Saturday, March 21, 2015

Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy

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). They have been releasing quite a number of shandies in the last couple of years, and this is a 4.2% ABV grapefruit version.

The beer pours a hazy yellow, looking like the filling of lemon meringue pie. There is over an inch of pure white head, but it fizzles down fairly quickly. The aroma is a blast of grapefruit, a touch of sweet, and toasted wheat, think grapefruit curd spread on toast eaten while drinking a freshly poured Squirt. The taste follows the aromas, zesty and tangy grapefruit, with light grapefruit bitterness, over toast. It drinks very easy and refreshing. This makes for a tasty and refreshing shandy.

Camo Black Ice

This is a high gravity lager beer brewed by Five Star Brewing of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and Latrobe, Pennsylvania (contract brewed by City Brewing). It is 10.5% ABV.  The can says it is "Ice Brewed for Extra Smooth Taste." The ice brewing part is surely right, but the rest is a lie!

The beer pours a dark golden in color, just a tint of orange. (The glass is to show the beer, this type of beer needs to be taken straight from the can while as cold as possible.) There is a short white head that quickly disappears. The aroma is sweet and tangy, sweetened malt o’ meal, circus peanuts candy, fermenting green apples. The taste follows the aromas, an amalgam of sweet, tangy, and chemicals. It goes down with a carbonated alcohol burn and leaves a screech of horribly cheap sake in the back of the mouth. Not gag inducing, but close, and definitely not good either. I never understand these type of beers.  If you want a cheap drunk, there are tastier ways.  If you want a decent and drinkable malt liquor, there are much better options.  

Samuel Adams Rebel Rouser Double IPA

This 8.4% ABV and 85 IBU double IPA is from the Boston Brewing Company, makers of Samuel Adams beers.  While their Rebel IPA came out about a year ago, doing West Coast style hoppy beers is still relatively new territory for this long-standing craft brewer. They also have a just released a session IPA in this lineup called Rebel Rider.

The beer pours honey and apricot in color. There is a tall, thick, foamy head of white. The aroma is piney, musky, citrus zest and mango skin.  The taste follows the aromas, hitting lots of hop notes, rich, ripe fruits, citrus, tropical, pine and musk. It is moderately to strongly bitter, and dry on the finish. It drinks big, smooth, round, full, but not heavy. This is the best IPA that Sam Adams has ever made by about a million miles. I'm looking forward to trying it again.  So, their Rebel IPA was decent, but not a great IPA, the Rebel Rider was a definite notch up from that, but this one is their height to date so far as IPA's go.

New Glarus Apple Ale

This ale is made with apples from Door County, Wisconsin.  It is from the New Glarus Brewing Company  in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Their beers are only distributed in Wisconsin. Their beers are tasty, yet very accessible. 

The beer pours a brown, copper and amber in color. There is a short and short-lived head of off-white. The aroma is toasted caramel malt and lots of apple; apple juice, apple cider, and a bit of apple vinegar. The taste is a delicious meld of brown ale and fresh squeezed apple cider. It drinks with a very fine, yet intense carbonation. It is refreshing and delicious. I would take this over a hard cider any day.

Summit Union Series 3X Mild Ale

This is a 7.2% ABV take on a 19th century English mild ale. It is from the Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the fourth installment in their limited release Union Series which according to their website is "The inspired union of new ingredients and time-honored brewing traditions. Brewing has always been about discovery. For the Summit Union Series, we scour the globe for new (and sometimes rare) hops and malts. Then we add equal parts craft and creativity to bring you a whole new brew. Released in small batches every so often." 

