Friday, November 26, 2010

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Twisted Kilt Scottish Style Export Ale

This beer pours a medium brown in color and is translucent. It has a massive head.  The aroma is malty, roasted malt, nut, a bit of light coffee.  The taste is massively sour.  The wonderful potential of flavors in the aroma ends up only being found in the aftertaste.  5.3% ABV.  The bottle had the yeast at the bottom and that must be what is providing the sourness.  I don't know if this is an off bottle or not.  I have to pour this down the drain, it is undrinkable.

Luckily I had two bottles of this brew.  The first bottle was an off bottle, it must have secondarily fermented itself into a sour monster.  The second bottle pours the same color but with much less carbonation and no head.  The aromas are the same, a little darker, a little more coffee.  This time the taste follows the aromas perfectly and it is deep and dark with no sourness, actually a bit of sweetness.  This is a good beer and is in fact reminiscent of some Scottish ales I have had.

The Thirsty Dog Brewing Company is in Akron, Ohio.

Great Lakes Brewing Co. - Oktoberfest, Eliot Ness Amber Lager; Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

The Great Lakes Brewing Company is from Cleveland, Ohio and has a very solid lineup of beers.

Oktoberfest - This amber lager is the Oktoberfest offering from the Great Lakes Brewing Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. 6.5% ABV.  This beer pours a deep shimmering copper to amber in color with a quarter inch of thick foam.  It looks enticing.  The aroma is subtle, grain, lager, and a bit of caramel sweetness.  The taste is big, malt, caramel, very sweet with an overtone of hop bitterness floating over the top of it all.  My guess would be this beer has a lot of fans, its taste is bold.  It is a little too sweet for my taste however. 

Eliot Ness Amber Lager - This 6.2% ABV beer pours dark amber-copper with a reddish tint with a quarter-inch of very light brown head.  The aroma is crisp, clean, fruit and light caramel.  The taste is malt forward, caramel and bread in a pastry like way, with enough fruit and bitterness from the hops to prevent being too sweet.  This is a full-flavored amber lager.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter - This 5.8% ABV beer pours a dark opaque black with a half inch of creamy light brown head that leaves light to medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is dark roasted malt, with a lot of coffee notes.  The taste is deep, rich, dark roasted malt with dark chocolate and coffee.  The finish is a bit tangy, bitter and dry.

Northwoods Brewing Corp. - Floppin' Crappie Ale; Whitetail Wheat

Northwoods Brewing is out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Floppin' Crappie Ale - This beer pours a light brown in color.  The smell is sweet, burnt caramel, and dried fruit.  The taste is light, but of a biscuit with honey and dark fruit jelly.  A bit of bitterness on the end.  This is drinkable, and exhibits potential, but it just seems to lack the weight and complexity it would need to finish out strong. 

Whitetail Wheat - This beer pours a pale straw with an orange tint.  There is massive carbonation but a fairly slight head.  The aroma is light wheat and some yeasty banana esters.  The taste follows the aroma.  Not too impressive.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA

Oskar Blues brews and cans (they are can only) in Longmont, Colorado.  This beer is a whopping 10% ABV.  The can states, "Does Your CANscience Bother You?  Tell the Truth!  DISESTABLISHMENTARIAN"

This beer pours a dark honey to light copper in color, slightly cloudy, with a short head that is nevertheless thick and foamy, although it does then rapidly dissipate.  The aroma is of massive hops, more tropical fruit than citrus, although both are present and a touch of pine.  The taste follows the aroma, definite tropical fruit, some pineapple, some melon, some citrus, a bit of pine, very hop forward, but sitting atop a very sturdy foundation of unobtrusive malt.  For 10% there is not overt alcohol in the flavor, but it can be detected in the nose as the beer is in the mouth.  This actually drinks refreshingly light and flavorful for its high alcohol.  This is a superb Imperial IPA.

Piels Draft Style Premium Beer

This beer pours a pale and light golden in color with a half-inch head that dissipates rather quickly.  The aroma is stronger than your average cheap American adjunct lager, with more grain, lager and hop bitterness than generally found in this style.  I do detect a slight metallic or soapy character in the aroma which is the one negative so far.  The flavor follows the aroma but without the negative.  This has a decent amount of grain, a light touch of lager "funk" and some nice hop bitterness without any of the sour, metallic, apple notes that are the downfall of too many beers of this type.  It has a nice mouth feel, managing to be fizzy on the tongue and smooth at the same time.  This is near the top for its category.

