Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hinterland - Pale Ale; IPA

Hinterland beers are brewed by the Green Bay Brewing Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Pale Ale - This 5.3% ABV beer pours copper-amber-orange-golden in color with a tall head of thick and creamy off-white foam.  The aroma is malty, caramel malt, somewhat yeasty, hoppy in a spicy, zesty way.  The taste is rich malt, slight touch of caramel, with a bracingly dry, astringent and bitter finish.  This is a pale ale in the best English style.

IPA- This 6.7% ABV beer pours copper in color with a quarter-inch head of off-white foam.  The aroma is malty, yeasty, light tropical fruit.  The taste follows the aroma and finishes quite bitter and dry.  If you are looking for an American West Coast IPA, this is not it, but quite good as an English-style.

Samuel Adams Tasman Red IPA

The Samuel Adams line of beers are from the Boston Brewing Company of Boston, Massachusetts. They are one of the grand daddies of the craft brewing movement and now also brew out of Cincinnati, Ohio and Breinigsville, Pennsylvania.

Tasman Red - This is a red IPA that comes in at 6.75% ABV and is made with Tasmanian hops, Topaz and Galaxy.  The beer pours ruby and garnet in color with a half-inch of thick and creamy off-white foam.  The aroma is hoppy, melon, tropical fruit, strong tea with lemon, with a touch of spicy rye and caramel.  The taste reverses the aromas and is maltier up front, deep, rich, malty, spicy rye, melon, strong tea with lemon, with an astringently bitter finish, dry, but not overpoweringly bitter.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Howe Sound Brewing Company - Devil's Elbow IPA; Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale; Rail Ale Nut Brown

The Howe Sound Brewing Company is in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Devil's Elbow IPA - This is a 6% ABV beer that is dry-hopped.  The beer pours a copper-amber-burnt orange in color, somewhat hazy.  There is a quarter-inch of creamy off-white foam that leaves layers of lacing down the glass.  The aroma is floral, grassy and tangy, with a touch of yeast.  The taste is unique, like grassy oatmeal with a floral aftertaste.  This is a strange blend of malt and hops.  The finish is quite dry and bitter. 

Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale -  This 5.0% ABV beer pours a slightly hazy dark golden in color with a short head of pure white foam.  The aroma is strong grain, the sweet floralness of honey and a light tart note.  The taste follows the aroma directly.  This is a solid beer, not a standout in any way, but no negatives and nice to drink.

Rail Ale Nut Brown - This 5.0% ABV beer pours a very, very dark brown in appearance, almost black.  There is a quarter-inch of light brown head.  The aroma is roasted and toasted malt, nutty, hazelnuts, a bit of a sour note in the back.  The taste is dark roasted malt, nutty, a touch of coffee, slightly sweet; the taste is even better than the aroma.  A very dark brown ale, both in appearance and dark roasted taste.  Good.

Yeastie Boys Digital IPA

This beer is brewed and bottled by the Yeastie Boys at Invercargill Brewery in Invercargill, New Zealand.  Brewed with New Zealand's own Nelson hops.

The beer pours a hazy, yet glowing, orange and dark golden in color.  There is almost no head.  The aroma is very fruity, both hops and yeast, massive, thick and sticky with melons and tropical fruit.  The taste is massive, fruity, hoppy, malty, yeasty, redolent and thick, tons of the melon and tropical fruit with a spicy note and perfectly bitter finish.  This is a good beer worth repeating.

Anchor Small Beer

The Anchor Brewing Company is in San Francisco, California and is one of the "grandfathers" of the American craft beer movement.  The brewery originated in 1849, but was revived after a controlling interest was purchased by Fritz Maytag in 1965.
This beer is part of an old tradition, revived here, of making a second, weaker beer from the mash of a first, stronger beer.  After the first beer is brewed, the mash is "sparged" (the spraying of fresh brewing water onto the mash) again.  Here Anchor uses the mash from its Old Foghorn barley wine to make this "small" brew.  It is a true session beer at only 3.3% ABV. 
The beer pours a dark orange-golden in color.  There is ample carbonation and a half-inch head of pure white foam that leaves a medium density of sticky lacing down the glass.  The aroma is slightly sweet, grassy, floral, with a light and zesty fruitiness.  The taste is malty grain and grassy bitterness.  The beer tastes lightly like whiskey mash with a crisply bitter finish.  This is an interesting, enjoyable and darn tasty beer.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Surly Darkness Russian Imperial Stout 2011

The Surly Brewing Company is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and currently only distributes itself in the greater Twin Cities area. It is fair to say that Surly is one of the most talked about and coveted brewers at the current time. Their beers are consistently delicious and flavorful. They will soon be opening a destination brewery in Minneapolis.

