For most beer lovers, Samuel Adams is a household name. Their beers have been around for quite some time, and some might argue that they put craft beers on the map. One of the great things about them, since they are a larger craft brewer, is that they can put their money where their mouth is, and develop newer beer styles, and experiment with different flavors. Case in point would be their “Barrel Room Collection.” Lets take a look at one of the beers that came from experimentation in their barrel room. Enter the Thirteenth Hour:
This beer pours into your glass like a nice, normal stout. Oil black appearance, with a nice, very pronounced khaki colored head. The carbonation is very lively with this one, almost like a soda, which might give you the wrong impression of this beer. This beer smells very nice once the cork is popped, with flavors of darker sweet fruits taking the stage. Taste-wise, this beer hits you at once with a rush of those darker fruits, but then rides out with some familiar stout flavors, and even has a slight sour touch. The sourness mixed with the heavier than normal carbonation reminded me of a Kriek, but my experience of that style is very limited. The Belgian flavors do come out in this beer, and you can also slightly taste the oak of the aging process. Overall, this beer is very interesting, and very easy to drink. The flavors are a great compliment to each other, and I found myself wanting to drink more of it. Top that off with a catchy looking bottle and that would be a winner in my book.
Whether you like Samuel Adams or not is a moot point, this beer is interesting enough to give a try. I found myself enjoying it the more I drank it, and was quite sad once the huge bottle was empty. I plan on trying out the other three styles of the Barrel Room collection before they disappear. Well done Sam Adams!
Fall has really arrived here in Southwestern Ohio, and with that comes darker style beers. That said, starting earlier this month, Founders Brewing, out of the state up North, released bottles of their fabled Breakfast Stout. With the draft release being today, it is only fitting that I tackle this one on a Friday night. Breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Enter the Breakfast Stout:
To get this started, let’s have a story: I have wanted to try this beer for some time. My first experience with it happened at a friends wedding. After one or two too many rum and cokes, a friend handed me a bottle of this and proclaimed, “This is one of the greatest beers that I have ever had!” Instantly, I was intrigued. At this point in the evening, the wedding reception had moved into the hotel bar. In my rum clouded vision, I insisted that the bartender should open this beer for me, as I did not have an opener. He politely told me to take my drunk ass back to my room. I then, when he was not looking, proceeded to try to open this beer on the fancy marble counter top. After a few tries, much to my dismay the bottle was still intact, and now in the hands of my wife after she caught me in the act of trying to open the bottle. Fast forward to the next morning, and the bottle had disappeared, but my interest in this one was still hanging on. To this day, I am not really sure what happened to that bottle.
Enter today. After securing a 4 pack of this beer, it was finally go time. The beer pours nice and dark, like a good stout should. This one however, has a very pronounced head. Aroma wise, nice notes of coffee and roasted malts hit your nose. When the beer hits your taste buds, you will be hit with flavors of coffee, malts, bitter chocolate, some oatmeal flavor, and more coffee at the finish. Carbonation is spot on, this beer feels good in your mouth. It basically makes you want to have another. Careful with this beer though, as it clocks in at 8.3% ABV, which is heavy duty for a stout. It blows my mind that this beer is so high in ABV, as you cannot taste the alcohol at all. This one is very enjoyable, and it sets the new standard in my household for a stout!
When you think of stouts, if the first beer that pops into your head is a Guinness, you NEED to drink this beer. It will completely re-write your opinion of the darker craft. I will even go on to say that I enjoy it above and beyond my favorite stout, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. This beer delivers, so go give it a shot! It pains me that it has taken so long to finally drink one of these amazing beers, but boy am I glad that I did. Once again, Michigan delivers the good stuff. I really need to look more into property up there…
Well done Founders!
