Monday, December 31, 2012

Madhouse Iowa Hops IPA 2012

This 7.5% ABV beer is from the Madhouse Brewing Company of Newton, Iowa. It uses Centennial and Cascade hops which were all grown in the State of Iowa. This has a different ABV and appears to be a different beer (although the same concept) as the previous release of the Iowa Grown IPA.

The beer pours a deep copper and amber in color. There is an inch of thick and creamy off-white head. The aroma is orange, grapefruit and pine over caramel malt. The taste follows the aromas, with lots of citrus, particularly orange and grapefruit, tropical fruit, including light pineapple, pine and smooth caramel malt. There is a nice sweet grassiness on the finish. The bitterness is mild for the style, like a sweet grapefruit. This has all kinds of subtle flavors going on and is excellent!


Millstream Iowa Pale Ale

The Millstream Brewing Company is in Amana, Iowa and has been brewing since the mid-1980's. This 5.7% ABV beer pours a slightly hazy burnt orange and amber in color. There is a short, somewhat creamy head of off-white foam. The aroma is toasted malt, light caramel, lemony and grassy. The flavor is a perfect juxtaposition of toasted and caramel malts and lightly fruity and grassy bitter hops. There is some tea with lemon. It is lightly carbonated, appropriate for the style, and drinks smooth and easy. This is a great take on an English pale ale.


Batch 19

Batch 19 is a 5.5% ABV beer from Coors (I have provided a link to their website, but unfortunately their namesake website isn't working, at least not as I type this).  According to the bottle, it is actually from the "Coors Archive Brewing" company. This beer is based on a pre-Prohibition recipe found in the company's files. It was originally only available on draft in a few limited locations.  It is now being rolled out much more widely in bottles.

The beer pours clear, dark golden and amber in color. There is an inch of thick, foamy head, white to off-white. The aroma is malty, with a nice, fresh, floral, grassy, fruit note. The taste is rich golden malt, toasted, with a wonderful lightly fruity and grassy taste from the hops. It finishes nicely dry and refreshingly bitter. It is well carbonated, crisp and tingly, but not overdone. This is actually really, really good! Find it and try it. It puts the Budweiser Project 12 releases to shame (631182318591406).


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Robinsons Old Tom

This 8.5% ABV ale is from Robinsons Brewery in Stockport, Cheshire, United Kingdom. They have been brewing since 1899 and this is their flagship ale. The beer pours a mahogany dark brown and ruby. There is a short head of light brown. The aroma is caramel, roasted malt, raisins, nutty, with a tart note of dark fruits. The taste is richly malty and follows the aromas, with lots of dark caramel and dark fruits. It has a nice tingling carbonation. It has enough bitterness to never get cloying and still has a moderately dry finish. This is an excellent English ale!


New Belgium Frambozen

New Belgium Brewing is in Fort Collins, Colorado. "Frambozen" is Flemish for "raspberry" and this is a 6.5% ABV raspberry brown ale in the Belgian style. The beer pours dark brown and ruby, throwing off dark pink tones. There is a short head of nearly creamy light brown foam. The aroma is raspberry fruit, dark caramel, cherry tartness, and a light, dry oakiness.  The taste is like biting into a dark chocolate covered raspberry caramel, fruity and bittersweet. The finish is dry. Very nice and a great Christmas season beer.

Adnams Broadside

This 6.3% ABV beer is from Adnams Southwold of Suffolk, but brewed and bottled by Martsons in Burton On Trent. The beer commemorates the Battle of Sole Bay fought off the Suffolk coast in 1672 against the Dutch. The British were drinking pubs in Southwold when called to action. The beer uses only First Gold hops.

The beer pours dark, but clear, ruby and brown. There is a short head of creamy off-white foam. The aroma is malty, roasted and caramel, and spicy fruit. The taste is roasted and toasted malt, caramel, a bit of nuttiness, sweet and tangy, with a nice bracing bitterness on the finish. It drinks refreshing, lightly carbonated, smooth, with a dry finish.


