Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale

This is a 6.0% ABV American Pale Ale brewed with rye from Bell's Brewing Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan. There are a lot of beers coming out taking lighter styles and putting in some rye to kick them up a notch. Many of the ones I have tried have been quite good.

The beer pours a cloudy dark orange and amber in color. There is a tall inch of white to off-white foamy head. The aroma is hoppy, with light pine and citrus, tea with lemon, and an earthy, spicy toasted rye note. The taste is toasted rye bread, tea with lemon, light pine, grapefruit rind, and citrus with a bitter and astringent grapefruit finish. It drinks light to medium bodied, but full of flavor, with a bitter finish, and an aftertaste of toasted rye and grapefruit. You definitely want to try this.




2017:  The beer pours a hazy honey and amber in color. There is a thick, almost creamy, head of off-white. The aroma is toasted grain, floral, lightly fruity. The taste follows the aromas, rich toasted grain, floral, with a spice of rye and light fruit. The finish is fairly bitter. The beer drinks very creamy and smooth. 


Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL

The beers of Samuel Adams are from the Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This 5.0% ABV beer combines a lager with West coast hops.  I am assuming IPL means India Pale Lager. It says it is part of the Hopology collection, but I don't know what that is and don't find it on their website.

The beer pours a crystal clear amber and copper in color. There is a half-inch head of off-white foam. The aroma is nicely hop forward, pine, citrus, funky, pummelo, grapefruit rind, some cantaloupe and very light tropical fruit. The taste is the hop flavors on a toasted amber lager, with a piney and grapefruit rind finish. The bitterness is mild, the finish is crisp, the body is light. There seems to be a trend toward hopped up lagers, and I for one like it. This is a tasty and very drinkable hoppy lager.


Samuel Adams White Lantern

The beers of Samuel Adams are from the Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This 5.5% ABV Belgian-style white ale is brewed with orange and tangerine peel, coriander and Grains of Paradise. The beer pours a hazy dark golden and orange in color. There is nearly an inch of white foam that rapidly dissipates. The aroma is spices, the coriander upfront and trading nicely off the tangerine, with some toasted wheat underneath. The taste is a nice toasted wheat, just a touch nutty, with the spices, tangerine first and then coriander being the most evident. It is nicely carbonated, pleasantly stinging the mouth, with a medium body that is just right. If you like white ales, this one is worth a try.





Saturday, February 23, 2013

Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale

This 9.8% ABV beer is from the Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is brewed with molasses and lots of malt and then aged on oak. It has 50 IBU's.

The beer pours a deep copper and burnt orange. It is somewhat hazy/cloudy. There is a very short and thin off-white head. The aroma is deep malt, sweet potato, molasses, dark caramel, and oaky wood. The taste follows the aromas, adding a deep fruity note that is both sweet and tart, strawberry jam on top of all that malt. The finish is dry, bitter and woody, throwing off some vanilla notes. The alcohol starts to warm the throat as the beer progresses. Oh, this is nice, nice, nice.



Trying a 2012 bottle in 2014, just over two years old: The beer begins much the same, the aroma is even more woody, lots of malt turning into fruit still, but it is now spicy, a bit hot with alcohol. The taste has mellowed greatly, the aroma is much "hotter" than the taste. This now drinks very mild and smooth, but still with great flavors.

Adnams Explorer

This 5.0% ABV blonde beer is from Adnams Southwold Brewery of Suffolk, England. It uses English malts and American hops. The beer pours a very deep golden in color, with a touch of haze. There is a thick and long-lasting head of white foam. The aroma is mild, toasted grain with lots of lemon, tart, with grassy and bitter hops. The taste is toasted grain, very lemony, with a grapefruit rind astringent bitterness. The finish is bitter and it is nicely carbonated in the mouth. This is refreshing and would make a good summer drinker. 


Adnams Southwold Bitter

This 4.1% ABV beer is from Adnams Southwold of Suffolk, but brewed and bottled by Martsons in Burton On Trent. Per the bottle: "Southwold Jack is one of Adnams' oldest & most loyal figureheads, that's why we've chosen him to be the icon for one of our most famous beers. Local legend has it he was once a young soldier from the Wars of the Roses and today he sits on the wall of our brewery guarding us from harm." Jack is also known as Smiter Jack (I do like that). There is a Jack statue in the brewery and also one in a local church, known as a Clock Jack, as he strikes the hours on his bell with his axe.

