Monday, February 28, 2011

Fuller's ESB

Brewery: Fuller Smith & Turner
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.9%
Country: England

Like the Pilsner Urquell, Fuller's ESB is another beer that started a style. In this case it started the Extra Special/Strong Bitter which is a more potent version of the Bitter style. Seeing as this is an English style, "extra strong" doesn't make this a bitter beer. IBUs are typically in the 30s and are balanced with plenty of sweet malts.

Poured a bright caramel color that was crystal clear. Had a thin, wispy head that vanished rather quickly. Aroma had plenty of caramel sweetness to it with just a bit of herbal grassiness to it. An especially malty beer. For something with the name "bitter" in it, this is a rather sweet beer. Some herbalness was present throughout that lead to a crisp finish with some biscuit malts and, wait for it, a light bitterness that lingers a while. While it was a good beer, nothing really jumped out and grabbed me. It would be a good beer to have several of in a social gathering. One that doesn't need any focus but isn't off putting. Great for malty beer lovers out there. B

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pilsner Urquell

Brewery: Pilsner Urquell
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.4%
Country: Czech Republic

Pilsner Urquell comes from the Plzen region of the Czech Republic. Astute readers with futures as police detectives will notice that Pilsner is awfully similar to Plzen. The reason for this would be the fact that the Plzen region gave birth to the Pilsner style of beer. One of the main reasons for this was that the soft water present in the region gave the beer a unique character at the time. The style goes back to 1842 and Pilsner Urquell claims to be the standard bearer of the original. As most lagers produced and consumed are of the light pilsner style, this is a bit of a big deal in the beer family tree.

Pored a bright straw yellow and perfectly clear. Standard sized head was bright white and settled out rather quickly. Aroma was plenty grassy and earthy. The aroma is often described as "skunky" though for this beer, it is a desired characteristic. A "skunked" beer is on that has been damaged from UV rays. In this case, the "skunky" flavor comes from the yeast and hops. First flavors of the sip match the aroma perfectly with both grassy and earthy. The mouth feel was fantastic with a nice heft to it that was crisp and bubbly. Finish had a light bitterness along with some biscuity malts. Overall I really enjoyed this one. Clean and simple, this is easy to drink but still has enough malt and hop presence to not be dull. B

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Southern Tier Choklat Imperial Stout

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.0%
Country: USA, New York

This was another find from the State Line Liquor Store, the first beer on this blog from Southern Tier, and the second imperial stout that I've personally reviewed. This came in a big 22oz bomber that will leave me weak in the knees by the end of the night. Poured nearly pitch black with only a small hint of caramel near the edges. Nice thin and tan head that settled into a nice and lingering lace. Aroma is full of plenty of types of different types of chocolate. Cocoa powder is the most prevalent along with some dark chocolate. Absolutely fantastic aroma, one of the best. The first sip was nice and smooth with plenty of chocolate. Chocolate flavor was not as pronounced as the aroma but still quite noticeable and plenty rich. Plenty of sweetness along with dark and roasted malts are quite potent. Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit syrupy. Finish was more roasted malts and a nice a lingering bitterness that wasn't overpowering. The most surprising aspect of this brew is that the 11% ABV is completely hidden. There are no astringent flavors at any point. Wonderfully chocolaty and absolutely delicious, I'd have this again in a heartbeat. A

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trappistes Rochefort 8

Brewery: Brasserie de Rochefort
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 9.20%
Country: Belgium

Here is the second of the three Rochefort beers, Rochefort 8. The first one, Rochefort 6, was only okay by my standards. A bit too sweet and a bit too carbonated. This version comes out a bit stronger and should pack more of a punch.