Abita Turbodog

The Abita Brewing Company is in Abita Springs, Louisiana. This 5.6% ABV beer is a dark brown ale brewed with pale, caramel and chocolate malts, and Willamette hops. The beer pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with ruby tints. There is a short, creamy head that is off-white in color. The aroma is dark roasted malt, nutty, caramel, sweet, yet tangy. The taste follows the aromas, with enough hop bitterness to prevent any over-sweetness and to finish dry. A very nice and sessionable brown ale.


Abita Purple Haze

The Abita Brewing Company is in Abita Springs, Louisiana. This 4.2% ABV lager has raspberries added. The beer pours deep golden and orange with a pink haze. There is a short head of pure white foam. The aroma is toasted wheat and fresh raspberries. The taste is a nice meld of toasted lager and light, fresh raspberry. This is a well done fruit beer.


ChiTown Lake Shore Lager

This 5.5% ABV American pale lager is from the Chicago Beer Company and is brewed for them in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It is available in the greater Chicago area and I picked it up at a Trader Joe's in Chicago.

The beer pours a very dark golden and light amber in color. Darker than I expected when the bottle calls it a pale American lager. There is a short head of white foam. The aroma is malty and somewhat sweet. The taste is a clash of sweet malt and bitter grassy hops. This is poor.


Friday, December 28, 2012

C.I.B. Dethhanger Quadruple Brown Ale

The C.I.B. Brewery is a nano brewery in Carson, Iowa. The initials stand for Chefs In Black. They use wild yeasts in making their beers. This beer is 9.0% ABV. According to the bottle, "Death Rides a Chopper!"

The beer pours black in appearance with a tall head of thick cappuccino light brown foam. The aroma is dark caramel malt, figs, yeast, tart, sour, leathery and funky. The taste is earthy, funky, yeasty, leather, tart, dark caramel. It is well and finely carbonated. This is not for the faint of heart, an acquired yeasty taste.


Marston's Oyster Stout

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. This 4.5% stout is a traditional English style brewed using oyster shells. Who first thought that would be a good idea? 

The beer pours extremely dark brown, appearance of black, ruby tint if held to the light. There is nearly an inch of cappuccino light brown, creamy, foamy head. The aroma is dark roasted, toasted malt, a hint of smoke and star anise, a bit of dark cocoa and dark fruits. The taste is lightly sweet and fruity, dark roasted malt, bits of dark chocolate and some coffee. It has a nice amount of carbonation, it is moderately bitter and the finish is dry. This is a very drinkable stout.


ChiTown Pier Pale Ale

This 5.6% ABV American pale ale is from the Chicago Beer Company and is brewed for them in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It is available in the greater Chicago area and I picked it up at a Trader Joe's in Chicago.

The beer pours a dark yellow golden in color, the slightest bit hazy. There is nearly an inch of thick, white, foamy head. The aroma is citrusy and toasted. The taste is citrusy, much lemon, light toasted wheat, with a fairly bitter finish. This is very close to being very good, but falls frustratingly short. Lots of potential, not quite there.


Maisel's Weisse Original

This hefe-weiss beer is from the Maisel Brewery in Bayreuth, Germany. It is 5.2% ABV. The beer pours a bright amber and copper in color. It is well carbonated. There is a rapidly dissipating bubbly head, white to off-white in color.  The aroma is fruity, tangy yeast and toasted wheat. There are some banana and clove notes. The taste is a good balance of the aromas, fruity and estery yeast and toasted malt. The fine carbonation tingles the mouth. This is a very nice German wheat beer.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016)

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is in Chico, California. I think they are one of the best across-the-board craft breweries in the United States; they don't make many "whales," but what they make is always quality, very drinkable, and nicely representative of it's style.

2016: The beer pours a deep and dark copper and amber in color. There is about a half-inch of off-white to very light tan head. The aroma is malty, dark fruits, caramel, and pine. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same fruit and caramel malt notes, with piney hops that cut down the sweetness of the malt. The finish is a battle of dry and sweet, with moderate bitterness. The beer drinks smooth with soft carbonation. This is understated, delicious, and well-done.


