Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shiner Dortmunder Style Spring Ale

This is the spring seasonal from Shiner Beers, the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas.

The beer pours a dark golden color with some copper and amber.  The aroma is fresh, tall grass, fresh grain, biscuit, with a bit of aromatic fruit and flower.  The taste is sweet grain followed immediately by an intense bitterness that is slightly fruity.  The mouth feel is crisp and intensely carbonated to the point of a burning sensation.  This is both tasty and refreshing, I really enjoy it.  "There's nothing finer than a Springtime Shiner!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mission St. Pale Ale

I picked this up at Trader Joe's.  It is brewed and bottled by Steinhaus Brewing Company of Paso Robles, California.

This 4.7% beer pours a dark honey golden in color.  The aroma is slightly hop forward, and fruity.  The taste is a near equipoise balance between malt and hop, very fruity, like biscuit with jelly.  This beer is very drinkable but does not stand out in any way, which is probably what it was designed to be.

Buffalo Bill's Brewery Alimony Ale India Pale Ale

Buffalo Bill's is out of Hayward, California, but according to the bottle is brewed and bottled by Independent Brewers United of Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon, or Berkely, California. 

"It's Irreconcilably Different."

This beer pours dark copper/amber in color.  The aroma is hoppy yet on a decidedly malty base.  The aroma is very fruity, but hard to pinpoint to any particular fruits.  The taste is fruity, followed by a strong sweet bread base, with a bitter finish.  Just like the Madhouse Iowa Grown IPA I recently reviewed, this is a really good beer, but a poor American style IPA.  It is just not hop forward enough for that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Madhouse Brewing Company Iowa Grown IPA

This 6.0% ABV IPA is from the Madhouse Brewing Company of Newton, Iowa.  The hops used were grown entirely in Iowa by the Madhouse owners.

The beer pours dark copper-amber in color and fairly glows.  The color is intense.  The aroma is subdued for an IPA.  It is not as hop forward as I expected.  There is a refreshing light fruitiness, somewhat floral and a sweet malty base.  The taste is enjoyable, light and fruity, yet full and malty.  It is like a hearty Irish soda bread with a nice fruit jam.  There are also some tea like aftertastes.  As a beer this is good, as an IPA it is a failure.  It is like a good English ale.  Perhaps it was more hop forward when really fresh. 

The original review was of the 2010 bottling.  Trying the 2011 bottling here on December 30, 2011.  The beer is now 6.3% ABV and pours a glowing burnt orange, amber and copper in color with a quarter-inch of thick and creamy head, off-white in color.  The aroma is hop forward, tropical fruit, cantaloupe, and some citrus.  The taste has an odd Juicy Fruit gum component to it, something I have noticed before in their pale ale.  The taste is fruity, tea with lemon and some tobacco.  The aroma is much better as an IPA than last year's version, and the taste is good, yet that Juicy Fruit element is strangely disconcerting.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Terrapin Beer Co. - Rye Squared Imperial Pale Ale; Rye Pale Ale

The Terrapin Beer Co. is out of Athens, Georgia, although the bottle says this was brewed by the Frederick Brewing Company of Frederick, Maryland.

Rye Squared Imperial Pale Ale - This 8.5% ABV beer pours a dark yet bright brown, like the color of dark sun-brewed iced tea, except that it is also cloudy, nearly translucent.  The aroma is sweet and fruity like pastry or fruitcake.  The taste is the same, but a bit of spiciness from the rye is also apparent.

Rye Pale Ale - This 5.5% ABV beer pours a bright amber in color.  There is essentially no head.  The aroma is lightly fruity, stone fruits, a touch of funkiness, and some spicy, fragrant rye malt notes.  The taste is better than the aroma, fruity, cherry and plum, with a nicely balanced earthy, herbal, rye maltiness.

Troegs Brewing Company - Pale Ale; Sunshine Pils

Troegs is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Pale Ale - This 5.4% ABV beer pours light orangish-amber-copper in color.  The aroma is hop forward, but not too strong, and balanced by a malt sweetness.  The taste is tropical fruit, melon, and sweet biscuit.  It is nicely balanced although hops predominate.  It is a good American hop forward pale ale.

Sunshine Pils - This 5.3% ABV beer pours a pale golden in color with a small white head that leaves sticky lacing of medium density down the glass.  The aroma fresh harvested dry grain, a bit of fresh straw and lager "funk."  The taste is grain and bright, fruity, hops that provide a dry and bitter finish.  This is a really good American pilsner.

Stoudts Brewing Company - Gold Lager Munich Style Helles; Winter Ale; Double IPA

The Stoudts Brewing Company is in Adamstown, Pennsylvania.

