Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest and 2015 Brauhaus Riegele Collaboration

This 6.2% ABV beer is Sierra Nevada Brewing's take on the Oktoberfest style.  It came in their fall sampler pack. They have breweries in both Chico, California and now Mills River, North Carolina. 

The beer pours a deep, yet clear, amber in color. It has an inch of thick and creamy tan head. The aroma is nutty, grassy, a touch of celery, toasted grain, with some dark caramel. The taste follows the aromas, deep, toasted and caramelly malts, with a grassy bitterness to bring a dry finish, and that celery note again. It drinks creamy and smooth, but also with a refreshing carbonation. I’m glad I have another one of these, because I am not sure what to think of it yet. (So, tried it again, great maltiness and mouthfeel, just a bit too bitter for the style).
 

Tried again in 2015 and liking it even more (new look on the label as well, this year with 6.0% ABV, and brewed this year in collaboration with Brauhaus Riegele of Augusburg, Germany): The beer pours a dark golden to light amber in color. There is a relatively short head of off-white foam. The aroma is lagerish, with the muskiness of a German or Czech lager, malty, straw. The taste is roasted and toasted malt, a touch of sweet, tempered by grass and straw, a touch of tanginess on the end. The finish is mostly dry and moderately bitter. The beer drinks smooth and easy, with a tingle of carbonation. This beer is very well balanced, with a nice blend of flavors, and it is hard to do it full justice in words. It is definitely worth giving it a try. 




Left Hand Oktoberfest

This 6.6% ABV marzen lager is from Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, Colorado. 

The beer pours a clear and bright copper and amber in color. There is nearly an inch of light tan foam. The aroma is malty, nutty, caramel, a touch of sweet potato. The taste hits the same malty notes as the aroma, but that is immediately followed by a grassy bitterness that cuts down the malt and brings a quick finish. It has a tingling carbonation and is easy drinking. Fine, but doesn’t really stand out in any particular direction. I generally really like the Oktobefest style, but most of them were pretty blah this year for some reason.




Off Color Scurry

This is a 5.3% ABV dark honey ale from Off Color Brewing of Chicago, Illinois. It uses Pils, dark Munich, wheat, and chocolate malt, along with Northern Brewer, Hersbrucker and Strisselspalt hops. Its "secret ingredients" are honey, molasses and flaked oats.

The beer pours a very dark brown and ruby in color. There is a short and short-lived head of light tan foam. The aroma is roasted and toasted malts and grains, dark roasted malt, honey, molasses, nearing coffee and dark chocolate. The taste follows the aromas, loads of dark roasted malt notes, full of roasted grain, sweetness, honey, but never overly sweet, finishing dry, but with very low bitterness. The flavors are rich and the beer drinks very smooth, with an undertone of soft, tingling carbonation. This is wonderfully well done.


Off Color Apex Predator

This is a 6.5% ABV farmhouse ale, described on the bottle as a "Third trophic level farmhouse ale." It uses Pils, flaked wheat, and honey malts, along with Crystal and Sterling hops. It says its "secret techniques" are free-rise fermantation and "prey selection."  It is from Off Color Brewing of Chicago, Illinois. 

The beer pours a hazy yellow and golden. There is nearly an inch of white, somewhat fizzy, foamy head. The aroma is tart, tangy, citrus, lemon, passion fruit, lightly tropical and very floral. The taste follows the aromas, flowers, citrus, tropical fruit, sweet notes, but mostly tangy. Underneath is a light bready malt, think the soft inside of French bread. It has a light, yet tingling and refreshing, crisp carbonation. This is one of those beers that is really hard to do justice to in words, it is so well put together, so harmonious in its many flavors. This beer is definitely the apex predator in its particular food chain. 




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weissenohe Monk's Fest

This 5.0% ABV Oktoberfest season marzen offering is from the Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe of Weissenohe, Germany, in the Franconia region. You can also see more about the beer from the importer's website, Shelton Brothers.

