Monday, March 28, 2011

Scotch Silly

Brewery: Brasserie De Silly
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.0%
Country: Belgium

This is my second scotch ale, the first being the great Skull Splitter. Hazy copper color. Thin head that dissipated quickly leaving a thin lacing. Sweet and malty aroma. Hints of apples and raisin are both present. First sip was similar to aroma with sweet fruits present. Whiskey and alcohol flavors are both substantial but a little more subdued than the Skull Splitter. Body was thick, creamy and plenty smooth. A nice roasted flavor rounded out the finish with a mild bitterness. This was a great beer but not quite as good as Skull Splitter. Less complex and a bit more subdued flavor. Certainly a good pick. B+

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CSB Extra Special Bitter Ale

Brewery: Laughing Dog Brewery
Style: ESB
ABV: 5.50%
Country: USA, Idaho

The CSB in this case stands for "Crotch Sniffing Bastard." Pour was bright caramel brown and a bit hazy. Big off-white foam that was creamy and lingered a long time. Caramel sweet aroma with hints of honey and herbal hop notes. The first sip took me way off guard. The main flavor was tart and sour apples. This tasted more like a cider than a beer. Finish was dry with a lingering bitterness. This one was too much for me. I couldn't get into the flavor and there wasn't anything beyond the tartness. This one ended up going down the sink. :( F

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lion Stout

Brewery: Ceylon Brewery PLC
Style: Stout
ABV: 8.8%
Country: Sri Lanka

It had been awhile since I've had a stout so I picked up this interesting looking one from Sri Lanka. Color was a black color with hints of brown around the edges. The tan head was huge, thick, and bubbly. Nose was dominated by strong roasted notes. A sticky sweetness is apparent as well along with a wave of alcohol. Taste was surprisingly sweet. Toasted caramel along with molasses and dark fruits. Finish brought with it the strong roasted flavors that were present in the aroma. Espresso and a hint of chocolate are both present in the finish as well. Not much bitterness is present, but it is still noticeable. Body wasn't the thickest I've had but still had some heft to it. Mouthfeel also had a slickness to it. The alcohol was totally masked in the flavor which was surprised me. For an b% ABV beer, this went down nice and easy. B+

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skull Splitter

Brewery: The Orkney Brewery
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Country: Scotland

From the bottle, "Skull Splitter takes its name from Thorfinn Hauskaluif - the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney." The description alone was enough to make my inner kilt tingle with excitement. With a namesake like that, this had better be a great beer. Pour showed the color to be a rich mahogany brown with a crystal clear body. Big off-white foam left plenty of lacing which lingered the entire way down the bottle. Aroma contained dark fruits, brown sugar, and cinnamon spices. A smooth and creamy body lead to a light sweetness from the malts along with noticeable solvent flavors from the alcohol that mingled with spicy notes. Taste was similar to that of a mild whiskey or scotch. Plenty of roasted flavors jump out during the finish along with a pleasing warming sensation and a slightly puckering bitterness. This would be a great sipping beer on a cold night. A-

Monday, March 21, 2011

Super Bock

Brewery: UNICER Uniao Cerverjeira S.A
Style: Lager
ABV: 5.2%
Country: Portugal

Pale yellow, bordering clear. Thin and white head dissipated quickly. Herbal and skunky aroma. Malts are carry a hint of sweetness and a bit of lemon, but that is about it. Crisp bite from the carbonation is the majority of the finish. No bitterness and vague herbal notes are also found in the finish. This doesn't pack enough to qualify as a bock and there is nothing super about this so the name is wrong on both counts. D+

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trappistes Rochefort 10

Brewery: Brasserie de Rochefort
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 11.30%
Counrty: Belgium

Finally got around to having the last of the Rochefort trappist ales. Number 10 is the big bad wolf of the trio clocking in at 11.30% ABV. I remembered the other Rocheforts were too carbonated for my liking so I made sure to do an aggressive pour in order to force a massive head and work some of the CO2 out of the beer. Most of the glass was head after the pour, but it dissipated rather quickly considering the amount. Color was dark, brown, and cloudy just like the others, couldn't see pieces of yeast floating in it like the others. The aroma was the most muted of the three. Some raisins were there along with grains. Alcohol was certainly present along with plenty of yeast. The first sip was revealed a thick and smooth body. Lots of bready malts with a hint of butter flavor. Plenty of subtle flavors were swimming around. Pepper and spice linger nicely. Malts are sweet, sticky, and creamy. Light bitterness and a lingering bread flavor round out the finish. For an 11% ABV beer, the alcohol is concealed nicely. It certainly imparts its strength through a nice warming This beer is a slow sipper and would pair nicely with a fine cigar and some strong cheeses. This one was by far my favorite of the Rocheforts, I'll be having this one again for sure. A