The Piels Brothers Brewery started in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York.  Their slogans: "The Beer Drinker's Beer" and "The Kind of Beer You First Loved".  That second one kills me.  In the 1950's and 1960's the spokesmen for the brand were the animated Bert and Harry characters who were so popular they had a fan club with over 100,000 members.  The brand is now owned by Pabst.

Schaefer Beer

This beer pours a light golden color with a rapidly disappearing head.  The aroma has a bit of grain, light lager funk and a touch of bitter hops.  The taste follows the aroma.  It has more grain, lager funk and touch of hops than your average macro American adjunct lager.  It drinks very crisp yet smooth in its mouth feel due to its heavy, yet fine, carbonation.  This is quite good for its category.

"Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having  more than one."  This was the old Schaefer jingle line that originated in 1961.  The beer was brewed by F. & M. Schaefer Company from 1842 on.  This is yet another label now owned by Pabst, who bought it from Stroh's who bought the original company in 1981.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

National Bohemian

National Bohemian – Pale light golden in color with a small head that quickly dissipates. The aroma is of very slight grain, a bit metallic, a tad of lager and some hop bitterness. It is very finely carbonated, giving a tickle on the tongue. The mouth-feel is creamy and light, without being watery. The taste has the same notes as the aroma (grain, slight apple/metal tartness, bit of lager and very slight hop bitterness), but I would say that the taste is better than the aroma. This is good, solid cheap beer. Is it the best cheap beer? Not at all. There are some with better aroma and flavor, but there are also many that are worse. In addition, I did really like the mouth-feel of this beer (at least for a cheap American adjunct lager).

This beer, also referred to as “Natty Boh” was originally by National Brewing of Baltimore, Maryland and the brand is now owned by Pabst Brewing. Its current distribution is very limited and centered around Maryland. According to the can Baltimore must be the land of pleasant living as this beer is “From the Land of Pleasant Living”. National brewed from 1885 until 1978 and was the original brewer of Colt 45 malt liquor, which referred to a player on the Baltimore Colts football team. The strange mustachioed “mascot” on the can is Mr. Boh, introduced when production resumed after Prohibition. They were the first brewer to sell six-packs of cans.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carling Black Label Beer

2010:  This beer pours a very light and pale gold in color with a quarter-inch head that rapidly disappears but does surprisingly leave a bit of light lacing down the glass.  The aroma is of light, fresh grain, a bit metallic, a touch of lager "funk", a touch of sweet and tart apple and just a hint of hops.  The taste is of light grain and lager, and a barely detectable hop bitterness.  The mouthfeel is highly and finely carbonated, but a bit watery just the same.  Very light.  It does have a pleasing aftertaste.  I don't understand when people drink macros that they seek out "light" beer when the regular ones are often so light themselves. 

I still like this in 2017:  The beer pours a light clear champagne golden in color. There is about an inch of white, foamy head. The aroma is golden grain, with a metallic/mineral tang (not unpleasant), damp straw and light lager funk moving towards wet cardboard, and just a touch of grassiness. The taste is mild grain, light straw, a touch of grass. There is little to no bitterness. The beer drinks with a burning carbonation, but refreshing. This is a solid macro adjunct lager, pretty good as the style goes. 

The can is funny as it predominantly features "Carling Canada" and a big red maple leaf, but then down below you will see "Product of U.S.A."  Black Label was originally from Canada, with the Carling company beginning brewing in 1840 and not moving into the United States until after Prohibition.  The company had some nationwide success but fell into decline, along with many smaller brewers, in the 1970's.  It was then acquired by G. Heileman, which was purchased by Stroh's, which was bought by Pabst (who owns many brands but has no breweries, all of their labels are contract brewed, many by Miller). 

I don't think the can has changed a lick since 2010:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Left Hand Brewing Company Warrior IPA

This is a fall seasonal brewed once a year with fresh Colorado hops.  Left Hand is in Longmont, Colorado.

The beer pours a very pure, clear copper color.  The aroma is of light and airy fruit with some caramel and malt in the background.  This is not nearly as hoppy as I expected from a fresh hop IPA.  The hops and malt are pretty well balanced in the taste.  Their is caramel and some fruit with a bitter finish.  Nothing predominates, but while it is balanced, nothing really stands out much either.  This is a decent beer, but a poor fresh hop IPA.