The beer pours amber and light brown in color. There is a half-inch of off-white head. The aroma is malty, nutty, caramel, toffee. The taste follows the aromas and adds in a grassy bitterness. The finish is quite dry. The beer drinks smooth, with a moderate carbonation. If you like a malty, but dry beer, with a bitter finish, then I hope you got to try this limited edition. Not a lot to say about it, the beer speaks for itself, and is another great beer from this Union Series.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Anchor Winter Wheat

This 7.0% ABV dark wheat ale is from the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California. They are one of America's original craft brewers in the modern era. The beer is brewed with barley in addition to five different wheats from Belgium, Germany, the Midwest, plus from a family farm 75 miles from the brewery. 

The beer pours black in color with a half inch of thick, somewhat creamy, tan to light brown head. The aroma is roasted, lightly smokey, with a tang both fruit and mineral. It actually reminds me of a Guinness product. The taste follows the aromas, but kicks everything up a notch, more rich, more roasted, more smokey, more full, more fruity. The beer drinks very smooth, with a moderately bitter finish. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Smithwick's Winter Spirit

This 4.5% ABV Smithwick's winter ale is made by Guinness of Dublin, Ireland.  It came in a winter sampler pack.

The beer pours a dark brown and amber in color. There is a tall, thick and somewhat creamy head of off-white to extremely light tan head. The aroma is mild, some toasted, roasted, caramel malt. The taste is as the aroma, mild, roasted and toasted malt, just a hint of smokey peat. The finish is lightly bitter and dry, and the beer drinks quite easy. I like the light smokiness that it has, it blends well with its malt, but calling this “full bodied” is a misnomer.  If its flavors were stepped up a notch and it was more full-bodied in actuality, it would be very good. As it is, it is merely moderately pleasant, and it does grow on you as you drink it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

This 4.2% ABV unfiltered wheat beer is from the Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois. The beer takes its name from the area code for Chicago. Now that GI is owned by AB-InBev, this beer is brewed in Baldwinsville, New York and Fort Collins, Colorado.

The beer pours golden in color with a touch of haze. There is an inch of white, foamy head that bubbles down at a moderate pace. The aroma is toasted wheat, grain, with a touch of citrus and a light mineral tang. The taste follows the aromas directly, but they are a bit deeper, more toast in the wheat, more tang and fruit in the citrus, and with a grassy and fairly bitter dry finish. The beer drinks crisp, carbonated and refreshing. This is a nice, tasty pounding beer.

Surly Doomtree

This 5.7% ABV beer is from the Surly Brewing Company of Brooklyn Center (and now Minneapolis), Minnesota. It was made in collaboration with the indie hip-hop collective group with the same name as the beer. Internet consensus seems to be that this is a take on the biere de garde style, but it is inimitably Surly as well. I can't tell you how happy I am that Surly is now distributed in Iowa and that I could walk into my local HyVee and have this and six other Surly beers to choose from!

The beer pours a deep amber and copper in color. There is nearly an inch of off-white to light tan foam that settles down fairly quickly. The aroma is an amalgam of Belgian yeast, fruity esters, pine needles, dark caramel, and spices. The taste follows the aromas, it bounces from malty, to roasty, to estery, to fruity, to piney, to spicy, and back and forth again, with a quite bitter and dry finish. It is medium bodied with moderate carbonation.  I had no idea what kind of beer this was, the can doesn't give much of a clue, so I was a bit taken back by the Belgian yeast notes.  I can't wait to try it again and see how it hits when I know what to expect out of it.

Tried it again on March 24, 2015 and it is even better the second time when you start with an idea of what it will taste like.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Funkwerks Tropic King

This 8.0% ABV saison style beer is from Funkwerks of Fort Collins, Colorado. 

The beer pours a hazy apricot in color. There is a very tall, billowing, pillowy, bubbly, head of off-white foam. The aroma is floral first, geraniums and marigolds, with lighter notes of very ripe tropical zone fruits. There is yeast and crackers throughout on the underside of the bigger flowers and fruit. The taste is more balanced, a light and airy blend of big ripe fruits and flowers in full bloom. The flavors are big, yet fall lightly on the tongue in a bubbling torrent of fine bottle-conditioned carbonation. The finish is dry and slightly tart, with a lingering aftertaste of tropical fruits on an ocean breeze. This is a nice take on the saison style.