As I have stated before, dopplebocks are a favorite of mine, and usually I drink quite a few during this time of the year. Even though this is one of my favorite styles, a lot of times the different varieties start to blend together, and the fall months are a giant blend of bock beer, where one is indistinguishable from the next. Dark Horse Brewing Company must feel the same way, so they took a popular style, and added coffee. Coffee? Yes… Enter the Perkulator:
This dopplebock pours a good looking dark brown, with a medium sized off white head. Right from the pour, you can start to smell the coffee. Roasted coffee hits your nose, and it is a delight. Keep in mind, this is coming from a coffee lover. The coffee is there in the beginning of your first sip, with overpowering flavors that almost cover everything else in the beer. I say almost, because a little bit of maltiness hits mixed with a lager style yeast flavor, that you will usually find in a dopplebock. Overall, the coffee consumes the taste, which is good. This beer is supposed to taste like coffee. And that it does. This is the best coffee flavor that I have had in a beer. Ever.
If you are in the market for a different dopplebock, give this one a try. I would suggest however, if you don’t care much for coffee, I would leave it on the shelf. This beer is a keeper for me…
Well done Dark Horse!
Since it is fall, it’s time to break out the darker beers. Around this time of year, Oktoberfest style beers rule the roost, but another style lies just behind the popular ones: doppelbocks. This type of beer shows up and stays for a while at my household during the fall months. Let’s see how this goat fares, enter Wolfgang:
Once poured in your glass, this bock looks like it should, nice and dark brown. One interesting characteristic about this goat is that the head sticks around for a bit, with excellent lacing. Smell wise, dark fruits like raisins stick with you. Taste wise, this beer delivers. Smooth sweet caramel flavors blend with bread like malts in an excellent way. Like most Great Divide beers, this beer is amazingly smooth. I would even say almost creamy. This is a very tasty doppelbock that rivals some of my favorites of the style, mainly Ayinger’s Celebrator. The main difference between the two though, is this beer hits you with 8% ABV. Not too shabby in my book, especially when you remember that Celebrator is only around 6.7%.
If you are looking to dive into the style of the bock beer, definitely give this goat a go, it will be worth your while. Once again, Great Divide delivers. Well done!
Fall is in the air, well, at least in my home. So you know what that brings, right? Darker beers! After my recent dances with IPAs, I noticed the changing of the seasons in my local beer aisle. Smuttynose Brewing is one of my recent favorites of the past year for their “Big Beer” series of brews, which are always at a great price point. Factor the price with the quality craft beer, and that equals a winner in my book. That said, let’s walk this goat together. Enter the S’Muttonator Double Bock:
This beer pours out of the gate a very nice looking double bock, in a darker hue with a tan head. The head races out of the bottle like a pissed off goat chasing you out of his domain, then recedes ever so slowly as to let you know who is boss. Can you tell that I have been chased by a billy goat before? True story. Back to the beer: This is a classic for a double bock. Malts are your best friend with this one. Sweet malt flavors hit you in the front, with a hint of dark fruit making itself known. The beer finishes with a touch of alcohol flavor, since it does weigh in at 8.5% ABV. That is big for a double bock. Like the other Smuttynose beers that I have had, this beer is on my list to buy again.
Double bocks are a great way to usher in the colder temperatures. While there are quite a few on the market that are worthy of your time, I would say to give Smuttnose a shot at your bock beer time, you will appreciate every moment with this goat. Well done!
For some reason, Michigan has become one of the bigger craft beer markets. Quite a few breweries are gaining traction in the beer world, while being based out of the state up North. One brewery that I have not really heard too much about is out of Battle Creek, called Arcadia Ales. Since I have been on an IPA kick as of late, a farewell to summer if you will, I decided to take a walk with their version of a double IPA, called the Hopmouth.
