Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wiseacre Holy Candy

This 7.2% ABV Belgian-style dubbel ale is from Wiseacre Brewing of Memphis, Tennessee. 

The beer pours a deep, dark amber and dark brown. There is a short and short-lived head of light tan foam. The aroma is sweet and yeasty, candi sugar, bananas, cloves, caramel. The taste follows the aromas directly, hitting the same notes. The beer drinks sweet, but comes to a very dry end. The aftertaste is like a spiced holiday cake. The beer drinks smooth with fine, tingling carbonation. It tastes better and better as you make your way through the bottle.


Samuel Adams Session Ale ESB

The Samuel Adams line of beers are from the Boston Brewing Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This is a 5.0% ABV take on the Extra Special Bitter style.


The beer pours dark golden in color, just a hint of amber, very clear. There is a tall half-inch or more of white, foamy head. The aroma is mild, floral, grain, with light straw, and a touch of honey and tea. The taste follows the aromas directly, the taste is mild, but delicious. The finish has the grassy, intense bitterness of a pilsner. The beer drinks crisp and refreshing. The name is so right on this, sessionable as hell.  


Great Divide Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale

This is a 10.5% ABV English-style old ale aged in whiskey barrels from the Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado. It is a barrel-aged version of their Hibernation winter seasonal. 

The beer pours a very dark brown, with dark ruby. There is over a half-inch head of thickly foamy light tan. The aroma is toasted and roasted malt, light chocolate, whiskey, oak, vanilla, and caramel. The taste follows the aromas, but adds in some dark fruits, especially dark cherry. The finish has the dry astringency of oak. The beer drinks smooth, but a bit watery for its big flavors. The carbonation is fine and intense, like a bottle-conditioned beer.  

Regular Hibernation is a nice roasty, malty winter beer, but I don't think it held up particularly well to barrel-aging.  I would drink the regular Hibernation again, but would save my money and pass on the barrel-aged (these often go for around $25 a bottle).


J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2010

This is a 11.5% ABV vintage barleywine ale from J.W. Lees of Manchester, England. 

The beer pours a dark copper and amber in color, with warm, gem-like gleams. There is very little carbonation and no head. There are a couple of small protein floaties. The aroma is toffee, butterscotch, oxidized, yellow raisins, raisins, and sherry. The taste follows the aromas, but adds in light smokiness, tobacco, and earthiness, getting an almost celery note. The beer drinks smooth, with a very astringent, almost woody finish, and lightly bitter. I'm really not sure what to make of this. I like barleywines, but this is as aged a one as I have had. The oxidation flavors are more than I like.  


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Confluence Belgian-Style Quadruple Ale

The Confluence Brewing Company is in Des Moines, Iowa. They have been commercially available for some time on tap and in howlers sold at liquor stores, but are now starting to release some bottled specials. This 10.2% ABV Belgian-style Quadruple ale is part of a limited release Virtuous Endeavor Series of bottle-conditioned Belgian Style beers (a Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadruple). 

The beer pours a lightly hazed dark brown, with just a touch of ruby. There is a short head of light tan foam. The aroma is malty, with lots of caramel and dark fruits, plum and raisins, with a bit of a fruity and yeasty tang. The taste follows the aromas, sweet yet tangy, caramel and dark fruits, with a bit of a light red wine note. The finish is dry despite the sweet tones. The beer drinks very smooth with a tingling of carbonation. This is very well done, and tasty.  


Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

The Samuel Adams line of beers are from the Boston Brewing Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This 5.9% ABV ale is a holiday winter seasonal brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel.

The beer pours a dark ruby in color. There is over an inch of thick, foamy, light tan head. The aroma is caramel, dark fruits, and holiday spices. The taste follows the aromas, roasted malt, caramel, dark fruits, and spices, the ginger and cinnamon apparent, tasting festive. The beer drinks smooth with a soft carbonation. The season has passed, but this makes a very enjoyable holiday ale.



The Sour Note Wood Series Flanders Style Red Ale

The Sour Note Brewing is out of Gary, Indiana and currently brews and bottles their beers in the space of the 18th Street Brewery in Gary. This takes their eponymous Flanders Style Red Ale and ages it in oak red wine barrels.

The beer pours a lightly hazed brown and ruby. There is a short, but thick head of tan foam. The aroma is tart and vinous, but also rich, with caramel and dark fruits, along with oaky wood notes. The red wine is apparent in the aroma. The taste follows the aromas, with the tartness turned up and shining bright. After the tartness comes a wave of toasted caramel, then red wine along with dark fruit tones, followed by an astringent, woody dryness. This beer is both tart and rich. The beer drinks smooth and vinous, with a very light carbonation. This is one very well done sour.


Samuel Adams Scotch Ale

The Samuel Adams line of beers are from the Boston Brewing Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This is a 5.5% ABV ale that uses four different malts, including a peat smoked malt used in Scotch whiskies. 

The beer pours a dark amber and ruby in color. There is a short head of light tan head. The aroma is smokey peat, dark fruits, sweet caramel malt. The taste follows the aromas, very smokey and peaty, with dark fruits and caramel of generous malting. The finish is lightly bitter, and more dry than sweet. The beer drinks with a somewhat intense, fine, carbonation.  


Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat

This 5.1% ABV beer is from the Shock Top Brewing Company of St. Louis, Missouri (think Anheuser-Busch InBev). According to the bottle it is a Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with spices, caramel malt, and artificial flavors. 


The beer pours a dull, dark amber in color. There is a short and short-lived head of off-white foam. The beer has a soda like fizzy carbonation. The aroma is just like a fresh-baked soft pretzel, toasted, with a general “beer” aroma underneath. The taste follows the aromas, tasting just like a soft pretzel. The beer drinks easy with tingling carbonation. The mouthfeel is very light, just a touch too watery for the full pretzel flavor.  



