Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Beer Camp 2011

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is in Chico, California.  Their Beer Camp Series is a release of some styles different from their usual lineup.


Double IPA Camp #29 - This 8.5% ABV beer pours a dark golden orange in color, slightly hazy.  There is a half inch of thick, creamy, foamy head that is off-white in color.  The aroma is fruity, some citrus and tropical fruit.  This is a few months old, so probably not as fruity as it was totally fresh.  The malt is also apparent, with a slight rye-like spiciness.  The taste is fruity, tropical fruit and melon, over a very hearty malt base, with an extremely bitter finish and a fruity and bitter aftertaste.  I wish I could have tried this as soon as it was released.

Juniper Black Ale Camp #16 - This 8.0% ABV beer pours absolutely pitch black with a tall foamy head that is light brown in color and leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is pine on top of dark roasted malt, coffee, slightly sweet.  The taste is deep, dark, rich, roasted malt, coffee, with a very bitter finish that has a note of pine and a touch of sweetness. 

Weizenbock Camp #37 - This 6.8% ABV beer pours orange-copper in color, hazy, cloudy, yet bright.  There is a half-inch of white head.  The aroma is yeasty, banana, slightly spicy, almost root beer-like at times.  The taste is very yeasty, like a big slice of aromatic banana bread, a bit sweet, with that root beer touch on the finish.  Not my favorite style of beer, but very well done and flavorful.
California Common Camp #8 - "The California Common, or Steam Beer, is a unique 100% American style lager. It's usually brewed with a special strain of lager yeast that works better at warmer temperatures. This method dates back to the late 1800's in California when refrigeration was a great luxury. The brewers back then had to improvise to cool the beer down, so shallow fermenters were used. So in a way the lager yeast was trained to ferment quicker at warmer temperatures...Anchor Brewing Co. trademarked the term "Steam Beer" and as such all other beers must be legally referred to as "California Common."  From the Beer Advocate.
     This 6.5% ABV beer pours a bright and vividly glowing orange-copper in color.  There is a large foamy head, just off-white in color that leaves some lacing down the glass.  The aroma is fruity, plums and oranges, with a touch of sweetness, caramel, creamy.  The taste is fruity, biscuity, bright, clean, grassy, with a lightly bitter finish.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Worth Brewing Company

The Worth Brewing Company is in Northwood, Iowa.  It is in north central Iowa, very close to the Minnesota border, several miles east of Interstate 35 North.  Their beers are only available at the brewery (on tap and in growlers), which has a pub in front.  The hours are limited, so check their website before you go.  They have five standards, one rotating seasonal, and two guest taps.  The brewery is located in an historic building.  The beers are made in very small batches.  It is probably more correct to call this a nano brewery than a micro brewery.  The attention to the beers shows, they have a very solid lineup.  The beers are excellent representations of their styles (and delicious too).  While they are a bit off the beaten path, it is definitely worth the trip.  Highly recommended.

"If it's not hand crafted, it's not Worth Brewing."


Sunderland English Mild Ale - This is a low alcohol brew (3.1% ABV) in the style of English mild ales.  It is light brown in color, transparent, with a creamy off-white head that leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is roasted and toasted malt, nutty, an occasional touch of toffee.  The taste follows the aromas, it is very malty, but pleasantly so, and has a balanced bitter finish.  This is a very drinkable beer.

Dillon Clock Stopper - This 4.5% ABV beer pours a hazy pale gold, light straw in color.  It has a nice white head that leaves light to medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hop forward, very fruity with much tropical and citrus notes and the occasional touch of grass.  It drinks with the same wonderful fruits that are in the aroma.  It finishes clean, dry and perfectly bitter.  The fruitiness lingers in a pleasant aftertaste.  If you have had Surly Hell or Narragansett Summer Ale, this is similar to those and just as delicious.

Brown Ale - This 5.0%  ABV beer is light to medium brown in color with a hint of copper.  It is hazy with an off-white head that leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is dark roasted and toasted malt, nearing coffee.  The taste follows the aroma, it is slightly sweet with nutty toffee notes, but does finish pleasantly bitter.