This beer looks like an IPA, and smells like an IPA, so it should be an IPA right? Yes, yes and yes. The beer pours a perfect looking IPA, just a little darker red than normal. Some IPAs rush right to the top of the glass when poured, but this one came out of the bottle perfectly. For the record, I pour every beer the same, right down the middle of the glass, no tilting. Tilting is for cans or kegs. That is another rant altogether. Back to the beer. Once in the glass, the beer smells a bit of pine, and a little fruity, but not as powerful as you would expect. Taste wise, this beer is excellent. Hops meet your taste buds at the gate, then fade away to a few different malt flavors, one that jumps out at me is a bit caramel like. The hops do not make an encore, and the beer finishes nice and dry, with a touch of alcohol, which clocks in at 8% ABV for those who care.
This beer was a great pick, unfortunately for the Hopmouth though is that it had to follow Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum in my beer que. Overall, this is a solid beer, a little maltier than I expected, but a nice change for a double IPA. If you see it, you should try it out. Well done!
December 21st of this year is shaping up to be something special. The ancient Mayan civilization marked that date for the last day of their cyclical calendar. They believed that after the end of each cycle, a new era would begin. Or at least it seems. Some folks think that the sky will split on that day and life will cease to exist. Talk about the glass half empty. Anyway, In commemoration of this historic event, Rivertown Brewing company has released a very special, limited edition four part beer series giving a nod to the Christian version of the apocalypse by focusing on the four horsemen.
“And behold, I looked, and there was a rider on a red horse, and he poured out of his glass a smoked red ale.”
That’s in the bible, right? Enter Rivertown’s War:
This beer pours a very nice red color, and right off of the bat you can smell a fire. The smokiness overpowers any other scents that could possibly be in there, and for some reason, I like it. Makes me think of camping. Once you start to drink this limited edition brew, the smokiness comes back at you, but quickly fades into the rear. Rye starts to show itself, and blends with a bit of malt, then finishing nice and dry with a touch of hop bitterness. The malt is not as much as you might expect for a red ale, but this beer is still a very good drink. I found that the more I drank this one, the more I liked it. As odd as the smokiness is, this beer is a solid purchase in my book, but it could be hit or miss for some folks. If you like the smell of a campfire, give this horseman a try.
Rivertown is on to something with this series. Who would have thought that I would be impatiently waiting for the next horseman of the apocalypse to show up? I wonder what dandy of a beer he might bring?
Well done Rivertown, can’t wait for the next round!
One amazing quality about craft beers, is that more and more, they are showing up in the most random of places. When I think of craft beers, one of the I places that I do not think of is Youngstown Ohio. More historically known for its former steel industry, I only think of it as the family lands of my wife’s side of the family. Now however, Youngstown has an up and coming brewery by the aptly named Rust Belt Brewing Company. Enter their Coke Oven stout:
The term “coke oven” refers to Youngstown’s steel heritage, not the world famous soda. As a history buff, this little historical nod makes me happy. So let’s see how this stout fares…
The beer pours a nice oil black in the glass, with barely if any head. Scents of bitter malts, and a tiny bit of coffee flavors. Taste wise, roasted malts hit you first thing, with a tiny hint of chocolate bitterness. Not much really jumps out at me with this beer, very average at best for a stout. The big downer for me with this brew however, is that it tastes like a soda. The carbonation is a little high for my tastes in a stout. Maybe instead of naming this beer after the steel heritage of the city, they are actually referring to Coca Cola. Just a thought…
I love supporting smaller scale breweries, and from their beer list I will try their products again. However, when it comes to stouts, I will be passing on the Coke Oven. Be sure to check out their website here to see what else they have to offer.
I like Great Divide. To me, they are one of the better craft brewers in the industry these days, that you barely hear anything about. Well, maybe there is more play out West, but here in the Midwest, nothing much is mentioned about this company. That is a damn shame. Last week, I decided to pick up this special sixer to do a write up for IPA day, but missed the boat entirely. So, fashionably late, enter the Rumble:
Great Divide’s Rumble is an oak aged India pale ale, which is a little bit outside of the norm. And for an IPA, this beer is not what you would expect.