Cropton Brewery - Scoresby Stout; Two Mugs English Ale

Two Mugs English Ale - 4.0% ABV.  This beer pours very light brown with a hint of amber, partly cloudy and very little head.  The aroma is light, airy, fruity, slightly sweet, a touch of caramel.  The taste has a nice deep nuttiness that was not present in the aroma.  This beer is heavy in flavor yet drinkably light.  This would be a great session ale.  This is a very delicious English bitter.  Apparently in Britain this is sold as Two Pints Bitter, but I guess they feel Two Mugs English Ale is more explanatory to the U.S. market. 

Scoresby Stout - 4.2% ABV.  This beer pours jet black with a half-inch of light brown foam.  The aroma is coffee, tartness and sweetness.  The taste is deep roasted malt, coffee, and a bit of dark chocolate.  There is a dry and slightly bitter finish.  This is a pleasing, full-flavored stout that is not too sweet and finishes dry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA

Rogue is out of Newport, Oregon.

This beer pours a light copper in color with a thick, foamy head that leaves light lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hoppy, with citrus fruit, tangerine and grapefruit, and a bit of tropical fruit.  The taste is of very flavorful yet airy fruity hops with tons of citrus and an extremely bitter finish.  This is a very good American IPA and better than a lot of the Rogue beers I have tried (although I do like their Kells Irish Lager).  The name of this beer is also good for a laugh, but don't ask me why there appears to a be a jockey hugging a dog on the bottle.

Stift Schlagl

The Stiftsbraurereischlagl is in Aigen, Austria. (Please note that if you don't speak German their website will do you no good, unless you use Google Chrome and have it translate.)

Red Ale - 5.7% ABV.  This beer pours amber/reddish in color with a light head that does leave slight lacing down the glass.  The aroma is malt forward, of grain with a touch of sweetness, a hint of caramel and light fruitiness.  The beer when tasted feels amazingly light for its taste which is very malty, full of grain, that hint of sweetness and fruit is there, but it is well balanced by a wave of hoppy bitterness and some lager "funk" in the finish.  This is an interesting beer.

Kristall - Pours a pure gold in color with a fairly thick, medium-sized head that does lace the glass.  The smell is of grain and aromatic hops, with just a bit of a sour note.  The flavor is intense, big grain and very bitter,  with a slightly metallic rather than dry finish.  5.6% ABV.

Roggen Gold - Also pours a pure gold in color, a tad darker than the Kristall with the same type of head.  The aroma is lighter than I would have expected a hint of grain and lager smell.  The flavor is fairly weak for a European lager, slight grain and weak bitter finish.  This is the disappointment of the three Schlagl's tried.  4.9% ABV.  I will say as the glass goes on, it gets a bit better, a little more flavor is apparent and it develops a nice creamy mouthfeel.

Harveys Elizabethan Ale

Brewed by Harvey & Son of Sussex, England.  This beer pours medium-brown in color with a bit of amber and no head.  The aroma is like sherry, it is sweet, caramel, raisins, and prunes.  The flavor is massive and weighty, of sherry and burnt caramel.  The mouthfeel is very thick and viscous.  This is 8.1% ABV.  This beer is far too sweet, thick and flat for my taste.  I know some people love beers like this, but I am not one of them.

Rieder Classic

From the Ried Brewery of Austria.

This beer pours a pure golden in color with a half-inch of thick foamy head that leaves light lacing down the glass.  It is amply carbonated.  There is an aroma of grain and dough.  The taste follows the aroma and has a bitter hop finish.  This beer is well balanced between its malt flavors and hop bitterness.  This is a very nice European lager.  5.5%ABV.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Port Brewing Company - High Tide Fresh Hop IPA; Mongo

The Port Brewing Company is in San Marcos, California.

High Tide Fresh Hop IPA - Dark honey golden with an inch of thick foamy head that laces the glass as the beer is consumed.  The aroma is hop forward, an intense aroma yet light, full of tropical fruit and tangerine.  The flavor is of citrus fruit and tropical fruit, there is a background of malt and the finish is intensely, bracingly and astringently bitter with a bit of pine and grass.  The aftertaste retains the flavors but also the bitterness.  6.5% ABV. This is an IPA with wonderful aroma and taste, but it is on the bitter end of the spectrum.   
From the bottle:  Our version of a seasonal IPA brewed and dry hopped with freshly harvested centennial and simcoe flower hops.   Fresh hop beers can only be brewed once a year during this annual fall harvest.  We use the hop cones at their peak of freshness bursting with flavor and aromas.  Each fall we brew High Tide IPA in celebration of the new crop year.  We hope this seasonal IPA will be a welcome addition to our lineup of distinguished beers and be sought by hop heads everywhere seeking something a little more extraordinary.