The beer pours a somewhat cloudy very dark amber. There is a short and thin head of off-white foam. The aroma is very malty, loads of caramel, a bit nutty, touch of hazelnut, and a light fruitiness. The taste follows the aromas, lots of caramel, darkened sugar, brown sugar, but never too sweet, nutty, with a fairly bitter finish. It is lightly carbonated and drinks smooth and round. The richness of the caramel increases as you drink it, very nice. This turned out to be my favorite Oktoberfest beer this year out of the seven I tried (I don't have anymore on hand, but I wouldn't be surprised if one or two more show up somehow).





Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

This is the 5.8% ABV amber marzen Oktoberfest beer from Hacker-Pschorr brewery of Munich, Germany. They are also one of the handful of brewers who serve at the original Oktoberfest celebration. Check out their website and read the descriptions of their various "beer tents" and if it doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what will.

The beer pours a deep amber and copper in color. There is about an inch of off-white to extremely light tan head, thick and foamy. The aroma is malty, nutty, brown sugar, dark fruits, grassy, roasted malts.  The taste follows the aromas, the malts hit about every malt note you can get in an amber beer except for sweet potato, with a nice, smooth cereal maltiness and a touch of fresh and clean straw. The sweetness of the malt is immediately moderated by a grassy bitterness that brings it to a dry finish. It has a crisp, yet smooth, carbonation that is very refreshing and highly drinkable. Very solid, I liked it better than the Spaten.


Spaten Oktoberfest

It’s Oktoberfest season, I am going to try several, so let’s set the baseline with a couple of German offerings.  

This is a 5.9% ABV marzen Oktoberfest style beer from the Spaten brewery of Munich, Germany. So yes, this the Oktoberfest style from one of the brewers supplying the real Oktoberfest celebration.



The beer pours a dark amber and copper in color, brown toned. There is nearly an inch of off-white foam that leaves some rings of lacing down the glass. The aroma is toasted, lightly nutty with caramel. The taste follows the aromas, toasted, nutty, some caramel sweetness, a hint of cola, with a dry and light grassy bitter finish. The beer is nicely carbonated and drinks fairly refreshing. 


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Modern Times Black House

This is a self-described coffee, roasty stout from Modern Times Beer of San Diego, California. They share their recipes on their website for homebrewers. They roast their own coffee for this beer and use 75% Ethiopian and 25% Sumatran beans. This beer uses barley, wheat and oats.

The beer pours a very dark brown, mahogany black. There is a tall, thick, foamy head that is tan in color. The aroma is dark roasted malt, lots of coffee, kind of like walking by a coffee house while drinking a stout. The taste is a rich, smooth, elegant, dark roasted stout, full of dark chocolate, dark cocoa, and loads of rich, dark roasted coffee. The beer drinks smooth and round and easy. This is the best coffee stout I have ever had, it incorporates the coffee into the stout better than any other (it is not coffee over stout, or coffee in stout, it is truly a “coffee stout”).  


Modern Times Blazing World

This is a self-described hoppy, dank amber beer from Modern Times Beer of San Diego, California. They share their recipes on their website for homebrewers. This beer uses Mosaic, Simcoe and Nelson hops and has 85 IBU's.

The beer pours amber in color, dark honey, a touch of copper. There is about an inch of thick, foamy off-white head. The aroma is fruity, orange, sweet and tangy, caramel malt, a bit of pine and dankness. The taste follows the aromas, big and sweet and orangy, with the pine and dank around the edges. It drinks smooth and round with a subtly tingling carbonation. The bitterness is moderate and it ends mostly dry. The dankness increases as you make your way through the beer. 


Pizza Port Swami's IPA

This is a 6.8% ABV India Pale Ale from the Pizza Port Brewing Company of Carlsbad, California. They were in fact a pizza place before they started selling their own beer. They now have several locations and also can their beers.

The beer pours yellow golden in color with a tall, thick, foamy white head. The aroma is light citrus and light dank, along with some passion fruit and mango. The taste follows the aromas, but adds in more of everything, particularly the dankness, which melds nicely with the tropical fruit hop flavors. The finish is moderately to fairly bitter. It drinks crisp and refreshing, but with a bit of smoothness too. This is a very fine and solid all around IPA.