At first glance, this beer looks like a normal IPA. Nice coloration, and a nice sticky lacing that hangs out on your glass for a few minutes. The aromas are a nice mix of oak, vanilla, and a tiny bit of hops thrown in, just because it is an IPA. Once tasting though, this beer delivers. Up front there is a small bitterness, that gets taken over by caramel malt sweets. Vanilla decides to show up in the middle, then the beer finishes with a nice, small hop flavor that rounds out this delicious beer. Not your normal hop monster IPA, but more of an almost creamy flavor IPA. It feels weird to say, “creamy IPA,” but that is what comes to mind. My only drawback to this beer is the weird aftertaste that I get from drinking it. I would almost describe it as a resiny aftertaste, not immediate, but shows up a couple minutes after the swig is down. Just a minor drawback, and nothing to make me avoid buying this beer again. And buy it again I shall.
This has been a great beer to celebrate my late IPA day. I would definitely recommend it if you need a break from burning out your taste buds on some of the greater hop concoctions out there. A creamy IPA, who would have thought?
Well done once again Great Divide!
If you have ever read this blog before, you know that I do enjoy my barleywines. Something about the style makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. That something would probably be the higher alcohol content that comes with barleywines, but that is only an educated guess. That said, let’s take a walk down memory lane with this guy, straight from Brooklyn. Enter the Monster Ale:
Quite some time ago, around 2003 or so, I discovered Monster Ale for the first time. In my beer infancy, this beer was something of the holy grail for me, only due to the fact that it had the highest ABV that I had ever seen in a beer. Little did I know that I would discover a style that I would still enjoy to this very day.
The ale pours a nice ruby/amber in your goblet, with barely if any head leftover. But appearances are not why we drink, right? This barleywines scent is not too strong, with just a tiny bit of sweet fruit smells. But the taste, is something a little different. This beer hits you up front with a sweet taste, and smooth malt flavors with a slight alcohol burn at the end. But that is about it. Nothing too much standing out with this English barleywine. I should point out that this is from 2010, for those keeping score out there.
As barleywines go, Monster Ale holds a special place in my beer drinking heart, for being my first barleywine. But, this beer does not really deliver as much as I remember. For this style, there are far too many superior brews that deserve your money. One that comes to mind for an English barleywine would be Anchor’s Old Foghorn. Well out of the price range of Monster Ale, but if you are going to do an English barleywine, you might as well do it right.
Overall, it was nice to take a stroll down memory lane, but this beer fails to make any new memories with me.
Sonoma County in California is known for their wine. Wine country… Full of vineyards, Porsches, and tourists pretending to know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to wine. Little do these clueless tourists know that in this very same area there is a place that they will very likely overlook. And what a shame that is. Bear Republic lives in these hills, with that said, enter their Hop Rod Rye:
Since I have recently been digging on rye style beers, this beer popped up on my radar. Here in Ohio, it runs around $11 a four pack, which puts it in that “Questionable Purchase” category. Especially if you are not too into the rye flavor. But let me tell you, if you want to try a new beer/style today, this is where you should start.
The beer pours a nice amber, with an off white head. The smells that float off of the pour are not as strong as one might expect, at least for me, which my sense of smell could be considered faulty. That is the price you pay to be a zookeeper. Anyway, once the beer hits your mouth it is a completely different story. Right off the bat, bitter hops hit your mouth. Not in violent way, but they definitely make their presence known. Following that first impression comes the earthy rye flavor that compliments the hops perfectly. The beer finishes with another twist, this time in the flavor of sweeter malts, which again, compliment the flavors perfectly. One thing to point out, is let this beer warm up just a bit, say, a few minutes before drinking. Ice cold from the refrigerator brings out a slight metallic taste. Once finished with your first though, you will quickly reach for another.
This is a great beer for the rye lover, and the rye novice alike. Just be careful with this hot rod, because it weighs in at 8% ABV. This beer is definitely on my short list of rye favorites. Well done Bear Republic!