Mongo - This beer pours a glowing and radiant orange and light copper-amber and is somewhat cloudy.  There is a mountain of pillowy billowing head that is just off white that leaves light, ragged, but somewhat sticky lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hoppy and yeasty, fruity, tropical fruits, cantaloupe, citrus zest, and slightly spicy with just the slightest hint of pine.  The taste is a blast of hop forward fruit, followed by a yeasty zest, some bready malt and a very dry and bitter finish.  There is a large amount of yeast sediment in the bottle.

The beer is named after a cat that lived at the brewery, born Columbus, but nicknamed Mongo.  The bottle characterizes the thought of Mongo catching a wave.

Alpine Beer Company - Pure Hoppiness; McIlhenney's Irish Red; Nelson

Brewed in Alpine, California by the Alpine Beer Company. "Drink Alpine Ale or Go To Bed!"

Pure Hoppiness - 8% ABV. Pours a light copper to slightly amber and a bit cloudy with a thick foamy head that leaves some lacing. The aroma is of tropical fruit, citrus, a bit of banana and also quite a bit of malt. The taste is maltier than I would expect from an American IPA. In fact, I find that the malt tastes is just as much or not more forward than the hops. The hops do then come on strong with fruit, flowers and an extremely bitter finish. The aroma and flavor of the malt in some beers is not much to my liking and this is one of them. It’s too bad because the hop portion is so nice.

McIlhenney's Irish Red - This 6.0% ABV beer pours a glowing and clear reddish-brown.  It has a small off-white head.  The aroma is malty, mostly nutty, a bit of dark stone fruits, with a bit of roasted sweetness.  The taste is both sweet and tart, plum, cherry, caramel, nutty, scone.

Nelson – 7% ABV. Pours copper in color and slightly cloudy with a slight thick foamy head that leaves some lacing. The aroma is of citrus; grapefruit, tangerine and lime, and also a spicy maltiness. This does include rye. The malt becomes more and more strong and overwhelms the really nice hoppiness. The malt aroma is of burnt rubber and very unappealing.  I am starting to think that although I really enjoy rye bread and rye whiskey, there is something about beer brewed with rye that creates a flavor I really don't like.

Great American Beer: 50 Brands That Shaped the 20th Century

This book is by Christopher O' Hara.  It gives a short history of American beer.  It then outlines what it picks as America's most timeless brands.  It then further goes on to list what it considers the other great American beers.  This is not about craft beers.  This is about the "great" popular beers that began in the nineteenth century or early twentieth century.  Most are actually around in some form yet today although their owners and who actually brews them may have changed hands many times over the years.  A few have a more direct lineage.

If you have an interest or love for the classic American beers (lagers mostly) this is an interesting book.  The illustrations of old bottles, cans and ads are intriguing.  Each beer gets a one page short history.  However, this book is like chips or candy.  It is enticing, tasty, appealing, but in the end it will not fill you up or satisfy you.  It is a great overview, but it really just leaves you wanting even more, meatier, information.

From the beers listed in the book here are the ones I have had and not had.  I would like to get the "not had" list down only to those no longer made.  If one of them is available in your area, let me know:

Had                                                                             Not Had

Budweiser                                                                    Rheingold
Pabst Blue Ribbon       
Ranier                                                                          Falstaff (not made anymore?)
Schlitz                                                                          Pearl
Hamm's                                                                        Schmidt's (not made anymore)
Ballantine                                                                      Berghoff 
Iron City                                                                      
Schaefer                                                                       Billy Beer (not made anymore)
Blatz                                                                             Lucky Lager (not made anymore)
Piels                                                                             Weidemann (not made anymore)
Black Label                                                                   Hofbrau (not made anymore)
Coors                                                                           Bartel
Lowenbrau                                                                   Ortlieb's (not made anymore)
Grain Belt                                                                     Olde Frothingslosh (not made anymore)
Genesee Cream Ale
Lone Star
Rolling Rock
Old Milwaukee
Milwaukee's Best
Old Style
Point Special Lager
National Bohemian
Meister Brau
Buckeye (the revamped label, not the original that stopped brewing in 1971)
Utica Club

Allgauer Brauhaus Teutsch Pils

Brewed in Kempten, Germany. 

Honey gold in color with a half inch of foamy head that laces down the glass.  Aroma of dry but fresh grain, straw and a bit of fresh dirt; a certain earthiness.  The taste is of grain, biscuit, a bit of lager funk and an aromatic and bitter finish.  A nice German pils.  I am sure none of these compare to what they would taste like completely fresh and on tap in Germany.  4.8% ABV.