The pour was similar, a murky brown with a darker head than 6. Big head that dissipated and left a nice lace. Plenty of yeast seen swimming around. Plenty of dark fruits. Cherries and plums both present. I smelled more yeast than 6 and the alcohol was certainly noticeable. The first sip had some sweetness and lots of bready malts. Quite similar to number 6 in flavor as well. The largest noticeable difference is that alcohol flavor is much more prevalent. This gave the beer a nice spiciness that helped to improve the taste. The high level of carbonation made it hard to enjoy this. B-

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dogfish Head Namaste

Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewing Co
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.0%
Country: USA, Delaware

Its not quite summer yet but today felt nice enough that it may have well been. That being said, I felt a nice summer beer was in order, hence the Witbier. Pour was bright and sunny yellow color with a nice head that dissipated quickly but left a nice and lingering lace. Body was slightly cloudy with some yeast and sediment visible. Aroma was faint and floral with definite signs of wheat. Flavor was incredibly crisp and refreshing. Lemongrass and coriander were both present in good quantities along with a hint of orange. The spice flavors lingered while the finish had the distinct wheat taste although it was more subdued than other wheat beers that I've had. As stated before, this was incredibly crisp and refreshing; Perfect for a hot summer day. B+

Friday, February 18, 2011

Curator Dunkler Doppelbock

Brewery: Ettaler Klosterbrauerei
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 9.0%
Country: Germany

Another fine looking German beer here. The bottle claims that the recipe dates back to 1609 and the monastery where it was brewed dates back to 1330, so a bit of history here. Poured a dark-brown color with a thin and tan head. Cola like in appearance. Aroma was dark and sweet with molasses, raisins, and cherries along with a spicy kick. Taste is quite complex. Raisins and cherries are both present upfront along with a molasses sweetness and a hint of caramel. Floral and earthy hop flavors are present as well throughout. The finish is dry with a hint of bitterness that lingers slightly. The mouth-feel is syrupy and has plenty of carbonation to give it a kick. Leaves behind some oily residues. A hint of alcohol reminds you that this is 9% ABV but the astringency is covered up for the most part. This went down remarkably easy and would be dangerous in large quantities, great to drink though and I thoroughly enjoyed this. A

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.0%
Country: USA, Pennsylvania

This was another beer that I found while at State Line Liquors. The "SIMCOE" in big bold letters on the bottle caught my eye immediately. The Simcoe hop is the main aroma hop of the wonderful Hopslam ale. Since my first attempt at finding a beer to tide me over until next year was a total failure, I was eager to have another go.

Poured a reddish coppery color with a nice and fluffy off-white head. Somewhat hazy with visible yeast. Big hoppy aroma is full of pine resin and citrus, this was what I remembered and loved from Hopslam. The first sip carried with it plenty of the hoppy flavors from the aroma. Sticky pine was the most prevalent with the citrus flavors playing second fiddle. Plenty of sweet, caramel malts managed to hold their own though and lent the body a thick and creamy mouthfeel that was quite pleasant. Speaking of the body, it coated the mouth well and left a lingering residue that was quite tasty. The finish crept up slowly with a pleasing bitterness that stuck around with the stickiness. This was quite a delicious and well balanced brew that I'll have to remember the next time I'm in the mood for some Hopslam and it isn't January. A

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lancaster Milk Stout

Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5.30%
Country: USA, Pennsylvania

Poured a pitch black with no trace of other color and a tan foam that was thick and bubbly, but dissipated rather quickly leaving a ring of foam. Big aroma, lots of roasted flavors dominate. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate are the two dominating flavors. There was a hint of sweetness present in the nose as well. The taste was quite different from the aroma which is unusual and caught me a bit off guard. The main flavor was milky and creamy with plenty of sweetness. This is because milk stouts are brewed with lactose which isn't ferment-able so it imparts its milky flavors to the beer. Most of the roasted flavors weren't as noticable which was a shame since they were so good. There wasn't much bitterness in this and the finish was dry and sweet. The body was much thinner than what I'm used to when it comes to stouts. While this was a good beer, I would have enjoyed more of the flavors in the nose to be present in the taste as well. B

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rogue Russian Imperial Stout Vintage 2009

Brewery: Rogue Brewing Company
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Country: USA, Oregon

I found this on my way back from Vermont at a store in Maryland called State Line Liquors which, as its name suggests, is located near the PA and DE border. This store had the best beer selection I've ever seen with an entire section dedicated solely to Belgium beers. I couldn't spend as much time here as I would have liked since we were near the end of a long drive and four buses of tourists were showing up to overwhelm the place.