San Diego, also known as the whale’s vagina. Also home to around 50 or so craft breweries. During my recent two weeks out west, I tried to find some of the beers that I used to really enjoy and cannot find here in Ohio. I also tried to discover some new beers to lust after once my trip was over. That was accomplished thanks to some friends who live in the quiet little mountain town of Alpine, which is just around 30 miles east of the city. Little did I know that Alpine was the home to one of the finest little breweries that is known to man. You might think that is an exaggeration, but you would be wrong. Enter the Alpine Beer Company:
Located off of I-8, on the main strip of Alpine, you will find this little gem of San Diego county. The brewery is split into two sections, which oddly there is a book store in between the two sides. The book store did look interesting, but every time that I was by the brewery they were closed, which was a good thing since I like book stores. Anyway, the first area that my friend and I walked into was the brewery sales area, which had a variety of Alpine Beer company goods, and also sells their beer directly via growlers and 22oz bottles, no sixers here.
After spending some time chatting with their friendly staff, with me basically pestering them to ship beer to Ohio, (Which was responded with, “Yeaah, that’s not going to happen”) my friend and I walked to the other side of the beer company, their brewpub.
This is where the magic happens, when it comes to beer. Everything that I had from them was delightful. Sometimes I overuse that word, but drinking their beer was downright enjoyable. First up was a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout by the name of Odin’s Raven.
Odin’s Raven was an amazing beer. What I remember: The bourbon alcohol flavor hits you at the first sip, but then you are overtaken by malty chocolate tones, but not too sweet, and finishes off like a stout should. It also clocked in at around 11% ABV, which makes it a very heavy hitter. Definitely a must have from a company that is more known for their hop varieties.
Next on my plate was their Chez Monieux, which was a Belgian style Kriek. I have not had too many of this style to give a great run down, but it was a sour, tart cherry carbonated blast that had a dry wine like finish, which makes sense, since it was aged in wine barrels. Good, but not normally my thing. I was glad that I had it though.
I finished off my tasting with their Alpine Ale, and also some of their Nelson IPA, both of which were again, delightful. Add these beers to the two that I have reviewed earlier in the week, and that equals one of my new favorite breweries. Be sure to check out their website here to learn more about this fantastic company, do not miss them if you are in the San Diego region. Big thanks to my friend Jimmy for taking me to the place (And letting me stay at your house!), and my friend Thom for the recommendation!
Well done Alpine!
Since tonight is the last night of my California trip, I thought I would finish it off with another walk with the Alpine beer company. With this selection, I feel that I have had enough of their products to make the call; this is one of my favorite brewers. Every single product that I have had from them has been stellar. But alas, I am getting the cart before the horses. Let’s talk about their Duet IPA.
Once you spend a little time at the Alpine Beer Company, you will get the impression that hops are a big deal there. And you would be correct. Hops play a huge part of their line up, especially when you think of beers with the name, “Pure Hoppiness.” Their Duet is no exception.
Once the beer is opened, hops punch you in the face. The smell of this beer is amazing, which I would imagine even makes hop masters like Stone blush a bit. Very fragrant citrusy hops, almost floral like, with a good touch of pine. Transfer that to your taste buds, and the favors remain. Only the taste is so much smoother. For an IPA clocking in at 7%, this is one of the easiest drinking beers that I have ever had. A beer like this would definitely get me into trouble. One of the best beers that I have had in a while.
This beer finishes up my two weeks in California with a great finish. If you have the chance to make it out to the small mountain town of Alpine, do not miss this brewery. And they have a nice brewpub to boot. Well done Alpine, now ship your products to Ohio!