Wurzburger Hofbrau Pilsner

This beer is from the Wurzburg Brewery in Wurzburg, Bavaria, Germany. 

Pours honey golden with a nice head that fades in a few minutes and leaves lacing down the glass as the beer is consumed.  It has an aroma of being surrounded by clean, fresh grain and straw on a crisp fall day.  It has a very strong malt, grain flavor with a very bitter hop finish.  The more a pilsner reminds me of being on a farm (I mean the fresh clean smells and not the manure) the higher it rates.  While this is not the best pilsner by any means, it certainly puts me on the farm. 

Mission Brewery IPA

From the Mission Brewery , Chula Vista, San Diego County, California.

This beer is 6.8% ABV and pours a solid copper color.  The aroma is light and fruity.  Oddly enough for an IPA it is more like cherries, plums and grapes than citrus.  The flavor is tangy, slightly fruity, very bitter with a solid malt background.  It has a very bitter finish that is somewhat more metallic than dry. 

According to the bottle this won the bronze medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival.  I don't know why, there are many West Coast IPA's that are better than this.  I think perhaps they were going more for the traditional British IPA style.  I was assuming a California type IPA.  My disappointment in this beer is probably due to my expecting the wrong thing, or my bottle was not fresh enough.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Boulevard Brewing Co. - 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale; Smokestack Series Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

From the Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri.

21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale - Celebrating their 21st Anniversary, 1989-2010.  This is in a 750-ml bottle with cork and stopper.  It is 7.4% ABV. This beer pours dark copper/amber in color.  There is a slight head of creamy foam.  The aroma is hop forward balanced on a deep malt base.  There is light grapefruit and tropical fruit and a bit of cantaloupe with a hint of caramel maltiness in the background.  The taste is well-balanced with an initial wave of fruity hops followed by a rich maltiness and a semi-dry, bitter finish.  The beer feels soft and round in the mouth.  There is the tight, tiny soft fizziness of bottle-conditioned carbonation.  This is a really nice, elegant and well-balanced beer.

Smokestack Series Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner - This 8.0% ABV beer is a collaboration with the Orval brewery of Belgium.  The beer pours a dark honey and yellow golden.  There is a large foamy white head.  The aroma is thickly malty, grain, straw, slightly sweet, crusty french bread, some lager funk and grassy and aromatic hops.  The taste follows the aroma with some honey floral notes added in.  A rich, malty, tasty and slightly sweet pilsner that finishes dry.  Delicious.


Cerveza TJ - Tijuana

TJ Light - Pours a very pale, light golden color.  Slight aroma of grain and straw  with just the tiniest hint of lager "funk".  A bit of a sour aroma as well.  The taste is extremely light, a bit of lager taste and a slightly metallic finish.  The bottle describes this as Mexican craft beer, but this one is just like any run of the mill macro American adjunct lager and not even as good as most major brand Mexican lager beers.  3.5% ABV.

TJ Guera - Pours a light golden color (although much darker than the light).  Slight aroma of grain but mostly metallic, sour and green apple.  Taste is metallic, sour and bitter.  This is a very lousy beer.   The Light is actually better than this.  This beer is not worth a second try.

Salopian Brewing Company Entire Butt English Porter

The Salopian Brewing Company is in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, U.K.  According to the bottle "entire butt" is historically the term used to describe a porter that is blended from a variety of ales.  This beer uses 14 different malts including barley, wheat and oats.  4.2% ABV.

This beer pours very dark brown to black.  It is well carbonated in the way that many bottle conditioned beers are.  The aroma is of dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, a bit of sweetness and also some sour notes, probably from the yeast.  The taste is deep, rich, dark, lots of coffee, some dark chocolate, not at all overly sweet (as too many American porters are) and has a nice dry, bitter finish.  The mouthfeel is very smooth, perhaps due to the oats.  This is an absolutely excellent porter.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Russian River Brewing Company

The Russian River Brewing Company is in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California.

Pliny the Elder - Ahhh, one of the Holy Grails of the beer world.  This pours a very clear and sparkling copper.  The head laces the glass as the beer is consumed. The aroma is deliciously and divinely hoppy: citrus, grapefruit, cantaloupe, mango, tropical fruit, and a bit of clean and light pine.  Every aroma is matched in the flavor.  This is a hop head's delight.  The finish is bitter.  The aftertaste is clean, matching the flavors, all of which linger on the palate.  This is the second time I have had Pliny and it is as good as I remember.  If you like American hop forward IPA's, this is a classic, excellent and high benchmark example of the style.  This beer is so exquisitely tasty, it is hard to believe it is 8% ABV.  Bottled on 10-18-10.