This is the 2011 Darkness, an annual release from Surly of their Russian Imperial Stout.  The beer pours very dark black, like used motor oil.  There is a massive, thick, billowing head of dark brown foam.  The aroma is dark roasted malt, very chocolaty, some coffee, dark chocolate.  The taste is massively sweet, dark coffee, very dark chocolate.  The sweetness and the bitterness combine on the finish to make a tart note.  The finish is both very sweet and dry and bitter at the same time.

Love the zombie on the bottle.

From the website:
This massive Russian Imperial Stout brings waves of flavors; chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee, and toffee. We add a touch of hops to make this delicious brew even tastier.
STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout/American Double Stout

MALT: Pale Ale, Golden Promise, Crystal, Dark Crystal, Oats, Black, Chocolate, Roast

SUGAR: Belgian Dark Candi Sugar

HOPS: Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe

YEAST: English Ale
OG: 29° Plato

ABV: 9.8 % v/v


IBU: 85


Odell Brewing Company Friek

The Odell Brewing Company is in Fort Collins, Colorado. Odell is one of my favorite breweries. They make consistently high quality and tasty beers.
This is Odell's combination of a Belgian kriek (cherry) beer and a framboises (raspberry) beer.  The beer ages in oak barrels with cherries and raspberries.  It is 6.5% ABV.  The beer pours dark pinkish in color, tinge of brown, with champagne-like carbonation and a champagne-like head of white fizzy foam.  The aroma is tart and fruity, large on cherries, light on raspberry, and oaky.  The taste is tart cherry, cherry, oaky wood, a touch of earthiness, hint of raspberries.  There is loads of fine, champagne-like carbonation.  The finish is both tart and dry.  This is a delicious interpretation of a kriek.
Odell basically never disappoints, and this is a great representation of its style.

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

Leinenkugel's Brewing Company is from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  They were independent but the brand is now owned by Miller (Molson Coors).

This is the 2011 vintage.  It is 9.5% ABV and made with 11 malts and grains and three hop varieties.  The beer pours jet black with a massive, thick head of dark brown foam.  The aroma is very dark roasted malt, dark cocoa, sweet and creamy.  The taste is very dark roasted malt, strong dark coffee, sweet, but with a tartness on the end.  The finish is very dry and fairly bitter.  It has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.  This is a very intense stout. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Surly Brewing Company Five

The Surly Brewing Company is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and currently only distributes itself in the greater Twin Cities area. It is fair to say that Surly is one of the most talked about and coveted brewers at the current time. Their beers are consistently delicious and flavorful.
Five is their fifth anniversary special release brew.  It is a dark sour ale aged in wine barrels.  The beer pours black in appearance, very dark brown with ruby tints on the edges when held to a light.  There is a short and thin head of medium brown foam.  The aroma is tart, sour cherries with a background of dark roasted malt.  The taste is a deep and tart cherry, earthy richness, oaky woodiness.  The finish is dry with a light bitterness at the end of the cherry tartness.  This is like a delicious Belgian kriek.  This is a great beer, too many over-do the sour in a beer like this, but the tartness here is well-balanced on a richness of other flavors.  Another win by Surly.
From the website and bottle:
In the Surly brewhouse, brewing our Anniversary beers means one thing: forget what ya know and try something different. In honor of FIVE glorious years, we bring you a 100% Brettanomyces-fermented Dark Ale, aged in red wine barrels. Flavors of sour cherry, tobacco, oak and classic “Brett” barnyard funk, balanced by Dark Munich malt chewiness. Enjoy immediately or age at cellar temperature for a couple years. 100% Brettanomyces-fermented Dark Ale aged in red wine barrels.
Five has strong flavors of earthy black cherry and raisins with a sour finish.
STYLE: Brett Dark Ale

MALT: German Dark Munich and Carafa III

HOPS: Willamette

YEAST: Brettanomyces anomalus and Clausenii

ABV: 7.5% v/v

IBU: 14

Nero's - Appechio Red Ale; 1st Century Double Dark Malt Ale

The Nero beers are brewed by Birra Amarcord in Appechio, Italy.  These beers are sold at Trader Joe's.