The beer pours chestnut brown and amber in color, very clear. It is well carbonated. There is nearly an inch of off-white head, thick and creamy. The aroma is caramel, nutty, hazelnut, a bit of a grassy tang, with some bitterness. The taste is caramel, nutty, toasted malt, tea, biscuits, lightly fruity like plum jam, herbal, with a fairly bitter finish. It drinks easy, the carbonation is noticeable, but mild in the mouth, with some creaminess from the head. The aftertaste is primarily bitter, but also reminiscent of the flavors. There is quite a bit going on with this bitter; definitely worth a try.




I liked my revisit in 2015: The beer pours a deep amber in color. There is nearly an inch of foamy head, very light tan. The aroma is malty, caramel, toffee, with plum and lemon. The taste follows the aromas, very malty, with loads of caramel and toffee, followed by lighter fruit notes, coming to a dry and lightly bitter end. The beer drinks very soft and smooth, with extremely light carbonation. This is a nice pub sipper.



Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale

This is a 5.7% ABV spring seasonal farmhouse style provision ale from the Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas, maker of Shiner beers. It takes its name from the number of the farm to market road that is just south of the brewery.

The beer pours honey golden with a touch of haze. It is dark enough to throw a tinge of orange. There is a short, thin head of white foam. The aroma is spicy, herbal, and very floral with lots of marigolds. The taste is very floral, yeast and spices, lots of marigold, just like the aroma, with a touch of honey sweetness in the background. It has a nice burning carbonation. You are going to love this one or hate, but I don't see much middle ground here.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Backpocket Wooden Nickel

This beer is 5.7% ABV and is described as a peated bock Scottish style lager. It comes from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  They generally adhere to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law, using only water, barley,hops and yeast. Their nickel on the label is inscribed with "In Hop We Trust."

The beer pours mahogany in color, with an almost (but not quite) ruby tint. There is a half inch of thick and creamy off-white to light brown foam. The aroma is very dark roasted malt, nutty, tangy, almost smokey, it has some stout-like characteristics. The taste is peaty, smokey, dark roasted malt, nutty, hazelnut, light mocha and dark chocolate, rich, then tangy, then dry. It is nicely carbonated, easy to drink, yet full in the mouth, lots of flavor. Worth more than a wooden nickel, it is actually amazing.


Backpocket Slingshot Dunkel

This dunkel, or German style dark lager, comes from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  They generally adhere to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law, using only water, barley,hops and yeast. This beer is 5.3% ABV.

It pours a dark chestnut brown in color. There is a tall half inch of thick foamy head, somewhat creamy. The head is off-white to very light brown in color. The aroma is toasted malt, dark caramel, with a spicy rye-like note. The taste is toasted and roasted malt, getting almost peaty, nutty, dark caramel, getting close to molasses, starting sweet, but quickly turning dry. There is some strong tea and light tobacco. For all the flavors, it actually drinks easy and comparatively light. If you like dunkel beers, this is a must try.



Backpocket Pennywhistle Wheat

This Bavarian style wheat ale is 5.5% ABV and comes from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  They generally adhere to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law, using only water, barley,hops and yeast.

This beer pours a toasted dark honey golden and light amber in color. There is a very large head, appropriate for the style, that is white, thickly foamy and fizzy. It is very highly carbonated, with bubbles rising to the top rapidly and in large quantities, filling the head with large air gaps. The aroma is lots of toasted wheat, light herbs including cloves, grassy and lemony. The taste follows the aromas, primarily toasted wheat, but also several herbal notes, including cloves and a light sarsaparilla effect. This is nicely balanced, the yeast notes are very present, but don't overtake everything else.  I'm not a big fan of the banana notes in many weiss beers, and am glad they are not here. It is highly carbonated and pleasantly stings the mouth and throat. This beer is worth repeating.



Backpocket Gold Coin Helles

This blonde German style lager is 5.2% ABV and comes from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  They generally adhere to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law, using only water, barley,hops and yeast.