According to the bottle:  Pliny the  Elder, born in 23 A.D., was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer.  Pliny, and his contemporaries, created the original botanical term for hops, "Lupus Salictarus" meaning "wolf among scrubs".  Hop vines at that time grew wild among willows, likened to wolves roaming wild in the forest.  Pliny the Elder died in 79 A.D. while saving people during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle's legacy by documenting much of what his uncle experienced during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  This beer is an homage to the man who discovered hops and perished while being a humanitarian.

Blind Pig - This pours a very light copper in color with some lacing as the beer is consumed.  The aroma is hoppy, cantaloupe, mango and grapefruit.  The flavor follows the aroma, followed by a wave of malt, and then a bitter finish.  This has some of the same aromas and flavors as the Pliny the Elder, but it is less deep and less complex.  There is more going on with the Pliny the Elder, but this is still as good as or better than most IPA's.   6.1% ABV.  Bottled on 10-22-10.

According to the bottle:   Ask for a "blind pig" in a saloon during prohibition and you might just get a beer... During prohibition, using the term "blind pig" discretely meant many different things.  Sometimes it was the secret code given to a bartender to receive a beer.  In other places, it meant you paid a small fee to see a "blind pig", and along with the viewing you'd get a beer, or something else...And what type of glassware would your "blind pig" be served in?  An unmarked mason jar of course.  In those days, a mason jar was known as a pig, and an unmarked mason jar was known as a Blind Pig.

If you got a beer during prohibition, I doubt it was a hop forward American-style IPA.

Both labels are ringed with admonishments that hoppy beers are not meant to be aged, and to retain the most flavor to keep them cold and drink them as fresh as possible.  This is true for American style IPA's whose hop forward aromas and flavors do apparently break down over time, in a matter of months.  This is also ironic when one considers that the original India Pale Ale was massively hopped by the British as a way to preserve the beer from spoilage on the long, hot voyage to India.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Schonram Brewery

The Private Ladbrauerei Schonram of Schonram, Germany.

Surtaler Light Beer - Light golden in color and well carbonated.  The aroma is of grain and fresh wet straw.  The taste is of grain and straw with a good amount of lager funk, but a bit tartly metallic on the finish along with the hop bitterness.  Only 3.4% ABV.  Still, it is better than most American lagers.

Schonramer Gold Fest Beer - Light golden in color.  A light aroma of freshly harvested grain and straw with a hint of sour or tart.  The flavor is of grain and straw, but also a sweet and tart effect.  6.0% ABV.

Schonramer Pils - Light golden in color with a dense yet bubbly head that provides some lacing as the beer goes down.  Aroma of grain and straw, lager funk, slightly metallic.  The taste follows the aroma exactly and has a bitter finish.  There is a nice aftertaste of grain and lager muskiness.  5.4% ABV.

Cricket Hill Brewing Company - East Coast Lager; Paymaster's Porter Ale; Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale

The Cricket Hill Brewery is out of Fairfield, New Jersey.

East Coast Lager - Pours a yellow golden with a small rapidly disappearing head.  The aroma is fairly light, of grain and apples.  The taste does not have as much malt-grain as most lagers, is light with a lot of fruit taste, some sweetness, and has a bitter finish after the wave of fruit sweetness passes.  A somewhat interesting beer at first, but not a good "lager".  As I continue with the glass, a slight soapiness develops in the taste that is nauseating.

Paymaster's Porter Ale - This beer pours densely black, opaque, with no head.  The aroma is slightly sweet, dark roasted malt, very chocolaty.  The taste is dark roasted malt, dark bitter chocolate.  This is leagues better than their other two beers I have tried.

Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale - This beer pours a cloudy orange in color with a touch of brown and an off-white head.  The aroma is yeasty, estery, with banana notes, spicy like cloves and coriander, and a lemony sourness.  The taste is brighty, zesty, spicy, and lemony zesty, with the yeast coming through on the finish, but in a much more subdued manner than in the aroma.  This is a flavorful but citurs zesty light summer drinker.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sly Fox Brewing Co. - 113 India Pale Ale; Pikeland Pils

This is from the Sly Fox Brewing Company in Royersford, Pennsylvania.  They can all their beers.