Friday, March 18, 2011

Orion Premium Draft Beer

Brewery: Orion Beer Company
Style: Rice Lager
ABV: 4.7%
Country: Japan

Went out for a sushi dinner, what better time for a Japanese beer? This came as a big 22oz bomber served in a chilled glass. Pale yellow color with a thick foamy head that was stark white. Mild aroma that was grains and rice. Taste was also mild, more grain and more rice. Nearly no bitterness to speak of. Finish was dry, sweet, and almost fruity and apple-like. Highly carbonated and crisp. A perfectly average beer, nothing to write home about and not worth seeking out, but quite drinkable. C

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homebrew Batch #2

Sunday was spent setting up a new batch of homebrew. Hopefully #2 will be done in time for more nice weather and the delayed inaugural deck party at the house. The recipe is for a Belgian Witbier and was my first attempt at an all grain batch. The main fermentable ingredients included 5 lbs 9 oz of 6-row barley, 2 lbs 60z of unmalted flaked wheat, and 7oz of honey. I cheated a little bit and added 1 lb of dried malt extract to the boil to compensate for a lack of mash efficiency since this was my first attempt and some of the mash conditions have to be spot on for a good yield of fermentable sugars. Also included in the recipe are orange peels, corriander, and cumin. I bittered with an oz of East Kent Golding hops. Two types of yeast were used, an American ale yeast and a Belgian ale yeast to add some fruity esters.

This time around wasn't nearly as dramatic as the first attempt. My gas did run out right as I was starting the main boil, so I'm glad I had a backup. Like I thought, my efficiency was a bit low. After the boil I had about 3 gallons of ~1.060 gravity wort. After adding water to bring the total wort up to 4 gallons, gravity was at 1.045 which was the target for a 5 gallon batch. I figured I'd rather have 4 gallons of more potent beer so I left the it at that. Monday morning the bucket was already fermenting like crazy so off to a good start. At the end of the week I'll rack this into a glass carboy for a secondary fermentation to improve clarity and to add some more spices. Should be ready to drink sometime mid April.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dogfish Head Aprihop

Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewing Company
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.0%
Country: USA, Delaware

Since the last Dogfish head turned out to be a massive disappointment, I had high hopes for this one to restore my opinion. This one poured a bright copper color with a big head and lingering lace. Aroma was similar to other Dogfish IPAs. Citrus was prevalent along with pine resins, apricot was present as well. The first sip was full of plenty of malt flavor. Apricot flavor was certainly noticeable and provided a nice sweetness that mixed with the hop flavors from the aroma. Finish was dry and crisp with the apricot living a linger taste. Bitterness wasn't as strong as I would have expected for an IPA, but it was certainly felt. The body was smooth and creamy making this an easy beer to sip down. It'll be easy to finish off the rest of the four-pack. B

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lukcy Basartd

Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Country: USA, California

Lukcy Basartd is Stone's ale to commemorate the brewer' s 13 years of existence. It is actually a blend of three of their beers, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Double Bastard Ale. If you noticed something funny about the name of the beer, it is not a typo. Not only is the title spelled funny, but the entire description on the back of the bottle is spelled in a similar fashion. Since the first and lest letter of each word is in the proper location, my brain was reading the words correctly in my head. It took me a paragraph or two of reading before I noticed something was funny when I ran across a word that didn't get "fixed" in my head. I actually thought that the bottle read "Lucky Bastard" until I tried to go to and it didn't work as expected. Had I read this label after drinking the beer, I would have been in serious trouble.

Pour showed a dark copper color with ruby highlights. It had a thick tan head that sat on top for a good period of time and left plenty of lacing. Sharp citrus and pine with hints of roasted malts and oak. Tasted similar to the aroma with hops dominating the flavor. Malts are plenty hefty and provided a rich sweetness that was balanced with plenty of bitterness. Hiding behind the hops and bitterness, oak flavors are noticeable. Alcohol was certainly present in both the aroma and the taste. An astringency and a sharp warmth were both present because of the alcohol. While it was a good beer, it didn't knock me off my feet. It tasted too much like the Double Bastard so giving this its own rating is tricky. The oak was an interesting addition. I've had other oaked beers and am turned off by them if the oak flavor is over done. The oak in this beer was a bit more subtle so it worked out pretty well. B+

Friday, March 11, 2011

BBC American Pale Ale

Brewery: Bluegrass Brewing Company
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.79%
Country: USA, Kentucky