According to the bottle, this beer is best after aging for at least a year. Luckily for me this was a vintage 2009 bottle, so no waiting for me to enjoy this. The aging allows for some of the harsher alcohol flavors to mellow out and make the drink more smooth overall.

Poured out thick and pitch black with no trace of any other color. Dark brown head lingers a long time. Strong roasted aroma with traces of coffee, chocolate, earthy flavors and a bit of alcohol. First sip showed an incredibly thick body that was almost syrupy. Massive amounts of roasted flavors all over the place. Both a roasted barley and a roasted coffee flavor dominate. Feels like sipping on an espresso in some ways. The hops imparted some herbal and earthy flavors that complemented the roasted flavors well. The malts had a small hint of sweetness near the end that transitioned into a bitter finish that was well complemented by lingering roasted flavors. Not a trace of alcohol was present at all in the taste. There was nearly no carbonation and the body was incredibly smooth. This was supremely drinkable and delicious. My only complaint with this was that it came in a 7oz bottle and I would have loved to have savored this much longer. A+

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homebrew Tasting Day

So there haven't been any posts the last couple of days because I've been skiing in Vermont and the last of my scheduled posts ran out. Bo is in cider land and Roy is a bum, so posts have been lacking. I had a couple of good beers in Vermont including a local ale and a black IPA. I didn't take any notes to do posts on them because I was tired from skiing all day and just wanted to relax with some beer and not be that guy at the bar writing notes down with each sip.

I got home after a long day of driving and what do you know? I was in the mood to relax with a nice beer. I had bottled my home brew over two weeks ago meaning that the sugar added at bottling had been fermented to provide carbonation and a bit more alcohol. I figured now would be a good time as any to try my very first batch so here we go.

Poured a hazy coppery brown that had a massive sticky head. Head was off-white and stuck around a long time. This is an unfiltered beer since I lack the equipment to do the sort of filtering that professionals do. If I do brew this again, I can use a glass carboy for a secondary fermentation to improve the clarity. The aroma had the distinct grapefruit aroma from the cascade hops. Some of the yeast was present in the aroma as well. The first sip carried with it the familiar hop flavor though it was a little more subdued than I thought it would be. Some sweet malts were present as well. Some roasted malts started into the transition the finish. Finish carries with it plenty of bitterness and was plenty dry. Overall it was quite good especially for a first attempt. I think if I were to try this recipe again, I'd increase some the malt base to increase the flavor. I'd probably do a dry hop phase as well to increase the overall hop flavor and aroma. Luckily I liked drinking this one since I have over a case of it in my basement. B-

Friday, February 11, 2011

Loose Cannon Hop^3 IPA

Brewery: Clipper City Brewing Company
Style: American IPA
AB: 7.5%
Country: USA, Maryland

Bright copper orange color. Cristal clear with a nice fluffy white head. Lots of lacing is left along the glass the entire way down. Big citrusy aroma that is spicy and creamy at the same time. Taste is similar to the aroma, lots of citrus hops and resin flavors. Hefty amount of bready malts round up the finish along with a pleasing bitterness. Creamy mouth feel and a spicy level of carbonation are both good features. The only real knock against this is there is a noticeable astringency from the alcohol that is present in both the aroma and the taste. Otherwise, this is a well done beer. B+

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale

Brewery: Bell's Brewing Company
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Country: USA, Michigan