113 India Pale Ale - This beer pours a dark copper to amber in color.  The aroma is hop forward but subdued, with citrus and tropical fruit, but with a detectable malt backbone.  The flavor is mostly malt with a bitter finish.  I note this can is one week past its best by date.  They say that IPA's can really lose their hop flavor and aroma if not fresh and this one may be suffering from that.  7.0% ABV.

Pikeland Pils - This 4.9 % ABV beer pours a hazy, yet smoldering, golden yellow.  It is violently carbonated with a huge, billowing head of white foam.  The aroma is malty grain, straw, a little grass, and dusty barn.  The taste is dry, lots of malt and grain, lager "funk", with a grassy and bitter finish.  One of the best American pilsners I have tried, and one of the very few that actually approach the flavor of a German or Czech pils.

New Jersey Beer Co.

The New Jersey Beer Company is in North Bergen, New Jersey.

Hudson Pale Ale - Pours a dark copper to amber in color.  The aroma is malty, fruity, and a hint of spiciness.  The yeast predominates in the flavor to me.  The rest of the taste is balanced between the malt and the hops, but whatever is going on there is drowned by the yeastiness.  Highly and finely carbonated.  I don't like really yeasty beers, so this one is not highly rated for me.  5.8% ABV.

Garden State Stout - This is a stout brewed with chocolate and raisins.  6.6% ABV.  This pours jet black with little carbonation and an extremely thin dark brown head that rapidly disappears.  The aroma is dark, roasted, chocolatey, with both sour and sweet notes.  There is a raisiny hint in the aroma but it is not a "raisin" aroma per se.  The taste is of creamy dark chocolate, a hint of coffee and the dried dark fruit in the background, along with some caramel sweetness.  There is a sour hint.  There are also some hints of dark tobacco in the aftertaste.  This is the dark Belgian chocolate "raisenet" version of a stout.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kotayk Lager Beer

This beer is from Armenia and is 5.2% ABV.

It pours a dark honey golden in color.  The aroma is musky, of grain, straw and a hint of grass.  The taste follows right in the footsteps of the aroma.  The flavors of grain, straw and grass lurk in the middle of a very large lager "funk", then there is a bright note in the taste that flashes and then the finish is refreshingly bitter.  The aftertaste is the direct lingering taste of the beer itself.  I get the sense that if you had this fresh out the tap in Armenia, it might be one of the best lagers you ever had.

Estrella Galicia

This pours honey golden in color.  The aroma is of grain and straw with lager "funk."  It tastes exactly as it smells.  A typical European lager.  4.7% ABV.

Bridgeport Hop Czar Imperial IPA

Bridgeport Brewing Company is out of Portland, Oregon.  The proclaim themselves to be Oregon's oldest craft brewery.  I love the czar on the bottle.

Dark copper with hints of amber in color.  Aroma is hop forward, with citrus, floral and tropical fruits balanced by a spicy maltiness.  The taste follows the aroma, there is citrus, cantalopue, mango and a bit of pine in the flavor.  The malt flavor is not particularly noticeable but is detectable in the balance it provides, the foundation it gives for the hops to do their work.  The finish is bracingly dry and bitter.  7.5% ABV.

Lammsbrau Organic Pilsner Premium Bavarian Lager

Brewed by Neumarkter Lammsbrau of Bavaria, Germany which was Europe's first organic brewery.  This beer is USDA certified organic.  It pours cloudy and golden in color with a nice head.  It has a pleasant aroma of grain and clean, fresh straw with a hint of floral hops.  The flavor follows the aroma, has a touch of what I call the lager "funk" and just a bit of tartness before a slightly bitter hop finish.  A very pleasant German lager.  4.8% ABV.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Smuttynose Brewing Co. - IPA; Pale Ale; Big A IPA

The Smuttynose Brewing Co. is out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

IPA - 1.  Pours a very light copper in color, slightly cloudy.  The aroma is light hops with a much more intense malt background.  The flavor is more malt than hops, what hops are present are light, fruity, citrusy.  This is a few months past its best before date, which is generally not good for an IPA.  I can sense a potential in here, I think my hops have just gone past their prime in this one.  2.  Here is my second try on this beer.  I have a fresh one that was sent to me.  This pours a glowing copper in color and is cloudy, nearly translucent.  The aroma is hop forward, a bit fruity, floral, aromatic, airy, a bit of pine resin.  The malt is also noticeable in the back of the aroma, like a spicy rye.  The taste is a delicious fruity and floral hops, tropical fruit, a bit of cantaloupe, hanging perfectly on a solid yet unobtrusive malt background.  The finish is quite bitter and dry.  The freshness makes a big difference on this one.  This is really good.