This beer pours dark yellow, straw and golden in color. There is an inch or so of white head. The aroma is slightly sweet golden grain, straw, a bit of grassy herbs. The taste follows the aromas, mostly semi-sweet grains, with just a light touch of straw and very light hop finish. It drinks like a macro lager, but much better, as it actually has some flavor.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stillwater Beer Table Table Beer

Stillwater Artisanal Ales is based in Baltimore, Maryland. It appears that they are gypsy or contract brewed, as this bottle was brewed and bottled by Westbrook Brewing Company of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. This beer is 4.7% ABV. The beer pours a very dark yellow golden in color. It is fully carbonated, the bubbles rapidly releasing to the top. There is a tall head of white foam that starts thick and pops into sticky and ragged. The aroma is very funky, lots of geranium and marigold, some tangy and tart. The taste is highly floral, geraniums and marigolds, funky, some lemony tartness, a bit of grain, quite bitter and dry. It has a fine and tingling carbonation. This is like drinking liquid flowers.



Royal Challenge Premium Lager

This is a 5.0% ABV export lager made by Skol Breweries in India. It is imported by Jom Wine & Spirits. The bottle talks the beer up: "Extra Time - Extra Smooth," "Taste the Difference Extra Time Makes," and "Brewed Longer - Brewed Better."  We'll see about that.

The beer pours a dark yellow golden, well-carbonated. There is an inch of pure white head that dissipates at a moderate pace. The aroma is semi-sweet, grain, corn, a slight tang and a light touch of bubble gum. The taste is smooth, a touch of creaminess, grain, corn and light straw. There is a light tang of galvanized metal on the finish. Not great, but  a pretty good export lager, and nicely drinkable. It would  make a great accompaniment to a spicy Indian dish and I would drink this again.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Evil Twin Yin and Yang

Evil Twin Brewing has its origins in Denmark, but its beers are actually brewed at ten different breweries around the world. These beers are each 10.0% ABV and brewed at Brew Dog, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Yin is an Imperial Taiji Stout and Yang is an Imperial Taiji IPA. I will try each individually and then mix them in a black and tan, as suggested by the bottles.

Yang pours a cloudy deep amber and burnt orange. There is a slight off-white head. The aroma is strong orange, citrus, over ripe tropical fruit, sweet, tangy, malty, caramel. The taste is both strong hops and strong malt, lots of orange, sweet potato maltiness, caramel, sweet and tangy fruit playing off of each other. There is some warming effect from the high alcohol. Intense, a sipper.



Yin pours black, with a large head of dark latte colored foam. The aroma is sweet and charred, lots of dark roasted malt, coffee and mocha and dark chocolate, bittersweet. The taste follows the aromas, charred malt, peat, loads of dark chocolate, coffee, creamy mocha, sweet and bitter tangling with each other. There is also a warming effect in this one from the alcohol. This is a very nice stout on its own.



Yin and Yang Black and Tan - Well, I poured the IPA first and then poured the stout slowly over an inverted round spoon, but the stout did not float and just immediately sank into the IPA. It is black in color with the head looking like marbled rye bread. The aroma is predominantly the IPA, lots of that orange coming out, sweet, yet tangy and bitter. When drinking them, the IPA comes out first, again lots of orange, a tangle of sweet, tangy and bitter, and just when you think the IPA totally predominated, in comes a wave of dark roasted malt, leaving an essence of a candied orange covered in rich mocha dark chocolate. In the aftertaste the sweet, tangy and bitter again fight each other. It is full and rich and loaded with flavor.


Taiji (or T'ai chi) is understood to be the highest conceivable principle, that from which existence flows. The "supreme ultimate" creates yang and yin: movement generates yang; when its activity reaches its limit, it becomes tranquil. Through tranquility the supreme ultimate generates yin. When tranquility has reached its limit, there is a return to movement. Movement and tranquility, in alternation, become each the source of the other. The distinction between the yin and yang is determined and the two forms (that is, the yin and yang) stand revealed. By the transformations of the yang and the union of the yin, the 5 elements (Qi) of water, fire, wood, metal and earth are produced. These 5 Qi become diffused, which creates harmony. Once there is harmony the 4 seasons can occur. Yin and yang produced all things, and these in their turn produce and reproduce, this makes these processes never ending. 