Gold Lager Munich Style Helles - This beer pours golden in color with a pure white head, and is amply and finely carbonated.  The aroma is of biscuit and grain, but with sharp, bitter and metallic notes.  The taste is aromatic, grain, some green apple, and bitter.  It is a bit hard to describe.  The flavor is strong, but a bit too harsh in its bitterness, although one becomes more accustomed to it as the beer is consumed.

Winter Ale - This beer pours a glowing medium brown, dark copper, and orange in color with a tall quarter inch of light brown head.  The aroma is very malty, slightly sweet, caramel, slightly burnt sugar and dark fruits.  The taste is a well balanced blend of the aromas with enough hops on the finish that it ends dry and slightly bitter and is never overly sweet.  This is a fine winter ale.

Double IPA - This beer pours a hazy orange-amber in color.  There is a short head of light off-white foam.  The aroma is flowers, stone fruit, malt, a bit of caramel, and some yeast.  The taste is smooth, stone fruits, slightly sweet malt.  This bottle is fairly old, especially for an IPA.  I would love to try this one fresh because it is still pretty tasty several months old.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stoudt's Brewing Co. Pils

Stoudt's Brewing Company is out of Adamstown, Pennsylvania.  This is a German style pilsener. 

The beer is pale golden in color and pours with a large head that dissipates rather quickly and leaves very light lacing.  The aroma is biscuits and crackers with a sharp hop bitterness.  It has an intense flavor for an American brewed pilsener. It has a cooked grain and fresh corn taste with an extremely bitter finish.  Now, a bitter finish is not a bad thing for a pilsener, but this one is too disconnected from the taste of the beer.  The bitterness stands alone at the finish instead of being a natural extension and end to all the other flavors.  I will say, that as the beer is consumed, the bitterness does start to merge more into the other flavors.  But it is oddly intense at the beginning.

Troegs Brewing Company Nugget Nectar Imperial Amber

Troegs Brewing Company is out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

This beer is 7.5% ABV and pours a dark copper-amber-orange in color.   There is a short head of creamy foam, off-white to very light brown in color.  The aroma is intensely hoppy, absolutely gorgeous and delicious.  It has almost every common hop aroma, none really predominant, in a wondrous equipoise that creates its own new aroma.  There is pine, citrus, cantaloupe, tropical fruit, floral, sweetness, a hint of lemon ice tea and tobacco as well.  The taste is everything the aroma is.  There is a quite bitter finish.  If you like hop forward beers, you will love this.  It's not that it has something that every other hop forward beer has, it has everything that every hop forward beer has, yet it is in perfect balance and very drinkable at the same time. It has an absolutely intense flavor and aroma.  I am blown away by this beer.  Superb.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Olde Main Brewing Co. - Sodbuster Stout; Clone American Pale Ale

From the Olde Main Brewing Company in Ames, Iowa.

Sodbuster Stout - This beer pours dark as midnight on a moonless night inside a cave whose walls are made of coal; I mean this thing is dark.  There is no head at all and it appears slightly viscous as it pours.  The aroma is dark, roasted malt, coffee, mocha, and somewhat sweet.  The taste follows the aroma but also has a very sour finish.  I had previously tried this on tap, and I have to say it was far better on tap.  My recollection of it was that it was drier on tap, without the sour finish.

Clone American Pale Ale - A good name for this beer, as Ames is home to the Iowa State Cyclones.  This beer pours a slightly hazy orange-amber in color with a good half-inch of off white foamy head.  The aroma is lightly fruity, of dark stone fruits, malty, a bit yeasty, with some floral aromas.  The taste follows the aromas, dark stone fruit, floral, yeasty, a touch of citrus, over a light base of caramel and malt.  The finish is moderately bitter and dry.  A tasty and nicely balanced pale ale.

I have also tried their Gryphonbrau Lager that is only available on tap at the brew pub.  It is a malty and flavorful American lager, very drinkable.

Meantime London Porter

This 6.5% ABV beer is from the Meantime Brewing Company of Greenwich, London, England.

The beer is bottle conditioned, so I stored it upright and handled it gently.  However, it still overfoamed and sprayed out all over from the cap when I opened the bottle.  It's massive head eventually foamed down.  The color is very dark brown, cloudy, opaque.  The aroma is of bright, tart, sparkling yeast, aromatic, floral, with the dark roasted malt and coffee in the background.  The taste is in two separate parts.  There is the dark, roasted, coffee malt and also the bright, fruity, aromatic, hops and yeast.  This makes it drink lighter and zestier than your normal porter which is usually predominantly dark roasted malt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

From the famous brewery at St. James's Gate, Dublin, Ireland.  This 7.5% ABV stout is the Guinness export version.  For many years it was exported to other parts of the world, and it is finally again available in the United States.  It was previously available in the United States from 1817 until Prohibition.  It has extra hops, which in the days before refrigeration were meant to help preserve the beer on its export journey.