 (Picture: Clockwise from the top - Sunderland Mild, Dillon Clock Stopper, Brown Ale, Field Trip IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Smoked Rye Porter)

Field Trip IPA - This 6.6% ABV beer pours a hazy golden-orange in color.  The aroma is hop forward, with plenty of tropical and citrus fruits.  The taste follows the aroma but is well balanced with malt, although the hops, appropriately for the style, predominate throughout.  It has a very bitter and dry finish.  This is a fine American style IPA.

Oatmeal Stout - This 5.8% ABV beer pours pure black in color, with a creamy head of off-white to light brown foam.  The aroma is deep, dark roasted malt, nearing almost burnt toast.  This had the deepest, darkest roasted malt aroma I have come across in a stout.  It has lots of deep, rich, dark roasted, mocha and coffee.  The taste follows the aroma, but is lighter than the aroma (lighter being relative, it is full-flavored).  There is lots of rich, dark coffee.  As with many stouts, there is a sour-tart note in the background.

Black Chow Smoked Rye Porter - This was the August seasonal offering when I visited.  It is 5.9% ABV and is dark black in color.  Some of the malt for this beer was kiln-dried in Wisconsin with cherry wood smoke.  The aroma is dark, roasted malt, and very, very smokey, but not out of balance.  The taste follows the aroma, there is both a sweet and tart note along with the dark roasted malt and smoke.  The mouthfeel is very smooth.  The aftertaste of smoke has a cherry note in it.  I am not a huge fan of smoked beers, but this was very well done.  If you are a fan of smoked beers, seek this out while it is still around.  Worth Brewing will be taking it to the Festival of Iowa Beers in Amana, Iowa on September 4, 2011.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sand Creek Brewing Company Ulrich's Authentic Dopplebock

The Sand Creek Brewing Company is in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

This beer pours dark brown and ruby, barely translucent, not transparent.  There is a small, light brown head.  The aroma is burnt caramel, molasses, dark and sweet.  The taste follows the aroma, massively and cloyingly sweet, with a dark roasted malt taste on the finish.  This beer is pretty good for the style, but is just far too sweet for my taste.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fat Weasel Ale

This 7.1% ABV beer is from the River Trent Brewing Company of Ukiah, California.  The beer pours a bright and orangish light copper in color.  There is a quarter inch of white head.  The aroma is honey and floral sweet, lightly fruity, a bit of pastry maltiness.  The taste follows the aroma, this is like eating a lightly sweet and fruity pastry.  Very drinkable and enjoyable.  This was found at Trader Joe's in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Straub Brewing Co. - Peter Straub's Special Dark

The Straub Brewing Company is in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania.  They have been brewing since 1872 with family brewing roots in the area since 1831.


Peter Straub's Special Dark - This beer pours a transparent light brown-copper in color with a small head of off-white foam that leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is grain, roasted malt, slightly sweet, yet crisply aromatic.  The taste is malty, bready, toasted, light, yet satisfying, slightly nutty.  This is a very tasty and drinkable, "light" dark beer.

Stegmaier Gold

The Stegmaier Brewing Company is in Wilkes-Barre,  Pennsylvania.  It brewed there from 1857 until 1974 when it was purchased by the Lion Brewery, also of Wilkes-Barre.  They have brewed the beer to the present day.

This beer pours golden in color with a small white head that leaves light to medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is light grain, some aromatic hops, and a slight touch of apple.  The taste is light, crisp, clean, light grain with a slightly fruity finish.  The carbonation stings in a thirst quenching way.  A nice easy drinking American style lager.

Duquesne Pilsener Beer

"The Prince of Pilsener."  "Born out of a hard work ethic & a pride in craftsmanship - Duquesne Your Hometown Beer."  "The Finest Beer in Town!"  Duquesne is brewed in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  This is a resurrection of what once was a popular beer in Pennsylvania, which had apparently died out but was revived by a new owner.

This beer pours dark golden in color, with a whirlwind of carbonation and a three-quarter inch high head of pure white foam that leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is crisp and bright, aromatic with hop bitterness and a touch of lager "funk", on a solid base of grainy malt.  The taste is slightly sweet, deep and rich light grain, with a smooth finish.  This is a really nice old style American lager.