Shoals Pale Ale - Pours a dark copper to amber color.  The aromas are balanced and subtle.  There is some caramel, malt, fruit and floral.  The flavor is predominantly malty but with notes of fruit and floral hops.  The finish is bitter.

Big A IPA- This beer pours a hazy, cloudy burnt orange in color.  There is a half-inch of foamy and thick off-white head.  The aroma is nasty, sweaty gym socks and vomit.  This is a beer past its prime.  The taste is much better than the aroma, but still not that good.  It is malty in a stale bread kind of way, bitter, a memory of fruit.  There is a grapefruit peel bitter astringency.  I would try this again fresh to see how it compares, but this bottle is six months old and not pleasing to me.

High Point Wheat Beer Co. Ramstein Classic Wheat Beer

This beer pours a very dark brown to light black with a massive head.  It has an interesting aroma, dark, roasted grain, slightly smokey, a hint of coffee and a touch of yeast.  The flavor is overwhelmingly tangy, almost sour with the dark roasted flavors left in the background to come through on the aftertaste. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blue Point Brewing Company - Hoptical Illusion IPA; Toasted Lager

Blue Point Brewing is from Long Island, New York.

Hoptical Illusion IPA - 6.8% ABV.  Honey golden with a hint of copper with a quickly dissipating  head.  The aroma is slight for an IPA, light floral and fruit hops with a slight sour note as well.  The flavor is fairly light, of malt, fruit, hop, and soapy.  The finish is bitter.  This beer is very disappointing.  The bottle is not dated in any way, perhaps I got an old bottle.  I hope so for their sake, otherwise this beer is just a plain lousy IPA.

Toasted Lager - Dark golden to light copper in color with a quickly dissipating head that leaves some lacing.  The aroma is floral and tart but also with sweet pastry.  The flavor is malty, slightly sweet along with some counterbalancing hops, light biscuit with a sweet and tart fruit jam on it.  A lot going on, but the overall effect is not really to my liking.

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Glarus Brewing Co.- Dancing Man Wheat; Snowshoe Ale; Laughing Fox

The New Glarus Brewing Company is in New Glarus, Wisconsin.  I have coveted some New Glarus beer for a long time.  A friend just went to Wisconsin and was kind enough to bring some back for me.  I would love to visit the brewery some day.

Snowshoe Ale - This red ale pours medium brown and ruby in color; the color is just light enough to still be transparent.  There is a quarter inch of cappucino colored head.  The aroma is slightly burnt caramel malt and dark red cherry fruit.  The taste is a slightly sweet, nutty, roasted and toasted malt, with a woody, dry and bitter finish. 

Dancing Man Wheat - This beer pours a glowing golden orange with a massive white foamy head.  The aroma is redolent of yeast, with lots of banana esters.  This beer is yeasty, banana bread made with wheat flour.  The taste follows the aromas directly.  If you like yeasty wheat beers heavy on the banana esters, then you will love this beer.  It is really well done, but its flavor profile is probably my least favorite when it comes to beers. 

Laughing Fox - This beer pours a dark copper-amber with brown.  There is a tall half-inch of creamy, foamy off-white head.  The aroma is a touch of caramel and then banana and banana bread.  The taste is banana bread all the way.  If you like a really yeasty beer with esters giving off banana flavor, then this is a good one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Belgium Brewing 2 Below Ale; Snow Day

The New Belgium Brewing company is in Fort Collins, Colorado.

2 Below Ale - This beer pours a light and bright copper in color with three-quarters inch of head which laces the glass.  The aroma is hoppy, brassy, strangely almost a hint of fishiness.  The flavor is hoppy, firmly founded on a nice malt, and follows the aroma.  Flavorful, yet light and brassy.  This beer is intriguing.  I am interested to try it again on another day and double check my impressions.

Snow Day - In 2011, Snow Day has replaced 2 Below as a winter seasonal.  This 6.2% ABV beer pours very dark brown in color, opaque, with ruby edges when held to the light.  It has a half-inch of somewhat creamy, foamy head that is off-white to light brown in color and leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hoppy, spicy, touch of cloves, over a roasted malt.  The taste is dark roasted, toasted malt, with a zesty and spicy hoppiness.  This is a very good and full-flavored beer, great holiday seasonal.