During my time out here in the West Coast, I have found myself scanning and scanning the beer isles looking for brews that I have not seen before. There are so many regional beers on this side of the states, that this process can take quite a bit of time. Luckily, I am staying at a friends house out in the amazing mountain town of Alpine, which just so happens to have a brewery. What a sweet coincidence. While I have not been to the brewery itself, (coming soon I promise) I did happen to find this guy hanging out at the local beer store. Enter Alpine Beer Company’s Captain Stout.
This beer pours out of the 22 oz. bomber bottle like a good stout should, nice and black. A decent (for a stout) head comes with that, which is more sticky than one might expect, and leaves a nice lacing pattern on your glass. Smell wise, this is a straight up stout, with a good malt aroma. Taste wise, this beer delivers. It has a nice, smooth, creamy flavor, with notes of chocolate mixed in as well. Definitely one of the better stouts that I have found in my travels. I will be taking a bottle or two back to Ohio with me when that time comes!
Since I am staying in Alpine for the next few days, it is only fitting that I make a trip to the brewery to see what else is on tap with this brand. If everything else is a fine as their stout, then they have a new believer. Be sure to check out their website here.
Well done Alpine!
Every now and again, a beer comes along that completely catches me off guard. Not that I expect it to be bad, but just a pleasant surprise. That is the case with this dandy, coming straight from a field of rye. Enter the Righteous Ale:
Rye style beers are still a bit new to me, but I am really liking them so far. The rye flavor is spicy, in a very peppery way and it blends with lots of different flavors nicely. This beer is no exception. The beer pours a beautiful dark amber, with a slightly tan head. Smell wise, you are inhaling a spice girl, with rye overpowering everything else. Taste wise, the rye follows that up with a big hit of rye spices, over a nice blend of sweeter malt, and a bit of hops. This beer is not as earthy as some other rye beers, but that makes it very easy to drink. If you are looking for a great introduction to rye flavor, you NEED to check this one out.
Add all of that together, and serve it up in a can? Yes please. This beer accompanied me on a recent bicycle outing, making it easy to pack in and pack out. I am starting to like this “good beer in a can” trend, and so does Sixpoint, as all of the beer that I have seen from them comes in a can.
Overall, this beer is a keeper. Definitely one of my newer, go to beers when out cruising the beer aisle. Well done Sixpoint!
Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, but lately I have been stuck on saisons. This style of beer is perfect for the warmer weather, and the crisp flavors quench your thirst very well. Thanks to my brother in law, this version comes all the way from Minnesota. Enter the Farm Girl:
This beer pours out of the bottle looking like a jar of honey, sort of a mellow, yellow gold. Not the most fragrant of beers that I have tried, but honestly, who really cares what a beer smells like? What this beer lacks in scent is paid in full when it comes to taste. Sasisons are usually light, but the Farm Girl hits you with around 6% ABV. Just a bit higher than you might expect for the style. Flavor-wise, I get a strong taste of lemon peel, mixed with a grassy wheat blast as well. Carbonation is low, so the beer flows smooth. Almost as smooth as life on a farm. Like most saisons though, it finishes dry and crisp, and very refreshing.
This Farm Girl is welcome in my household anytime, unfortunately, she is stuck in Minnesota. If you are in the area, you should look her up!
The summer season requires a nice, summer drink. Here in Ohio, it has been unusually warm, which in turn makes me unusually thirsty. Lighter style beers fill this warm weather niche, and luckily for us Great Divide offers up a true gem with this one. Enter Colette:
Colette is a Farmhouse ale, a saison with a Belgian style twist. Open the bottle, and you start to get an interesting, almost grassy yeast aroma. Once poured, this intensifies, and the beer settles into an interesting golden straw color, reminiscent of much lighter beers with much larger marketing budgets. This beer could not be more different than it’s mass produced distant cousins. Start to drink this dandy and you will completely forget about the rice water beers that you might have had once upon a time. Some sweet malt, somewhat of a lager style yeast, a fruity tartness, and an earthiness that I have not had in a beer before. Simply put, it’s amazing.