Friday, August 19, 2011

St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

This is from the McAuslan Brewing company of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


This beer pours blacker than the darkest night, with a large, billowy head of brown foam that leave thick and sticky lacing of a medium density down the glass.  The aroma is clean dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate without any overt sweetness.  The taste is deep, rich, dark roasted malt, lots of coffee, some dark chocolate, with a dry and bitter finish.  Dry rather than sweet, with no sourness on the finish.  This is a fine and full-flavored stout.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hanssen's Artisanaal Oude Kriek

Hanssen's are not brewers of lambic beers, such as gueuze and this cherry kriek, but rather are blenders, since 1896 in Dworp, Belgium.  Each bottle of the Oude Kriek is matured for over three years.  This beer pours a red color that holds and shows every shade from pink to ruby at the same time.  It is well and finely carbonated, but has essentially no head.  The aroma is strong cherry fruit, both sweet and tart, there is a sour note that is independent of the tartness of the cherry, along with a woody, oaky, earthiness.  The taste is far more tart and sour than the aroma would indicate, but behind the mouth puckering sourness is the cherry fruit.  There is a taste element of the cherry stones as well as the fruit.

Milwaukee's Best - Premium; Light

While now long brewed by Miller, this beer was once its own independent brand.  The A. Gettleman Brewery was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1887.  In 1895 it began producing Gettelman's Milwaukee Best Beer.  This became Milwaukee's Best in 1956.  As early as 1961 the brand was acquired by Miller.  However, the 1975 introduction of Miller Lite took off and the brewing capacity was switched to Lite and "the Beast" was discontinued.  It came back to store shelves in 1984 and is Miller's value priced beer line.

Premium - The beer pours light honey golden with a small white head.  The aroma is light grain, a touch of corn, a mere hint of hops and a touch of apple tart-sweet.  The taste is extremely light, almost non-existent, very light grain, and an aftertaste that probably professes to be hops.  The mouth feel is incredibly carbonated, yet still watery.

Light - This beer pours a very pale yellow-golden in color.  There is a quarter inch of white foam that leaves very light lacing down the glass.  The aroma is very light grain and straw, and a tangy note, somewhat apple-like.  The taste is light grain and straw, that blends into the sensation of intense carbonation, and a hint of hop on the finish.  Without going head to head, this might actually be as flavorful as the regular.  Pretty darn good for a "cheap" light beer.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Castelain Blond Biere de Garde

This beer is by the brewers Benifontaine in France.  Biere de Garde is the only beer style that is indigenous to France.

This 6.2% ABV beer pours dark honey golden, with an orange hue as well.  There is a quarter inch of thick but fizzy white head.  The aroma is malty, grainy, fruity, mostly cherry, bright and crisp.  The taste is malty yet fruity, following the aroma.  It is well carbonated and drinks crisp and refreshing.  This is an excellent and enjoyable beer.

Konig Ludwig Weissbier

This is the Royal Bavarian hefeweizen wheat beer named after King Ludwig.  The Bavarian Royal Family had the sole rights to brew hefeweizen in Bavaria for 200 years.

This 5.5% ABV beer pours a light honey golden in color.  It is cloudy and has a small white head.  The aroma is light wheat malt, and lots of yeast, heavy on the banana esters.  The taste follows the aroma directly.  This is like drinking lightly sweet banana bread.

James Boag's Premium Lager

J. Boag & Son Brewery began in 1853 on the banks of the Esk River in Launceton, Tasmania, Australia.  The river is the source of the breweries water.

This 5.0% ABV beer pours a dark honey golden in color.  It is well carbonated and has a large foamy white head that leaves sticky lacing of medium density down the glass.  The aroma is grain, straw and some lager funk.  The taste is deep grain, a touch of sweetness, a touch of tartness, a touch of lager funk.  There is only a slight hop bitterness. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Marston's Brewery - Pedigree Classic English Pale Ale;

Marston's Brewery has been brewing at Burton Upon Trent, England, since 1834. It proclaims itself as the Official Ale of England, but I don't know if this title is self-imposed or not.

Fermented in old oak barrels, this 4.5% ABV beer pours a light orange-brown-copper in color with a half inch of off-white head. The aroma is pleasantly and lightly fruity (plum-like) and bready (lightly sweet and toasted). The taste follows the aroma with a touch of caramel and a touch of oak. The finish is bitter and dry. This is a nice English pale ale. The aftertaste is pleasingly malty, fruity and oaky.

Isle of Arran Brewery Blonde Ale

The Isle of Arran Brewery is in Cladach, Brodick, Isle of Arran, Scotland.