Modern Times Fortunate Islands

This is a self-described hoppy, tropical wheat beer from Modern Times Beer of San Diego, California. They share their recipes on their website for homebrewers. This uses Citra and Amarillo hopes.

The beer pours a dark honey golden in color. There is a relatively short head of white foam, both bubbly yet thick. The aroma is very hop forward, ripe, round, tropical fruits, mango, passion fruit, and a bit of dankness. The taste follows the aromas, loads of tropical fruit along with a congruous dankness that matches the notes of mango skin and passion fruit skin. The beer drinks easy and smooth with a light, tingling carbonation. There is a light to moderate bitterness on the dry finish. This is so good, try this if you ever get the chance!


Modern Times Lomaland

This is a self-described bright and rustic saison from Modern Times Beer of San Diego, California. They share their recipes on their website for homebrewers.

The beer pours a hazy yellow golden. There is a short-lived head of bubbly, white foam. The aroma is yeasty, estery, bananas, citrus, tangy, but also with some sweet notes, like a banana bread made with cranberries. The taste follows the aromas directly, finishing quite dry, with almost herbal notes. It drinks easy and well-carbonated, very refreshing. This is a nice example of the style.


Hess Grazias

This is a 6.3% ABV Vienna-style cream ale from Hess Brewing of San Diego, California. 

The beer pours dark copper in color. There is a short-lived head of off-white foam. The aroma is malty, lots of caramel. The taste follows the aroma, this a beer of caramel, dark caramel, and then some more caramel, with a grassy and moderately bitter finish to put an abrupt end to any chance that it get overly sweet. It has a fine, tingling carbonation and drinks refreshing. 


Modern Times Phalanx IPA

This is a 7.5% ABV India Pale Ale from Modern Times Beer of San Diego, California. It has 100 IBU's and uses Summer, Chinook and Horizon hops. The Summer hops are a recent Australian variety that impart peach/apricot.


The beer pours apricot, copper and amber in color. There is a medium head of white foam. The aroma is very ripe tropical fruits, orange and citrus, and overripe melon. The taste follows the aromas directly, this is big, fruity, juicy, overripe really, both sweet and tangy, I am getting the peach they mention on the bottle as I keep drinking it. There is definitely some caramel malt notes under there, but the fruity hops stay slathered on top. It drinks smooth and round with a light tingle of carbonation. The finish is only moderately bitter. 


Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America West Coast Double IPA

The 2014 Beer Camp Across America featured a special 12-pack release from Sierra Nevada Brewing of Chico, California. They invited craft breweries all across America (2,800 of them) to join in a collaboration brew with them, and their invitation was sending a bottle of this beer to all of them. They then took a Beer Camp Tour with seven stops across the USA as they made their way from their Chico Brewery to the site of their new brewery in Mills River, NC (there was an eighth mini-camp at El Bait Shop in Des Moines, Iowa). 

This 8.5% ABV double India Pale Ale pours dark golden orange and apricot in color. There is a tall, thick, foamy white head. The aroma is tropical fruits, full, ripe, rich, along with a tang of citrus. There seems to be a touch of pine in there as well. The taste follows the aromas, rich, full, ripe tropical fruits, citrus, orange and tangerine, a bit of pine, with enough malt to hold it up, but still let the hops shine. It has a dry and moderately to intensely bitter finish. It has a very smooth, rich and inviting mouthfeel. This is an overall wonderful beer, what a great invitation!




Victoria

This is an amber lager from the Cerveceria Modelo of Mexico. The beer pours dark golden and amber in color. It has a very fizzy white head that does not last long. It is well carbonated. The aroma is slightly sweet, caramel, slightly tangy in an apply sort of way. The taste follows the aromas, with a light bitterness on the end. It has a stinging, but refreshing carbonation. This is one short review, but there is not really much going on here, pretty blah.




Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout

This is a 6.0% ABV milk stout with nitrogen added from the Left Hand Brewing Company of Longmont, Colorado.