Orange brown with plenty of off-white foam that left plenty of sticky lace that ran up and down the glass. Sweet, sticky hops dominated the aroma. Tons of citrus and plenty of pine. The first sip showed less hop flavors than what I expected, this probably had ample dry-hopping going on. Malts were pretty thin, not much sweetness or heft. Body was mostly watery as well. finish was dry and bitter. Bitterness lingered awhile but there wasn't much else to be found here. Aroma and bitterness was more potent than I would have expected and the taste wasn't anywhere to be found. I wont be having this again. D

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 9.6%
Country: USA, California

This is actually my first barleywine and I'm rather surprised it has taken me this long to pick one up to try. Typically, barleywines are among the most potent of the styles. ABVs start at 8% and only go up. These beers are usually dark, full of complex flavors, and bitter. Sierra Nevada is a brewer I've had enjoyed in the past, so I figured this would be a good barleywine to start with.

Pour showed a color that was rich and reddish brown. It had a small, off-white head that reduced quickly but left a thick layer of lacing that hung around until the very end. A flavorful aroma was dominated by pine and citrus. First thing I noticed when sipping was the thick body. It was nearly syrup like in its thickness but felt silky smooth and creamy. Hops certianly dominated the flavor with a sticky pine flavor along with grapefruit citrus. Behind the hops were some hints of the malts, a bit of sweetness and toasted flavors. A massive wave of bitterness popped and lingered for a long time after the sips were finished. Some alcohol was noticeable in the finish which lent a nice warming spiciness that hung around while holding hands with the bitterness.

Overall, this beer drank like a slightly less hoppy Imperial IPA with a beefed up body. In other words, this was tasty. This would also be a good beer to cellar for a year or two to see how the alcohol flavors change and mellow. I'll probably end up buying a few more to do just that. A-

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Point Amber Classic

Brewery: Stevens Point Brewery
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.7%
Country: USA, Wisconsin

This beer comes all the way from the land of cheese and recent super bowl champions, Wisconsin. Body was dark and rich red-tinted amber color with a big foamy head that linger a long while. Sweet caramel aroma with some floral aromas. Rich malty flavor that ranged from caramel to grains. Bit of acidity was present as well that mixed well with the bite from the carbonation. Finished rather quickly and left a sweet stickiness in my mouth. Overall this was a mediocre beer and rather forgettable. C-

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale

Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewing Company
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.0%
Country: USA, Delaware

Bright golden caramel color, clear and bubbly. Thin head dissipated quickly. Not much aroma, but what was there was malty and sweet. First sip revealed a rush of sweetness which was pretty good, unfortunately it was all downhill from there. A traffic jam of bad flavors followed the initial taste. The first bad taste was a buttery/soapy flavor. Second was a wheat flavor which typically isn't bad, but it was unexpected and caught me off guard. Finally, there was a burnt industrial solvent flavor that lingered a while with a slick and sticky sweet flavor that was awful. Not much bitterness and any hop flavors went unnoticed behind the unappealing flavors. I was really shocked that there was a Dogfish Head ale that I not only didn't care for, but actively disliked. My first thought was that I had gotten a bad bottle, but reading other reviews online gave me the impression that the flavors I didn't care for were not an abnormality. I don't usually pour out many beers and I never expected to pour out a Dogfish Head but that's what I did. :( F

Monday, March 7, 2011

La Rossa

Brewery: Birra Peroni Industriale
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 7.2%
Country: Italy

Pour was a dark, reddish amber color with a big and fluffy head that lingered a long time. Lots of grains were present in the aroma along with some dark cherry sweetness. Grain malts were the first tastes that were encountered. The sweetness from the aroma is hard to pick out in the taste which is a shame. The malts have a toasted quality to them which was nice. Slight herbal hop flavors are noticeable but don't do much for the overall Astringency from the alcohol was certainly present which took away from the overall experience. Body was right around medium but didn't have the heft that other doppelbock's have had. This was a dud. Flavors were weak for the style and ultimately forgettable. D+

Friday, March 4, 2011

Samuel Adams Noble Pils

Brewery: Samuel Adams
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.9%
Country: USA, Massachusetts

Another malty beer here. Sam Adams released this as an early spring seasonal. The name Noble Pils is a reference to the five noble hops that this beer contains. What is a noble hop you say? Noble hops are a series of aromatic hops from central Europe: Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Saaz, Spalt, and Tettnang. This pour was a pale yellow with a crystal clear body. It had a big fluffy head with thick lacing. Pleasing aroma that had some sweet lemon citrus, peppery spice, and earthy hops. Plenty of flavors hit all at once. The lemon, pepper zest from the aroma is certainly present. Herbal and grassy flavors are also noticeable up front. Taste is clean enough that the minerals in the water appeared in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it had more bitterness than I was expecting and was puckeringly dry. Its leaps and bounds better than most light beers claiming to be pilsners *cough*Miller*coughcough* though that isn't a high bar to judge by. A better way to put it is that this has to be the best pilsner I've had. It was greatly refreshing and I would certainly enjoy this again. Would be perfect on a hot day. A-