This beer pours a light copper, light orange in color with a very thin head of large, separate bubbles.  There is extensive and fine carbonation coating the sides of the glass.  The aroma is both deep malt grain and fruity at the same time.  There is cherry and a lagerish "funk" together.  The taste is fruity, cherry and raspberry, zesty, almost spicy, with some grain and light bitterness on the finish.  The mouthfeel is somewhat thin, watery and flat despite the apparent carbonation.  Not what I expected from a blonde ale, much more like a very fruity pale ale.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Robert Cain Brewery - Cains Finest Export Lager; Cains Finest Bitter; Cains Dark Mild

The Robert Cain Brewery is in Liverpool, England, since 1850.  "Liverpool in a pint."


Export Lager - This 5.0% ABV beer pours a deep and dark honey golden in color with a towering inch of pure white head that leaves lacing of medium density down the glass.  The aroma is grain, freshly harvested dry corn, a touch of straw and a slight honey fruitiness.  The taste is slightly sweet, yet still crisp, deep and rich grain, with a very tight, dry and bitter finish. This is a good European lager, and one I would love to have on draft on a warm and thirsty day.

Finest Bitter - This 4.0% ABV beer pours a light brown in color, with a touch of ruby.  It is extremely well and finely carbonated, with a small head of off-white foam.  The aroma is fairly light, roasted malt, caramel, and a touch of nuttiness.  The taste follows the aroma directly - roasted, caramel, nutty, a hint of sweet yet drinking crisp and finishing dry with just enough hops to balance the nutty maltiness on a pin head.  This beer is dangerously drinkable.  I wish I was in a pub in Liverpool right now.

Dark Mild - This is a low 3.2% ABV beer that pours black with a quarter inch of light brown foam.  This beer is also well and finely carbonated.  The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, a bit of dark chocolate.  The taste follows the aroma, but is even bigger: deep, dark, rich roasted malt, lots of black coffee, some dark chocolate.  This beer is delicious and also dangerously drinkable.  If you like Guinness, give this a try, it is just as drinkable but even more flavorful.

Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor

Mickey's is now owned by Miller Brewing (they have a ridiculously lame website).  I know someone else used to brew them, do I recall correctly that it was G. Heileman?  I also remember (early 1990's) when the small grenade shaped bottles used to have a pull-tab lid.  We called them "brain grenades."  The current caps have the Mickey's hornet on top and picture word puzzle games on the underside.

The beer pours golden in color, very clear, well carbonated. There is a decent head of white foam, that bubbles down relatively quick, but slower than many beers of this style. It leaves very light lacing. The aroma is bright, brassy, malt o’ meal and apples. The taste follows the aromas, somewhat sweet, but with a light metallic note on the end that fades into light maltiness, just a touch of wet cardboard. It is much better straight from the bottle. Not great tasting, but drinkable, and better tasting than a lot of malt liquors.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Steel Reserve 211 Malt Liquor

Steel Reserve is a malt liquor offering from Miller.  (Disclaimer: Their website is a lame and practically worthless website.  I am not even sure why they bothered, but check it out and see if you agree. The can with a freshness date of June 16, 2014 has a website address on it that isn't even active, I had to Google the actual site, which they haven't even bothered to get on the can. Dear Lord!) This malt liquor is 6.0% ABV, but I believe you can also find this in 8.1% depending on what state you live in. According to the label 211 is a medieval symbol for steel.

The beer pours a dark golden in color with a tall white head.  There is a cyclone of carbonation in the glass.  The aroma is sweet malty grain with a hint of cooked yam, apples and circus peanuts candy.  The taste is sweet grain, malt o' meal, and sweet potato/yam with apples.  I am surprised that at 6% it is so sweet, the 8.1% version must be a sweet monster.  The aftertaste is both sweet and metallic. It manages to be both thick and highly carbonated at the same, but crisp it definitely is not. This beer is in need of some hops. Very gross. No better straight from the can.