The beer pours black, with just a bit of very dark brown on the edge when held to the light. There is a very short head of tan foam. It says to pour hard. With the first bottle, I poured into a pub glass, harder than I would normally pour, but got no nitro surge, no creamy head, just some bubbles stuck to the side of the glass.  A “hard” pour is a relative term, I found with another bottle that what they are really calling for is to turn the bottle completely upside down and let it rip into the glass.  This would overfoam any other beer, but is what is needed to release the nitro and get a nice, creamy head.  The aroma is very pleasant dark roasted malt, cocoa, dark chocolate, and some coffee. The taste follows the aromas, drinks very smooth, great dark roasted malt flavors. Great stout!

My good hard pour:

First try, not hard enough, you literally have to turn the bottle completely upside down:


Pizza Port Ponto S.I.P.A.

This is a 4.5% ABV sessionable IPA from the Pizza Port Brewing Company of Carlsbad, California. They were in fact a pizza place before they started selling their own beer. They now have several locations and also can their beers.

The beer pours a lightly hazed yellow in color, reminds me of lemon meringue pie filling. There is a tall, thick head of white foam. The aroma is very dank, citrusy, lemon, with light mango. The taste follows the aromas, lots of citrus and loads of dankness, with a very bitter finish. The mouthfeel is quite light, although this is a session beer, with a reasonably refreshing carbonation. The dankness combined with the sessionability sets this one apart.



Pizza Port Chronic Ale

This is a 4.9% ABV amber ale from the Pizza Port Brewing Company of Carlsbad, California. They were in fact a pizza place before they started selling their own beer.

The beer pours copper, orange, amber and apricot in color. There is a short-lived head of off-white foam. The aroma is malty, fruity, berries and oranges, tangerine. The taste is more malty than the aroma, caramel, light fruit, mostly berries. There is almost no bitterness. The mouthfeel is smooth, but very light, too watery, with almost no carbonation. Based on the name I was expecting a West Coast dank hoppy amber ale (and therefore picked the wrong glass), but this is very light and not at all hoppy.


Hess Brewing Habitus

This is an 8.0% ABV rye India Pale Ale from Hess Brewing of San Diego, California. It uses Sterling and Chinook hops along with some rye in the malt bill.

The beer pours copper and apricot in color.  There is a short head of white foam. The aroma is citrusy, particularly orange and tangerine, with a bit of passion fruit. There is a light spicy malt note from the rye. The taste follows the aromas, adding in a touch of floral and a piney note on the end. The finish is a bit spicy, dry, and quite bitter. The beer drinks very smooth. It drinks much lighter than its 8.0% ABV would lead you to believe. Solid.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Colt 45 Malt Liquor

The famous Colt 45 is now a brand owned by Pabst who has their beers contract brewed.  It was originally brewed by National (think National Bohemian beer) of Baltimore and named after a Baltimore Colt running back who wore the number 45. It had a "famous" set of commercials from Billy Dee Williams with the catchphrase "It works every time." I doubt you would be allowed to say that about an alcoholic beverage in an ad today.

The beer pours a pale yellow golden in color. There is an inch of pure white foamy head. The aroma is apples, green apples, a bit of malt o’ meal and wet cardboard. Much more fruity and tart than I would have expected. The taste follows the aromas, mild, a touch sweet, a bit fruity, less off notes in the taste than in the aroma. It has a stinging carbonation that is refreshing. Not much going on here, this always tastes best out of the glass bottles. 


Goose Island Rambler IPA

This red India Pale Ale is a seasonal release from Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois (now owned by AB-InBev). The beer is 6.7% ABV, with 65 IBU's. It is made with Amarillo and Mt. Hood hops.

The beer pours copper with burnt orange and ruby tints. There is about an inch of creamy, foamy off-white head. The aroma is hops, pine and dank, citrus, over roasted and toasted caramel malt. Good sparring between the hops and malt. The taste follows the aromas directly, piney and citrus hops bouncing up and down off solid, rich, toasted caramel malt. It has a nice, refreshing carbonation. The bitterness is moderate, tempered by the sweetness of the malt. This is a very nice red IPA.