The flavors are complex, yet rustic. It is dry, yet satisfying. This is a beer that surprises you, with so much going on and such a simple, deceiving appearance. To call this beer a simple saison would be a tragedy. If you are unfamiliar with the style, just save yourself some time and start with Colette.
Once again, Great Divide delivers! Well Done!
Sticking with the summer type, lawnmowing session style beers, here is a dandy imported all the way from Wisconsin. I will admit, beer is not the first thing that I think of when I think of the state of cheese. After drinking this guy, that might have to change though. Enter the Spotted Cow:
Yes, this beer is light. Somewhere around 4.8% ABV. Sometimes though, that is what the world call for, especially during this heat wave here in the Cincinnati metro area. Called a Farmhouse Ale, this beer fits right in with the heat, and is very refreshing after a long day out and about. The beer pours like a light lager, only a hazy golden yellow, with a bright white head. The nose is something a little different than you would expect, with sweet light malts, something a bit grassy, and I almost think I can pick up a slight smell of sweet corn. Maybe not though, could just be the Farmhouse Ale handle making me think that. Taste wise, very easy and the word smooth does not begin to describe it. Somewhat sweet, somewhat dry, crisp, and a tiny bit of fruit is how I would describe it. Very pleasant to drink, with a cream ale type feel to it. If you spot this cow, you should pick it up!
Be sure to check out their site here.
Well done New Glarus!
Sierra Nevada holds a special place in my beer loving heart, as they were my introduction to craft beers. Their pale ale was my first venture into the world of beers with real flavor, not a watery rice imitation beer. That was some time ago, but the feelings stick with you. You always remember your first, with beer it is no exception. Anyway, lots has changed with one of the original craft brewers over the years; A new brewery being built in North Carolina, new beers, and a canning line. Let’s take a look at their extra IPA, the Torpedo:
I love the idea of craft beer in a can. Zero light pollution. No skunky beer here. Plus, it makes it much easier to take a beer with you on outdoor adventures into remote areas. Sure you can take a bottle with you, but with a can it is lighter and takes up less space when bringing the trash home. What, you actually think I leave my empties out in the woods? Shame on you. Anyway, enough about the cans, let’s get to the tasting.
The beer pours perfectly out of said can, a beautiful dark orange/amber IPA with a decent off white head. Once the can is opened, the scent of pine hops clogs your airways. Very strong hops, mixed with a sweet grapefruit smell. I wish I could make this blog scented, so as you read this post you could smell the beer. Once you start drinking it, those flavors are at the front, overpowering anything else that might be in there. Just a tiny bit, if any malt taste is there, but you are hard pressed to find it under all of those hops. For the finish, it ends bitter and dry, or I would even say crisp. This is what an IPA should be.
Some might not care for this amount of hops, but seriously, if you do not like hops why buy an extra IPA? This is one of my favorites for a few reasons:
1. I get a sense of nostalgia when I drink a Sierra Nevada product, refer back to the first paragraph. 2. This has that West Coast style hop flavor, that I really enjoy.
3. You can find this beer almost anywhere.
If you like the above reasons, and just love the flavor of hops, this is a must try if you have not already. Well done Sierra Nevada!
Barleywines are big beers, and in my household they are commonplace. There is nothing like settling down after a nice dinner with friends and enjoying one of these big beers over conversation. I feel that is what they are made for. Let’s take a look at Stone’s offering, and see how it stands up to some of the other brands. Enter the Old Guardian…
After warming the beer up for a bit, just during the course of dinner, it pours like a good barleywine should; a nice ruby coloration and sticky, foamy head that dissipates on it’s own time frame. The beer has a pleasant, faintly sweet aroma, which is also there in the taste. But that is not all. The beer has a great, familiar Stone hop flavor, mixed with some malt sweetness, and candy sugar flavors. Not over the top sweet like some barleywines, and also not over the top hoppy, this beer is a delight. The beer finishes up with a nice warm alcohol feel, that reminds you that this beer is big, 11% ABV big. Drink a few of these and you will feel like you have been banging your head against a tree, maybe like this guy:
Again, barleywines are one of my favorite styles, and this beer ranks up with the best. I would put it, flavor-wise, in between Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Great Divide’s Old Ruffian. Definitely in the top tier of barleywines. This is a great beer that should be enjoyed slowly, or that 11% ABV will remind you that you are not a woodpecker, with their special adaptations to keep them from getting headaches. Regardless, well done Stone, always a pleasure!