Appechio Red Ale - This 6.5% ABV beer pours a reddish copper in color with a half-inch of off-white to light brown foam.  The aroma is malty, caramel sweet, with a touch of dark fruit.  The taste is malty, caramel, fruit notes, smooth mouthfeel, a very nice and drinkable red ale, whose only fault is a slight off-note in the aftertaste, where the caramel takes on a burnt note.  Overall good, especially for its price point.

1st Century Double Dark Malt Ale - This 8.0% ABV beer pours a dark reddish copper in color.  There is a half-inch of off-white creamy and foamy head.  The aroma is malty, caramel and toffee sweetness, with a slight tart dark fruit note.  This is quite similar to the red ale so far.  The taste follows the aroma.  This is just a higher alcohol version of the red ale, slightly heavier in body and taste as well.

Peace Tree Brewing Company Black River Gumbo Ale

The Peace Tree Brewing Company is in Knoxville, Iowa.

This beer pours a very deep, dark black in color.  There is a short head of medium brown foam.  The aroma is an interesting combination of deep, dark, almost smokey malt, along with a fruity tart note.  The taste follows the aroma exactly, very dark roasted malt, coffee, a touch of smokiness, and then a tart and tangy fruitiness.  The finish is bitter and dry.  An interesting beer, very flavorful.
From the bottle:  This dark deliciousness is named after the gumbo dirt of the Des Moines River bottom which nourished our Peace Tree and is now used as the surface for Knoxville’s famous Sprint Car track. Instead of using traditional ale yeast required of a stout, a Belgian yeast was used to add complexity. This stout is brewed with high quality pale malt, three roasted malts and two caramel malts. The dark roasted caramel malts contribute to the chocolate and toffee characteristics. Three varieties of hops contribute to the bitterness and aromas of this beer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

3 Monts - Classic Golden Ale; Grande Reserve Amber Ale Sur Lie

The 3 Monts beers are brewed by the Brasserie De Saint Sylvestre of Cappel, France.  This is in the Flanders region where northern France and Belgium meet.  This region was the scene of years of fierce fighting between the British and Germans in World War One.  These beers are corked, with the cork crimped tightly in place by a metal bar.  Not sure a beer should require tools to open.

3 Monts Classic Golden Ale - This 8.5% ABV beer pours a dark yellow golden in color with a tall half-inch of sparkling white foamy head.  The aroma is malty grain, slightly sweet, slightly tart, citrus fruits, herbal, earthy and leather notes.  The taste is follows the aroma with ample malt followed by the various other notes in the aroma.  There is enough hops to provide a crisply dry and moderately bitter finish.  There is a lot going on in this golden ale and it is very good.

3 Monts Grande Reserve Amber Ale Sur Lie - This 8.3% ABV beer pours amber in color, crystal clear, with a half-inch of white to off-white foamy head.  The aroma is malty, sweet caramel, herbal, light root beer note.  The taste is a deep, rich, caramel maltiness, slightly sweet, but balanced by the bitter herbal notes, with the light root beer also showing up in the taste.  There is a touch of leather.  This is a very nice beer.

North Coast Brewing Company Blue Star Wheat Beer

The North Coast Brewing Company is in Fort Bragg, California.

This 4.5% ABV beer pours a hazy dark yellow golden in color with a half inch of pure white foam.  The aroma is wheat malt, yeast, light lemony citrus. The taste is malty, floral and fruity, with lemon and light tropical fruit.  This is an easy drinking and tasty wheat beer.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Chimay is brewed in Baileux, Belgium.  It is a line of Trappist beers, which requires that it be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery.  Chimay has been brewing since 1862.

Chimay Peres Trappistes Ale - This 7.0% ABV beer is the Chimay that comes in the red bottle.  It pours a reddish-light brown in color, lots of large bubbled carbonation, and a head of very light brown foam that rapidly "pops" away.  The aroma is caramel malt, herbal, spicy, and grassy, along with earthy tones.  The taste is rich and creamy caramel, with a lighter note of dark fruits, and some herbal notes, earth and leather.  The mouthfeel is well-carbonated without being fizzy.  Absolutely delicious.