Bell's has had several beers appear on this blog so far. The best by a mile, of course, was the incredible Hopslam. I found this at the Reston Wine Cellar. It was the last one left and seeing as it is an anniversary beer and wont be brewed again, I counted it as quite the find. Poured a reddish, caramel, brown color with a thin head that dissipated quickly. Mild sweet aroma with some apple notes. Plenty of sweet malts dominated the taste. Apples were prevalent as well as apricots and caramel. Some darker flavors were present as well with some raisins and some yeast notes. Finish was dry and bitter with some bready malts that show up near the end. The body was creamy with almost no carbonation. Overall this was a yummy beer. It was little bit too sweet for my preference but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a good way to celebrate a fine brewery. B+

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Brewery: Troegs Brewing Company
Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 7.5%
Country: USA, Pennsylvania

Another big seasonal release that gets purchased rapidly as soon as it is released. Came in a giant 22oz bomber and given the alcohol content, makes this equal to nearly four regular beers. Poured a bright amber color with hints of red. Big and fluffy head left plenty of lace and lots of ringing going down the sides. Aroma had plenty of pine up front with some citrus and hints of sweetness. Sweet flavor up front with a huge taste of hops. Both pine and citrus flavors present. Flavor turned to bready malts and a bracingly dry and bitter finish. Nice medium body with plenty of spicy carbonation. Bitterness lingers a long time after drinking. This beer is in the same class as Hopslam but a bit scaled down. Essentially a Hopslam lite. Incredibly delicious and quite drinkable. This made its presence felt and was fabulous. I'll be picking this up again when it comes out again next year. A

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Purple Haze

Brewery: Abita Brewing Company
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 4.20%
Country: USA, Louisiana

Pours a cloudy and hazy orange with a small white head that dissipated quickly. Aroma is dominantly tart raspberry with a hint of wheat flavor to it. Given the amount of raspberry that can be smelled, I was surprised at the little amount of fruity flavor. The raspberry was present for sure, but just in mild amounts. Taste was quite dry with a slick and buttery mouth feel. Finished dry and left a big wheaty taste in my mouth. No bitterness whatsoever at any point. This beer isn't bad by any stretch but at the same time, there isn't anything terribly interesting either. The raspberry is nice but it isn't enough to carry the beer on its own. C

Monday, February 7, 2011

Long Hammer IPA

Brewery: Red Hook Brewing Company
Style: IPA (supposedly)
ABV: 6.50%
Country: USA, New Hampshire

Bright and pale golden and clear color with a thick and bubbly white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Some citrus and pine hop aroma. Some of the citrus flavors up front but the flavor dissipated rather quickly. Transitions to some bready malts and some spicy bitterness to round things out. This is really weak to be called an IPA. The biggest redeeming quality of this brew is that it has a good level of alcohol that is concealed. Other than that, this is a weak excuse for an IPA. This beer is forgettable and nothing special. D

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kona Pipeline Porter

Brewery: Kona Brewing Company
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.40%
Country: USA, Hawaii

Deep and dark brown, nearly black but not quite. Nice sized head that lingers a long time and leaves plenty of lace. Rich coffee aroma with a hint of sweetness behind it. Great smelling brew. Dark coffee flavor, almost espresso like. Has a little bit of grassiness to it. Flavor ends with a deep roasted flavor and a mild bitterness. Nice medium body with a little acidic feel to it. There was an odd flavor/feel to it that I couldn't quite figure out. Still good though. B-

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bass Pale Ale

Brewery: Bass Brewers Limited
Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 5.00%
Country: England

Another English beer for the list and one that is quite recognizable to most people. According to the bottle, Bass was awarded the first trademark in England to prevent imitators from using the red triangle. Bright, amber caramel color with a good sized off-white head that lingered. Herbal and grassy aroma with a bit of hopiness to it. Plenty of the grassy flavor upfront with a bit of peppery. Finishes with a light bitterness and plenty of toasted bread malts. Very dry and crisp finish. This highlights the difference between English pale ales and American pale ales. English versions are typically more subtle and understated while American versions are more bitter and hopier. At first I wasn't a fan of this, but I have to say it grew on me more and more as I sipped on it. The finish is what grew on me, quite pleasing. B-