This beer pours coal black with a large head of brown foam.  The aroma is predominantly aromatic, floral and fruity with a slightly smoky, dark roasted malt in the background.  The taste reverses the aroma.  The malt is predominant in the taste which is creamy, dark, roasted, coffee, bitter, with the floral and fruity notes that are primary in the aroma appearing on the finish in the taste. 

This is much more complex in its flavor than regular Guinness.  It has hoppy notes that remind me of those in the Meantime IPA, but it is not vinous in character and of course has the stout malt going on as well, which changes the hop notes somewhat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Meantime Brewing Company - India Pale Ale; Scotch Ale

The Meantime Brewing Company is in London, England.

India Pale Ale - This beer pours bright copper in color, almost a hint of orange, somewhat cloudy, and with essentially no head.  The aroma is fragrant, floral, fruity, with tropical fruits and citrus, but in white wine vinous manner and not in an American IPA manner.  The taste is like a dry, fruity white wine layered on a bed of water cracker malt with a touch of carmelization and sherry.  This beer is unique and tasty.  In addition, the bottles are very cool and a unique shape for a 11.2 oz. bottle.  7.5% ABV.

Scotch Ale - This 8.0% ABV bottle conditioned ale pours dark brown, ruby, garnet in color, dark but translucent.  There is a tall quarter-inch of light brown foam.  The aroma is malty, molasses-caramel, sherry and port, with a whiff of almost cinnamon-like spice.  The taste is malty, sweet, following the aromas, but drinking amazingly light and creamy for its massive flavor.  The lingering finish brings in flavors of moist, sweet tobacco.  This is a deep, rich malt bomb of a beer.

Bell's Brewery Batch 10,000 Commemorative Ale

Bell's Brewery is in Comstock, Michigan.

Batch 10,000 Commemorative Ale - This beer pours a very dark brown, black really, with the light at the bottom showing what appears to be some ruby.  The heard is an inch of creamy very light brown foam.  The aroma is hop forward, very big, and complex.  There is pine, resin, grapefruit peel, smoke, black licorice/star anise, dried dark fruits, sweetness, a bit of fruitcake, and more, but it gets hard to differentiate.  The aroma is so full of energy, it is vibrating.  The taste is massive without being overwhelming, and suprisingly light in the mouth and drinkable for all its taste.  It is deep rich, roasted, smokey, but not really in a coffee or chocolate way (although more coffee does appear as it warms), more in a light peat, light whiskey, chicory manner.  The aroma was hop forward, but the taste is more malt forward, with the hops appearing on the finish, providing some pine resin and a bracingly dry bitterness.  9.2% ABV.

It is my understanding that there have been some really split opinions from beer heads on this beer.  I think it is massive, interesting and complex, with a bold aromas and taste, while still being very drinkable.  I am in the very positive camp on this one.

From the website about this beer:  "...our brewers used over 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables, and followed them up with a blend of  60 different hop varietals between the kettle additions and dry-hopping."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Empyrean Brewing Company Luna Sea E.S.B.

The Empyrean Brewing Company is in Lincoln, Nebraska.

This 5.9% ABV beer pours a cloudy, hazy dark copper in color, wtih hints of amber.  The aroma is of roasted, nutty malt.  It is much more darkly roasted in its aroma than I would expect from an ESB.  The taste is very  nutty, and slightly sweet and aromatic, like hazelnuts and pistachios.  The finish has some tartness and then winds up slightly bitter and dry.  This is a very  interesting beer, and if you like nut brown ales you should really like this beer.

Gray's Brewing Company

Gray's Brewing Company is in Janesville, Wisconsin and is one of the oldest family owned breweries in the United States, starting back in 1856.  However, it took a hiatus from beer from 1912 until 1994, during which time it produced only soda.  The plant was destroyed by arson in 1994 and when they rebuilt they decided to add beer back into their production line.  They do still also make soft drinks.

Busted Knuckle Irish Style Ale - This beer pours a cloudy reddish amber in color with a large, but rapidly dissipating head of light tan foam.  The aroma is bright and yeasty, with malt and crisp fall apples.  The taste is fruity, plums and apples.  This beer is tasty, but does not strike me as an Irish style ale.  It is way too yeasty and fruity to my taste to qualify for its moniker.  I do love the label, they should make a push to sell this in South Bend, Indiana during football season.  It would fly off the shelf by the lable alone.

Honey Ale - "All Buzz, No Bite"  This beer pours honey golden in color.  The aroma is sweet tart, you get the sweetness of the honey, some green apple, and a tart hoppiness.  The taste is sweet, malty, light, crisp and refreshing.  This is a really nice light honey beer.  If you like the style, make sure to check this one out.