Chimay Peres Trappistes Grande Reserve Ale - This 9.0% ABV beer pours medium brown in color with copper-orange tints.  There is a large head of very light brown and bubbly foam.  The aroma is malty, caramel, earth, leather, with some dark fruits.  The taste is deep rich dark roasted malt, dark caramel, old leather, with a very dry finish.  This is also an excellent and deep flavored beer.

Spaten Munchen Dunkel

From the Spaten Brewery in Munich, Germany. 

This beer pours a medium brown and reddish in color.  There is a small head of off-white foam.  The aroma is malted grain, roasted malt, a touch of caramel and nuttiness.  It has the aroma of a German lager, just more roasted malt, not surprisingly as it is a dunkel (Dunkel means "dark" in German, and is a dark lager that is more malt forward in its flavor profile).  The taste is roasted, toasted and nutty malt, touch of caramel, and just enough bitterness so as not to finish sweet, but rather crisply dry.  A very sessionable beer.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Troubadour Magma Special Edition 2011 Cascade Hops

This 9.0% ABV Belgian Triple IPA is brewed and bottled by Br. The Musketeers in Ursel, Belgium.  Picked up at Beer Crazy in Urbandale, Iowa.

The beer pours a hazy orange and amber in color.  There is a tall inch of thick, creamy, and foamy head that is off-white in color.  Sedimentary layers of sticky lacing are left on the glass.  The aroma is hoppy, grassy, floral, and herbal.  The taste is grainy malt with a very hoppy component that follows the aroma, lots of grass and flowers.  The finish is moderately bitter and is bracingly and lip puckeringly dry, reminiscent of a desert.  However, taken as a whole, this beer is delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Natty Daddy

The newest addition to the Natural (Light and Ice) family from Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis, Missouri.

This 8.0% ABV beer pours golden in color with a quarter inch of white foamy head.  The aroma is very sweet grain, almost candy-like, and a touch of grassiness.  The taste is also sweet grain, veering towards very sweet, but with just enough hops on the end to prevent it from being cloying.  It is well-carbonated and stings the mouth. 

Somehow it doesn't seem very coincidental to me that Anheuser-Busch rolls out this higher alcohol Natural product around the same time as its higher alcohol Bud Light (Platinum).  Their taste is somewhat similar, this having the extra 2% ABV worth of sweetness in its flavor.

2017: Why, oh why, am I subjecting myself to this again? The beer pours a very clear golden. There is a half-inch of white foam that fizzes away very quickly. The aroma is sweet, green apples, cooked mixed vegetables, and those old circus peanuts candy. The taste follows the aromas, a horrific, nightmare of bad flavors mixed together. The beer drinks with an implied syrupy note, cloyingly sweet. This beer needs massive bittering hops badly to cut its sweetness, but then it would cost more, so forget it. If you wish to become ill, this is a good place to start. 

Bud Light Platinum

The latest beer from Anheuser-Busch, now owned by the Belgian In-Bev.

Bud Light Platinum is 6.0% ABV (very high for a "light" beer), has 137 calories in a 12 ounce bottle.  The beer pours a very pale yellow-golden in color, crystal clear and well carbonated.  There is a quarter inch of white foamy head that dissipates quite rapidly.  The aroma is sweet and fruity grain, like malt-o-meal with fruit syrup.  There is a touch of grassy hops.  The taste is sweet, light malty grain, a touch of fruit and grass.  There is an almost taffy-like aftertaste.  This is not something I would seek out.  If I was going for the zone this beer sits in, I would rather split the difference and have Old Milwaukee ("lighter") or Olde English 800 (high alcohol with less sweetness and better flavor).

I am very curious to see how this beer does, whether it finds a market.  A relatively high calorie and high alcohol "light" beer is an odd duck.  I saw one person speculate it was crafted to try and bring back some of those who have fled mass-produced beers for spirits.  They might be on to something.  The bottle is blue, like Skyy Vodka.  It's called "Platinum."  It has relatively high alcohol.  It says the beer is triple filtered, again something that you would generally see on a vodka bottle, not a beer bottle.  The website says it has "top shelf" taste, again a spirits term.  Its sweetness might appeal to a female demographic.  It's Bud Light name and high alcohol might appeal to a male demographic.  It may flop.  I wanted to try this quick, it seems just as likely to go the way of New Coke as to become long-standing.  If you look at the website, they are obviously trying to appeal to a demographic of "cool" people in their 20's.