Schell's Snowstorm 2014 Grand Cru

This is the 2014 winter offering from the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota. They were established in 1860 and they are the second oldest family owned brewery in the United States, behind Yuengeling. Every winter they release Snowstorm, featuring a different style of beer every year.

The Belgian-style ale is brewed with coriander. The beer pours a very deep amber, medium brown, trending towards ruby. There is a short lived head of off-white to light tan head. The aroma is malty, caramel, estery, fruity, and spiced. The taste follows the aromas, rich malts, sweet caramel, dark and ripe fruits, with fruity esters, and clove-like spices. The malt stars and the rest compliments, these beers are often out of balance, but not here. The beer drinks soft and round, yet with a strong tingle of carbonation. The finish is dry. This is very good, Schell's is putting out some interesting stuff.

New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA

This 4.5% ABV session IPA is a new release from New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The beer pours a deep, dark golden, nearing a touch of orange-amber. There is an inch of thick, foamy, white head. The aroma is citrus, pineapple, tropical fruits, with mango skin and passion fruit. The taste follows the aromas, light, but intense fruit flavors, over a crackery malt. The beer drinks easy, with an intense tingle of carbonation. This is a very nice session IPA.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

This 4.3% ABV beer is brewed by Guinness in Ireland. It comes in a can with a nitro widget to give it that surge on pouring, and creamy mouthfeel.

The beer pours amber in color, clear after the nitro surge subsides. There is an inch of perfectly creamy head, off-white to very, very light tan. The aroma is roasty, caramel, light fruits, with a mineral tang. The taste follows the aromas, light caramel, lightly roasted malt, just a touch of dark plum-like fruit, with that signature mineral tang of Guinness made products. It drinks extremely smooth and creamy. This is mild, but very pleasant.

Magnum Malt Liquor

This 5.6% ABV malt liquor offering is from the Miller Brewing Company. Miller's 40 ounce bottles are now plastic, which offends my old school sensibilities.  

The beer pours golden in color with over an inch of pure white head that leaves light lacing on the glass. The aroma is sweet grain, honey, tangy, a bit metallic, with an odor approximating grassy hops. The taste follows the aromas, but is a bit cleaner and more balanced than the aroma. The beer drinks easy with quite with a strong carbonation, particularly for a malt liquor. In quite the change for a malt liquor, this one is as good out of a glass as it is out of the bottle. Pretty darn good as malt liquors go, but I swear the plastic leaves a note in the aftertaste.

Dieselpunk IPA

Dieselpunk is a line of contract brews for World Brews, and this is sold in the Kroger's line of stores. This is their 6.9% ABV India Pale Ale.

The beer pours amber and copper in color with over an inch of thick, foamy white to off-white head that leaves some thick lacing. The aroma is lightly fruity, with citrus, and light grapefruit pithiness. There is a malt base underneath with caramel notes. The taste flips the aromas, putting the malt first, adding in the tang, but ending metallic. The beer drinks smooth and easy, with light carbonation. The bitterness is moderate, but light for the style. So, this drinks like what it is, a cheap, off-brand, grocery store line of IPA. It’s not a great IPA, but it is a drinkable beer.

Borgata (Brickway) Pils

This 4.8% ABV pilsner beer is from the Brickway Brewery (formerly Borgata until an East Coast casino of the same name threatened to sue them) of Omaha, Nebraska.  I had heard of the brewery, but did not realize they had any can offerings; I thought they were draft only at this point.

The beer pours clear golden yellow, with over an inch of thick white foam. The aroma is grains, bright, spicy, floral, touches of honey and fruit. The taste follows the aromas, well balanced, grain, sweet, but not too sweet, a bit of straw and grass, with notes of honey. The finish is crisp and dry with a light to moderate bitterness. This is one tasty and drinkable American pils.