Third Shift Amber Lager

This 5.3% ABV amber lager is from Band of Brewers Third Shift. (This is actually a MillerCoors brand.) It won a gold medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

The beer pours a bright amber in color. It is well carbonated and has a short, thin white head. The aroma is sweet, light caramel, light roasted malt, a touch of spice and a bright note. The taste is light roasted malt, light caramel, some bitterness, and an unpleasant burnt toast/wet cardboard note. It has a nice tingling carbonation. This is mediocre verging on unpleasant. I don't see myself ever having another one.


Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler

Leinenkugel's Brewing Company is from  Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  They began brewing in 1867. Leinenkugel's has been owned by Miller for some time now (who is now owned by MolsonCoors). This seasonal release is a kolsch-style beer brewed with rye. I have noticed a recent trend of American lager/kolsch/goldens being brewed with some rye to boost the flavor and complexity.

The beer pours yellow and golden with lots of carbonation. There is a very tall head of white foam, somewhat fizzy, somewhat thick. The aroma is golden grain, straw, grassy, and spicy. The taste follows the aromas directly, with a touch of lemon zest (no sourness). It has a crisp and tingling carbonation in the mouth, moderately bitter and spicy in the finish. It drinks refreshing. I don't know why that don't just make all macro beers taste like this instead of flavorless swill. This reminds me of their old Northwoods (aka Limited Golden) Lager.




Friday, February 15, 2013

Beer Here Dark Hops

Beer Here is from Denmark, but this bottle indicates is was brewed at DeProef, LochristiBelgium. According to the bottle, "Hops were harmed in the production of this beer." This is a 8.5% ABV dark hoppy ale. The label is basically Men in Black with hop heads.


The beer pours black in color, with some very dark ruby and garnet if held to the light. There is a very tall head of thick, creamy, foamy head that is light brown in color. The aroma is fruity and creamy, lots of orange, very dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate. The taste is an immaculate melding of fruit and dark roasted flavors, orange, coffee, dark chocolate, both sweet and bitter. The finish is quite bitter and very dry. The mouthfeel is very smooth. Exquisitely balanced, this beer is transcendentally good. This is a must try!





Beer Here Kama Citra

Beer Here is from Denmark, but this bottle indicates is was brewed at DeProef, Lochristi, Belgium. It is 7.0% ABV and the bottle describes it as the “love child of British specialty malts and American Citra hops”. The beer pours the darkest of browns, essentially black in color. There is over an inch of thick, foamy, creamy had that is off-white to very light brown in color. The aroma is fruity, lots of orange, light melon and tropical fruit, spicy, over a body of dark roasted malt. The taste is a very nice melding of tangy orange and sweet tropical fruit with dark roasted malt with dark cocoa and coffee. Many black IPA’s go too far in one direction or the other, this is a very good one. Highly recommended.


Carta Blanca

This beer is from the Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc, Moctezuma of Monterrey, Mexico. It has an old-fashioned fairly “plain” label that I think is classically elegant. It appeals to me.

The beer pours yellow and golden. It is well carbonated. There is an inch of pure white head that dissipates fairly rapidly, but has some stickiness to it. The aroma is corn, slightly sweet, some dusty straw, a touch of cardboard or overcooked vegetable. The taste is corn, sweet, just a touch of bitterness, with a strange petroleum note in the background. I have not had a Carta Blanca in a long time. While it never had strong flavor, it used to be a nice easy drinker. I don’t know if this bottle is off or what, but that petroleum background note is nasty.


Pretty Things X Ale November 22, 1838

The Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based out of Somerville, Massachusetts.  They are a tenant brewer, not owning their own brewery, but renting others' brewing equipment.  This 7.4% ABV beer is part of their Once Upon a Time Beers From History series based on old recipes that have been rediscovered and recreated. This is the twin to the February 22, 1945 X Ale.  They are both a mild ale originating from the same brewery, but the recipe changed over the years greatly.