Beer mixed with lemonade? Heresy? Possibly. But with the warmer weather, that brings out the lighter flavor beers, or at least in my household. So let’s paint the picture: You are outside doing yardwork, it is a hot, humid day and it is finally time to sit back on the porch after taming the residential jungle known as your yard. Time for a refreshing drink, which might make you think along these lines:
Instead of either of those, this beer ends up in your hands. Yes, it is a beer. And yes, it is brewed with “natural lemon flavor.” I call that refreshing. Anyway, the beer pours a hazy yellow gold coloration like a bale of straw, and the smell that comes off of your glass is nothing but pure lemon flavoring. Once it is time to quench your thirst, the citrus lemon flavor takes over, with a familiar wheat beer taste. It is also a little watery, but that is what quenches your thirst so well. The beer finishes nice and dry, but almost too dry. Once you are finished, you will reach for another. This beer will not win any medals by any means, but it does it’s job on my porch after a long lawn session.
For some folks, this beer might be unremarkable. Hop heads take another path, this is not for you. But for some, this beer delivers. I would love to try it with “real” lemons added, instead of artificial flavorings. That just might put this beer over the top for some. I do like the fact though that it is a decent beer, at a decent price, that does it’s job. I will take this over a Bud Light any day.
Over the past few months, I have become closely acquainted with Smuttynose. It all started one evening at the local bar with their IPA being the “beer of the night” special. It was good, and it made my want to explore the brand a little further. Then I discovered their “Big Beer Series,” and it has been a pleasant ride to awesome ever since. So, with the nice weather lately, that just called for their Maibock…
Smuttynose’s Maibock pours like a lager, only with a darker orange hue. It almost looks like a golden pale ale in appearance. Once in your glass, the beer’s sweet aromas hit your nose. A very different smell, but very pleasant. Taste wise, this beer delivers. This is a sweet, malty drink that also balances a tiny bit of hops, and finishes nice and dry. There is a tiny bit of alcohol in this as well, weighing in at 8.7% ABV.
Even though Maibocks are relatively new to me, this is by far one of my favorites, and dare I say now a new member of my top 5. If this beer was sold in a six pack, I would be in trouble. It is that good. Once again, well done Smuttynose! Check them out here.
Straight from Green Bay Wisconsin comes Hinterland, with their distinctive pint sized four packs of libations. From the first time this beer made an appearance at my local store, I was intrigued. I do enjoy pale ales, and as with many craft beer fans it was my first jump into the craft market. A pale ale was my gateway beer, a Sierra Nevada. You always remember your first I suppose. Anyway, enter Hinterland’s version:
The ale pours a beautiful shade of orange, with a nice citrus hop aroma. This beer looks very nice in the glass, better than in the photo above. Once you start to drink it, it is good. But something is missing. It has a very watery feel to it, with a subdued hop flavor. No real hop bite. Granted, this beer is not advertised as a hop monster, but I expected more hops overall with this one. It is a decent beer that is easy to drink, but I feel my money can be better spent elsewhere. If only it tasted as well as it looks…
If you are in the mood for a mellow, decent, but not stellar pale ale, then this beer is for you. There are more beers of this style on the market though that make it hard for me to buy this one again. According to their website they have quite a variety of styles on the market, I might have to go another route with Hinterland…
On a side note, anyone remember their “Gateway” craft beer?