 
2014 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Again 9.6% ABV, the beer was packaged on December 10, 2013 for the 2014 release. The beer pours a deep, but shiny amber in color, tints of burnt orange, turning nearly ruby red. There is a relatively short head of light beige foam. The aroma is sweet, fruity, tangy, apricots and a bit of pine. The taste is rich and luscious, very ripe, jammy fruits, getting more apricot and some caramel notes. This is followed by a wave of piney, astringent, and bitter hops, adding in grapefruit rind and pine sap. The beer drinks smooth and soft, which is a nice complement to the very high bitterness. It is not boozy, but there is a nice warming effect.  



2012 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Still 9.6% ABV, this year's beer pours a dark copper, dark amber, burnt orange in color with a half-inch of foamy, creamy head that is off-white to light brown in color. The aroma is fruity, malty, some sweetness, some bitterness, with dried apricots and jam. The taste is deep, rich, nearly burnt toast slathered with apricot and dark plum jam, with a very bitter and dry finish. There is again a definite dark cherry note as well. There is also dark caramel and strong tea with lemon. The bitter astringency on the finish is quite massive this year. I like the barleywine style when it is also heavy on the hops and not simply an overly sweet, malty alcohol bomb.

How's the 2012 drinking in 2014? I tried a 2012 bottle on June 6, 2014. The beer pours a dark amber and copper with some brick red thrown in. There is about a half inch of very light brown head. The aroma is malty, spicy, a tad funky surprisingly, and just a bit of dark stone fruit. The taste is roasted malt, some caramel, nearing sweet potato, tobacco, strong tea, strawberries, cherries, earthy, woody. Overall very good, but there are some light off-notes of band-aid and burnt plastic. While not strongly carbonated, it is well carbonated for a two year old non bottle-conditioned beer. There is some heat from the higher ABV of 9.6%. I find this pretty good two years down the line, but I like fresh Bigfoot better where you get more interplay between malt and hops.



2011 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - This 9.6% ABV beer pours a translucent and glowing, but dark, copper-orange-amber-brown. There is a half inch of off-white thick and billowy head. The aroma is sweet, caramel malt, a bit of zesty, aromatic hop and a touch of alcohol. The taste is sweet but not cloying, dark fruit like cherry, strong tea, and a massively bitter and very dry finish. I am not generally a huge fan of barley wines, but I have liked the 2010 and 2011 Bigfoots.  They are not cloyingly sweet and they finish dry and that is what allows me to like them.  The drawings on the label and six pack container are amusing.


Schell's Snowstorm 2012 Biere de Noel

This is a seasonal release from the August Schell Brewery of New Ulm, Minnesota. It uses a different recipe each year. This year it is a 7.5% ABV Biere de Noel.

The beer pours a dark chestnut brown in color. There is a short head of off-white to light brown foam. The aroma is malty, yeasty, earthy, figs, spices and dark caramel. The taste is rich and fruity, caramel and dark fruits, with a bit of clove-like spiciness and a touch of nuttiness. It is nicely carbonated and drinks easy for its big flavor and relatively high alcohol. There is a light bitterness on the finish and it is relatively dry.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Troegs Flying Mouflan

This 9.3% ABV beer is from the Troegs Brewing Company in Hershey,  Pennsylvania. It is self-described as "pushing our Nugget Nectar off the side of a cliff", tasting like hops dipped in candied sugar and rolled in dark chocolate nibs. It indicates it can be cellared.

The beer pours a deep dark amber in color, mahogany and ruby. There is a short head of light brown and creamy foam. It leaves thick rings of lacing down the glass. The aroma is full, round, and smooth, a mix of sweet and fruit. There is luscious tropical fruit, fully present, but subdued and smooth rather than tangy. There is also rich and sweet dark caramel sweetness, with a bit of chocolate and spice. The sweet tang of candied fruits is in the background. The taste follows the aromas and presents a wonderful blend of rich roasted and caramel malt, fruits and sweetness. It never becomes overly sweet and there is a countering strong bitterness on the finish, yet it never loses its smooth creaminess. There is a lot going on in this beer, and it works from beginning to end.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale

Each year around the Holidays, Trader Joe's releases their Vintage Ale.  The 2012 bottle says it is best before 7-6-2015, so this is one that is designed to be aged if one desires.  The Vintage Ales are contract brewed by Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada.