Oatmeal Stout - "Big. Black. Bold."  This beer pours a pure, dense black in color.  The aroma has the common American stout characteristic of being sweet yet tart at the same time.  There is some dark roasted malt apparent.  The taste is strong dark roasted malt, with a touch of sweetness and a twangy tang at the end, then a bitter coffee finish.

Bully Porter - This has Fred the bulldog on the bottle.  The beer pours opaque black.  The aroma is dark roasted malt, with some coffee and dark cocoa and a slight sharp tang at the end.  The taste follows the aroma, the coffee is deeper and richer in the taste, and the finish is not sharp or sour but coffee bitter.  If you like a deep rich porter, you'll like this one.

Potosi Brewing Company - Snake Hollow IPA; Gandy Dancer Porter; Wee Stein Wit

The Potosi Brewing Company is in Potosi, Wisconsin.  All of their profits go to charity, according to the bottle, although said charities would appear to be the Potosi Brewery Foundation and National Brewery Museum.  The brewery is also home to the National Brewery Museum.  The Potosi Brewery originally brewed from 1852 until 1972 when it was shuttered.  The brewery was slowly revived starting in 1995.

Snake Hollow India Pale Ale - This 7.0% ABV beer pours copper in color with a thin, but lingering, head that leaves medium lacing on the glass.  The aroma is hop forward with both citrus and pine.  The taste is pine with a touch of citrus peel mounted on a fairly intensely flavored malt background.  The malt tastes of rye.  The beer drinks easy for its intense taste and alcohol content and finishes bitter and dry.  If you like your IPA on a very solid malt back, then this one is for you.  If you like your IPA totally hoppy-fruit forward, then the malt here might be too intense for you.

Gandy Dancer Porter - This 6.0% ABV beer pours black in color.  The aroma is fairly light, with some roasted malt, cocoa and vanilla.  The taste is also fairly mild for a porter and follows the aroma, with a bitter finish.

Wee Stein Wit - This 5.5% ABV beer is a Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with spices.  The beer pours a pale golden yellow, slightly hazy with almost no head.  The aroma is wheat malt, yeast, spices, mostly clove and orange peel.  The taste is very yeasty.  Good if you like yeast forward beers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Madhouse Brewing Company Pastime Pale Ale

This brewery is run by the Jasper Winery folks in Newton, Iowa. They put their brewery in the old Maytag factory. The pale ale is called Pastime which is also the name of the first washing machine by Maytag that came out in 1907.

This 5.2% ABV beer pours dark copper in color with a quarter-inch of rapidly dissipating head.  The aroma is hop forward, with some fruit and sweet malt in the background and just a hint of soapiness.  The taste is light yet intense at the same time, very fruity, cantaloupe and tropical fruit, some rye-like spiciness in the malt, and a bit of tobacco.  The aftertaste is oddly like Juicy Fruit gum.  An interesting pale ale.

Trying this again on June 9, 2011.  The appearance is the same.  The aroma is not as hop forward.  The fruity aroma is still there with the sweet caramel malt.  No soapiness thank goodness.  The taste is still fruity but missing the cantaloupe and tropical fruit.  The Juicy Fruit taste is even stronger.  There is no rye-like spiciness or tobacco. 

I have tried this beer three times and I have to say I enjoyed the first time (when it was brand new) the most.  It was a really hop forward American pale ale then.  Now it is more like an English style pale ale wtih Juicy Fruit gum replacing the hops.

Trader Joe's Hofbrau Bock

This is a 7.0% ABV golden bock "Josephs Brau" beer from Trader Joe's, their German inspired store brand beer line. It is brewed and bottled in San Jose, California (contract brewed by Gordon Biersch I hear).

The beer pours a light copper and amber in color, very clear and well-carbonated. It has an inch of thick white to off-white foamy head.  The aroma is somewhat sweet, malty, sweet potato, herbs akin to root beer, with dark fruit and yellow cake.  The taste follows the aromas, adds in roasted malt, brown toast, and is both bitter and sweet in quick succession at the end.  It lingers quite bitter and dry on the palate.

Peter's Brand Classics Dutch Style Pilsner

I got this at Trader Joe's.  It is described as a Dutch style pilsner and is a product of Germany.

It is made in Braunschweig, Germany by the Hofbrauhaus Wolters, under license from the Union Export Brewery of Breda, Holland.

The beer pours a very dark golden color with a generous white foamy head.  The aroma is heavy with grain and straw, biscuity, and a sharp tang of hops.  The taste follows the aroma very closely, there is very little bitterness on the finish, and in fact less than I would expect for this style.  This beer is very flavorful, but its downfall is that it has a very weak and watery mouthfeel.  It's too bad, the taste is great, but the feel in the mouth is wrong for the style.  5.0% ABV.