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Castle Brown Ale

Brewery: Scottish & Newcastle UK Ltd.
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 4.70%
Country: Scotland

Pours a bright brown color with a big and foamy off white head. Earthy and herbal aroma with a hint of alcohol. Grassy flavor up front with some sweet caramel malts. Almost no bitterness whatsoever. Tastes similar to a heavier Yuengling. Nice body with good carbonation. C+

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.20%
Country: USA, California

Happened to be at my local grocery store and was in need of beer. There was a mix and match six-pack section so I bit. Not a wide variety of craft beer, but enough non Bud/Coors/Miller beers to make it worth while. Sierra Nevada is one of the original American craft brewers that started in the late 70s and early 80s. Their Pale Ale is their flagship brew that will have to make an appearance on these pages soon.

Poured a bright orange that was nice and clear leaving a thin white head. The aroma was of citrus and pine. Not a super powerful aroma like most IPAs, but still noticeable. Perhaps a lack of dry-hopping. Dry and bitter up front with plenty of malt backbone. Less overtly hoppy than most IPAs but still contains a good wave of bitterness. Ends dry, bitter, and a good bit of bready malts. Not a typical IPA for sure, but still tasty. Very refreshing and quite drinkable. No trace of alcohol, I'd be easy to have too many of these too quickly. A-

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flying Fish Belgian Style Dubbel

Brewery: Flying Fish Brewing Company
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.30%
Country: USA, New Jersey

Pours a golden brown with some hints of ruby. A small head dissipated quickly. Smells like creamy bananas and vanilla with a hint of alcohol astringency. Plenty of sweet malts up front with some fruity apricot notes. Taste gives way to some roasted bready characters with a hint of spiciness. No bitterness whatsoever. Mouth-feel was smooth and creamy but not to thick. I thought the aroma was pleasing, but overall was rather lacking. There was a bit much too much astringency present throughout. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. C+

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rogue McRogue Scotch Ale

Brewery: Rogue
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 7%

To look at this bottle is worth a laugh as it only holds 7oz. While this does say best when aged a year, I couldn't help but to open it up.

Pour is thick and cloudy with a carmel brown color. Little to no head, and a very very thin lace.

Aroma is roasted/smokey malt, toffee, caramel and a hint of chocolate.

Taste follows the aroma, hints of toffee and chocolate at first. A sweet smokiness in the middle. Finish contains dark fruits, plum and some raisin.

I'm giving this a B+ very drinkable even at a decent ABV. Wish the bottles were bigger though.


Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Brewer: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 18%
Country: USA, Delaware

"A very dark beer brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley" proclaims this bottle. At 18% ABV, this is by far the most potent beer I've ever had. At 10$ for a 12 oz bottle, I wont be having this too often either.

Poured a dark black with some hints of caramel around the edges. No foam whatsoever with only a few bubbles around the edge of the glass. Smell had some chocolate to it along with some sweetness and plenty of alcohol.

The first sip was a kick in the mouth. Some chocolate and coffee present but those are quickly overpowered by a wave of alcohol. The first few sips were similar, but as I went on, the alcohol flavors subsided and more of the drinks character came out. This drank more like a port or a brandy than a beer; Small sips over a long period of time. There is a syrupy slickness to the mouth-feel. Great warming feeling going down. More roasted flavors as it reached room temperature. Typical stouts are servers at around 50 - 55 degrees. This one was better as it became warmer than that. This sort of beer is the kind that can be cellared for a number of years to improve the flavor. As it ages, some of the harsh notes from the alcohol mellow out and the drink becomes more smooth. Overall, as is, I thought it was a great sipper. Quite relaxing and perfect for a cold and dreary day. Still, at 18% ABV, one of these is about the same as 4-5 American light beers and enough to leave me feeling half in the bag. A