This 9.0% ABV beer is a dark Belgian-style ale brewed with spices and natural flavor added. The beer pours  black in color, with some dark ruby when held to the light. There is a huge, roiling, boiling foamy head typical of bottle conditioned beers. It is thick, yet light, like sea foam. The head snap, crackles and pops like Rice Krispies from all the carbonation coming up through it. The aroma is Christmas spices, cloves and nutmeg, an earthy and tangy yeastiness, dark caramel, and raisins. The taste follows the aromas and leaves the lingering aftertaste of spices. It is finely carbonated, tingling the mouth like champagne. There is a warming sensation from the alcohol. This one should put you in the Christmas spirit!


Founders Breakfast Stout

This 8.3% ABV double chocolate, coffee, oatmeal stout is from the Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

The beer pours as black as anthracite coal. There is a short and fairly thin head of light brown foam. The aroma is lots of cold pressed coffee and some chocolate. The taste is lots of coffee, some dark chocolate, dark roasted malt to the point of char, a touch sweet and a touch tangy, but mostly dry on the finish. There is a bitterness that matches the level of coffee flavor. The mouthfeel is smooth and substantial. This is a nice coffee stout.



Tasting the same, and still very good, in 2015:

Robinsons Ginger Old Tom

This 6.0% ABV ale is from Robinsons Brewery in Stockport, Cheshire, United Kingdom. They have been brewing since 1899 and this is their flagship ale blended with Fentiman's Ginger Ale and pear juice.

The beer pours deep brown, mahogany, tints of ruby. There is a short head of somewhat creamy off-white foam. The aroma is ginger, ginger and ginger, like the ginger slices you would find in a sushi restaurant. The taste is ginger, spicy ginger, and in the background a dark roasted and caramel malt ale. It has a tingly carbonation that complements the gentle sting of the ginger. If you like ginger, you have found your beer.


Titanic Brewery Captain Smiths British Ale

This 5.2% ABV ale is from the Titanic Brewery in Stoke-On-Trent, England, the hometown of the captain of the Titanic. The beer pours a deep amber, copper, chestnut brown in color. There is over an inch of thick and creamy off-white foam.  The aroma is toasted caramel malt, a bit of a tang and a light fruitiness. The taste is roasted and toasted malt, caramel, a touch of nut, with a deep grassy bitterness on the finish. The sweet of the malt and the bitterness of the hops tangle at the end and linger in the aftertaste. It is both carbonated and smooth in the mouth. This is a very nice English ale.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Brau Brothers Barrel Aged Belgian Style Quad Ale

This massive 11.5% ABV beer is from the Brau Brothers Brewing Company of Lucan, Minnesota. This Belgian style ale is aged in used whiskey barrels from Templeton Rye of Templeton, Iowa.

The beer pours medium to dark brown, a bit hazy, with tones of orange and ruby. There is a slight head of very light brown foam that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is whiskey, vanilla, oak, dark caramel and plums with a sour tang on the end. The taste follows the aromas, with the fruit being a combination of overripe and under ripened plums, some rich sweetness, some astringent tartness. There is wood and earthy, sour yeast, along with vanilla and light whiskey. There is mild carbonation and a light creaminess. The alcohol appears as rye whiskey, but without any burn, although it does slowly warm as the bottle progresses. 


Abita Christmas Ale

The Abita Brewing Company is in Abita Springs, Louisiana. They release a Christmas ale every year, but change the recipe each year.

The beer pours dark brown and garnet. There is a tall inch or more of head, thick, creamy and light brown. The aroma is rich and deep malt and piney hops, dark caramel and fruit. The taste follows the aromas, dark roasted caramel malt and piney hops. Taste like Christmas candy and the Christmas tree all in one. This makes for a nice Christmas ale.