According to the bottle: Mild was a hugely popular style for more than a century (1800-1900's). Here, we have released two Mild ales side-by-side; two beers from opposite ends of that period, brewed by the same brewery. If you drink both, you will drink the same brand from the same brewery, separated by 107 years. Over those years, Mild changed considerably; something these beers amply demonstrate. Though bearing the same name, X Ale, in character they could hardly be more dissimilar. The 1830's saw the beginning of a boom in Mild ale brewing, which in 30 years became England's favourite beer. This beer, 1838 X Ale is a typical London Mild of the era: bigger and more robustly hopped than modern versions. Brewed from 100% pale malt and Kent hops, this is a straightforward, uncomplicated beer, much like the working classes who first drank it. The colour is also much paler than you might expect. From this original form, Mild was to undergo many transformations, culminating in the second beer in this series, February 22nd, 1945. Drink them side-by-side to compare how the beer style evolved. - Ron Pattinson.

The beer pours a cloudy dark yellow and golden. There is a tall half-inch head of white foam. The aroma is tangy, grassy, floral, over grain. The taste is grain, a surprising smokey and peaty note, tangy, grassy and fairly bitter. There is a long, lingering bitter aftertaste. This beer is interesting, but for enjoyment I would drink the 1945.  The 1945 is completely recognizable to the modern drinker, this is fairly unusual, but it is interesting to drink a time capsule, so to speak.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pretty Things X Ale February 22, 1945

The Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based out of Somerville, Massachusetts.  They are a tenant brewer, not owning their own brewery, but renting others' brewing equipment.  This 2.8% ABV beer is part of their Once Upon a Time Beers From History series based on old recipes that have been rediscovered and recreated. This is the twin to the November 22, 1838 X Ale.  They are both a mild ale originating from the same brewery, but the recipe changed over the years greatly.

According to the bottle: Mild was a hugely popular style for more than a century (1800-1900's). Here, we have released two Mild ales side-by-side; two beers from opposite ends of that period, brewed by the same brewery. If you drink both, you will drink the same brand from the same brewery, separated by 107 years. Over those years, Mild changed considerably; something these beers amply demonstrate. Though bearing the same name, X Ale, in character they could hardly be more dissimilar. By WWII, Mild was firmly established as Britain's most popular style of beer, but the years had not been kind. The war years in particular had taken their toll on Mild, reducing its alcohol content. There had been other changes too. For example, the colour. 1945 X Ale was much darker, brewed from a blend of 5 malts and dark brewing sugar. Wartime shortages also dictated the use of flaked barley. this 1945 Mild contained just a fifth of the hops of 1838 version. This is Mild as we know it today, a low-gravity, lightly-hopped, dark beer. Drink the two side-by-side to see these changes in action. -Ron Pattinson.

The beer pours a medium chestnut brown, with amber and orange. There is an inch of thick off-white foam that leaves layers of very sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma is toasted and nutty, sweet, burnt caramel, light hazelnut. The taste is quite roasted malt, toasted, nutty, light hazelnut, with a pleasing light bitterness that counters the underlying sweetness. There is a nice, even carbonation, light mouthfeel, but very flavorful for its light body and alcohol. This is really good! Tomorrow I will try the 1838 version.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Widmer Brothers Old Embalmer '12

Widmer Brothers is from Portland, Oregon. This is a 10.2% ABV barleywine ale that features Bravo hops that are to give earthy and floral qualities.  According to the bottle this is good right away, but also cellerable.  This one was bottled on July 18, 2012. This beer was first brewed in 1999. Old Embalmer '12 is 75 IBU's and also features Alchemy hops.

The beer pours a deep amber, nearing dark chestnut in color with a tinge of orange. There is an inch of thick off-white to light brown foam, with a touch of creaminess to it. The aroma is hop forward, with a wave of orange and citrus, then mellowing into fresh, grassy and floral, on a solid base of caramel malt. The taste is sweet caramel malt, tangy citrus, lots of orange, candied orange, grassy, somewhat floral, with a moderately bitter finish that offsets the overall sweetness of the malt and alcohol. While the high alcohol is not out front, there is a noticeable warming effect in the mouth and throat, almost spicy. It has a nice body, not too light, not too heavy, considering its big flavor and alcohol. There is a warm, lingering aftertaste, deep and fruity, with lots of orange. This is an extremely nice barleywine.