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fying Dog Garde Dog

Brewery: Flying Dog Brewing Company
Style: Biere de Garde
ABV: 5.5%
Country: USA, Maryland

A new style here, the Bier De Garde is a farmhouse style ale traditionally brewed in the Northern regions of France. Color was a pale golden yellow with a big fluffy white head and a nice lace. Malty sweet aroma with grassy and herbal hop flavors. Taste was peppery up front with some bananas present with some other fruity yeast flavors. Flavor transitions over to the earthy flavors that were present in the aroma. Finish turns into plenty of biscuit and cracker malts that becomes plenty dry. Bitterness is more assertive than the other malty beers that have appeared recently. The medium body lent itself well and gave this a great mouthfeel. I'd certainly have this again. B+

Fermented Pear Cinnamon Cider

To anyone following the blog, I'm hopefully "back" at it for awhile. I may still be off gluten, but I have some cider homebrewing tales to tell.

While on a particular homebrewing forum, someone mentioned that Trader Joes had just released a new cider in the juice isle, and that it sounded like it could be something worth fermenting. It was called "Pear Cinnamon Cider". Often, fermented pear cider is called "Perry", and is fairly sweet with a strong taste of pears.

With that in mind, I took a 1 gallon jug of the stuff, put it into a glass fermenter, tossed some yeast in and called it a day. 4 weeks later, I took a small water/honey solution and "Backsweetened" it. Backsweetening is necessary in fermented ciders because unlike with the malt in beer, almost all of the sugars in juice are fermentable, so the resulting solution is almost always super-dry. I bottled this backsweetened concoction. and 3 days later gave it a taste.

Firstly, it has decent carbonation and a very mild aroma. It has a great color that cleared up from fermentation. My first impression of the taste was "Whoa, that is fairly tasteless". My wife mentioned that it was "Sort of like a Miller Lite of cider". I consider that to NOT be a compliment. She was right. It was light and flavorless. My bet would be that I would have to backsweeten the next batch with ACTUAL pear juice to make it more of a traditional Perry.

I give my own Perry a C+. It was drinkable, but very bland.

Meh, that's what experiments are for! Next up, my adventures with my kegerator.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pete's Wicked Ale

Brewery: Pete's Brewing Company
Style: English Brown Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Country: USA, Texas

I picked this up at Total Wine for a couple of reasons. One, this was from Texas and there hasn't been a beer from Texas on this blog yet. Second, this is a brown ale which is a bit different than most of the beers that I've had recently, mainly IPAs, stouts, and other strong brews. This one poured caramel brown in color with plenty of ruby highlights. Off-white head was big but dissipated quickly into a thin lace. Aroma was mostly grassy with a hint of malt sweetness hiding behind it. Bready malts abound in the first sip. Plenty of earthy and grassy were present along with a peppery spiciness. A light bitterness lingers awhile with the herbal hops. This is a good English style ale where most of the main flavors are subtle and balanced. This is sort of the opposite of what I was expecting for a Texas ale. Overall though it was a pleasing beer. In the coming days I think I'll try to have some more extreme beers. B

Photo courtesy of Doug:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anchor Steam Beer

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
Style: Steam Beer
ABV: 4.9%
Country: USA, California

I didn't plan it this way, but this beer happens to be another beer that originated a style. In this case, Steam Beer. For those keeping score at home, the last three beers, including this one, originated a style. Steam beer is actually a trademark of Anchor Brewing Company so the style is also known as California Common. It is a unique American style that originated in San Francisco back in 1896. What makes this style unique is that it uses lager yeast that is made to ferment at warmer temperatures. Lager is usually fermented in cold temperatures, but since refrigeration was costly at the time, warmer temperatures were used.

Poured a dark caramel with a hint of ruby and incredibly clear. Good off-white head dissipated quickly. Aroma was mostly malty and sweet with a bit of grassyness. Plenty of sweetness throughout. Carbonation gave this a bit of a bite. Grains are definitely present at all stages and linger long after the finish. Only hop presence were some earthy flavors and a hint of some zestyness. Not too much bitterness was present, but it is noticeable in the finish. Like the ESB the other day, this was another really malty beer. Usually I'm a hop-head, but I have to say that these malty beers have been growing on me lately. B-