Friday, August 5, 2011

King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor

This is one of the malt liquor offerings from the Anheuser-Busch giant.  It clocks in at 6.0% ABV.  The beer pours a honey golden in color with a small white head that leaves some lacing down the glass.  The aroma is slightly sweet, fruity, tangy, a bit of apple, with some underlying sweet and toasted grain.  The taste generally follows the aroma and the beer is very carbonated, particularly for a malt liquor.  It comes to a dry and lightly grassy finish, but not really with any bitterness. There is some straw on the aftertaste. Pretty drinkable and inoffensive for a malt liquor. It tastes about the same from the glass as the bottle, which is a good sign, as most of the malt liquors are much better from the bottle (as you can't really smell them then).

2011 bottle:

Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale

This beer is from the Bierbrouwerij Koningshoeven in the Netherlands.  The picture on the bottle is probably the most bizarre on a beer bottle anywhere.

This 5% ABV beer pours dark brown and ruby with a half inch of creamy light brown head.  The aroma is fruity and slightly roasted.  The taste is slighty sweet, caramel and roasted, toasted, nut, grain malt.  This is an excellent brown ale.

Lift Bridge Beer Co. Minnesota Tan

The Lift Bridge Beer Co. is supposedly from Stillwater, Minnesota, but the bottle says brewed and bottled in Cold Springs, Minnesota.  It must be contract brewed for them by the Cold Springs Brewing company.

The bottle describes this as a "Belgian-style Tripel fermented with lingonberry.  A complex and tart beer that's wonderfully pink; reminiscent of a Minnesota Tan."  Thus its name.  The lingonberry is also know as the cowberry, a low creeping shrub of the heath family, with white or pink flowers and dark-red acid berries.

The 8.5% ABV beer pours an orange-golden in color.  The pink is a subtle tinge if actually present at all.  There is a small white head.  The aroma is tart, fruity and yeasty.  The taste follows the aroma.  It is tangy and tart without being puckering.  The finish is dry.  It is interesting, but there is something bothersome to me about it that I can't put my finger on.  Perhaps it is a bit too much like raspberry for my taste?  However, if you like tart, fruity, beers, it is worth a try.  It does mellow out a bit as it drinks, by half way through my impression of it was improved.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lightning Brewery Elemental Pilsner

The Lightning Brewery is in Poway, San Diego County, California.  Their motto is "Better Beer Through Science".

This 5.6% ABV beer pours a dark honey golden in color with a half inch of white bubbly, foamy head that leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is quite strongly fake banana.  I get a tinge of it trying to be the grain and lager funk of a German pilsner, but it is not getting there.  It is more like banana circus peanuts candy than pilsner.  The taste is much closer to the mark, some grain and lager funk, very bitter and dry on the finish, but the lingering aroma bleeds through. 

The bottle said this was brewed with German malt, German hops and Bohemian yeast in compliance with the Reinheitsgebot, Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516.  So it gave me high hopes.  But I have yet to find an American pilsner that gets anywhere near the flavor of even the most generic German lager.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

8 Wired Brewing Co. Hopwired IPA

The 8 Wired Brewing Co. is in Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand.  Their brews are contract brewed by Renaissance Brewing.


This 7.3% ABV beer pours a muddy-looking brown-orange-amber in color.  there is a quarter inch of thick and creamy off white head that leaves heavy lacing down the glass.  The aroma is spicy, a very rye/pumpernickel type maltiness, a bit yeasty, some light fruitiness, a heavy and pungent port/sherry component, and a tinge of near vomit.  The taste is all rye/pumpernickel bread with a dry and slightly bitter finish, with an aftertaste of strong cold tea with a touch of lemon. 

There is no bottling or best before date on this.  It is obviously not fresh, not surprising as it came from New Zealand all the way to end up at John's Grocery in Iowa City, Iowa.  I would love to try it fresh, according to the bottle its New Zealand hops should impart tropical fruit flavors of passion fruit, lime, and orange, and gooseberries with some grassiness.  Unfortunately, not in my bottle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sun King Brewery Osiris Pale Ale

The Sun King Brewery is in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This 5.6% ABV beer pours an orangish-amber, light copper in color with a half inch of thick and creamy off-white head that leaves thick lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hop forward, very fruity, zesty, citrusy, a touch of pine and tropical fruit.  There is also some yeast and caramel malt in the aroma.  The taste is fruity, stone fruits and citrus, on a solid malt base.  There is a dry and lightly bitter finish.  The taste also has some lemon in strong tea.  This is a tasty and delightful smooth drinking beer; a delicious American style pale ale.