Saturday, February 20, 2016

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

This is a 5.1% ABV lager from Birra Peroni in Rome, Italy. 


The beer pours a clear light golden, bleached straw in color. There is a relatively short head of white foam. The aroma is straw, hay, with light floral and honey. The taste follows the aromas, a touch of honey sweet, golden grain, lots of straw. The finish is fairly bitter, clean, and dry. The beer drinks easy with a crisp and refreshing carbonation. This is a classic type Euro lager.  


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Anchor California Lager

This 4.9% ABV lager is from the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California. It is based on the 1876 recipe of the first lager brewed in California. It uses Cluster hops, which was the premier 19th century California hop.

The beer pours dark honey to light amber in color. There is an inch of thick, foamy, white head. The aroma is grass, straw, flowers, honey. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same notes, first sweet, then finishing with a strong grassy bitterness. The beer drinks smooth, yet crisply carbonated and refreshing. This is a nice lager.  


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bent Brewstillery 2014 Barrel-Aged Dark Fatha

This 2014 barrel-aged vintage of the 11.1% ABV American "Emperial" Stout (note the Darth Vader like character on the bottle) is from the Bent Brewstillery of Roseville, Minnesota. It has 57 IBU's. The beer was aged in Scotch, Rye, and Bourbon Whiskey barrels. 

The beer pours a deep black. There is a half-inch of tan head. The aroma is a battle of different whiskey notes, ending on a tangy note, light vanilla, light chocolate, raisins, and light char. The taste is deep chocolate, raisins, a bit of currants, light char, and very light whiskey. There is sweetness, but the finish is closer to dry than sweet. There is a moderate bitterness. The beer drinks smooth and round with a tingling carbonation. I wish there was as much whiskey in the taste as there is in the aroma.


August Schell Apparent Horizon

This is a 5.1% ABV berlinner weisse from the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota.  Schell's was established in 1860 and I believe they are the second oldest family owned brewery in the United States, behind Yuengeling. This beer is part of their Noble Star Collection of Berliner weisse style beers. There is a good description of the process for this beer on their website: "Apparent Horizon was brewed as a slightly stronger, “Vollbier” (full beer) strength Berliner Weisse, with a 35% portion of the malt bill coming from rye malt.  After a mixed primary fermentation with yeast and lactobacillus bacteria, it was transferred into our original, 1936 Cypress wood lagering tank.  An authentic brettanomyces culture was pitched for a long, slow, 9-month secondary fermentation.  The resulting beer is a highly complex, spicy version of a Berliner Weisse.  It features a moderate but balanced acidity with notes of lemon and cider."

The beer pours a slightly hazed honey golden yellow. There is a short and short-lived head of white foam. The aroma is tangy and fruity over toasted rye. The taste follows the aromas, tangy and fruity, over rich toasted and roasted rye. It is like tart fruit on a mild rye toast. The beer drinks easy with tingling carbonation. This is very well put together; Schell's is really dialing these sours in now.  


Backpocket Thorogood

This is a 8.0% ABV Wee Heavy strong Scotch ale that is aged in bourbon barrels; hence its name "Thorogood" referencing the George Thorogood song One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. It comes from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  This "Corridor Collaboration" is part of their Lab Series, where they get a little more adventurous and try out some new styles. 

The beer pours a very deep, dark, brown and ruby in color. There is a short, thin, and short-lived head of off-white to light tan foam. The aroma is very smokey, toasted and roasted malt, with a tangy dark fruit. The taste follows the aromas, lots of tangy dark fruit and smoke. Cherries come to the fore in the dark fruit as the beer warms. The problem is, there is very little else going on here, the barrel seemed to add no complexity or flavors, or, if it did, it is all knocked out by the smoke. This would be better if they took a traditional strong Scottish ale and aged it in bourbon barrels. This is really much more of a smoked beer than anything else.  


Confluence Belgian-Style Tripel Ale

The Confluence Brewing Company is in Des Moines, Iowa. They have been commercially available for some time on tap and in howlers sold at liquor stores, but are now starting to release some bottled specials. This 9.9% ABV Belgian-style Tripel ale is part of a limited release Virtuous Endeavor Series of bottle-conditioned Belgian Style beers (a Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadruple). 

The beer pours a dark and dirty apricot in color, dark amber, a touch hazy. There is a short head of white foam, not long-lasting. The aroma is bright, tangy, fruity, but with some underlying sweetness. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same notes, a little more sweetness in the flavor. There is a woody note as well, and a touch of a flavor and feel that is like artificial sweetener (the candi sugar?). The beer drinks smooth, with a tingling of carbonation. The body has just a hint of being too watery for its large flavor and alcohol level. It is nicely warming, but not boozy.  


Samuel Adams Winter Lager

The Samuel Adams line of beers are from the Boston Brewing Company of Boston, Massachusetts.  This is a 5.6% ABV dark wheat bock brewed with orange peel, cinnamon, and ginger. 

The beer pours medium brown, dark copper and amber in color. There is a half-inch of very thick and smooth, light tan head. The aroma is malty lager, followed by a wave of ginger and cinnamon. The taste follows the aromas; very, very toasted malt, followed by lots of ginger, and a bit of cinnamon. The orange is very mild, giving just a bit of a tang. The beer drinks smooth, yet carbonated. Nothing wrong with this, it just didn't work for me, perhaps too much ginger?


Galena Anna Belle IPA

This 7.5% ABV India Pale Ale is from the Galena Brewing Company of Galena, Illinois. It has 80 IBU's, and won a gold medal in 2013 from the North American Brewer's Association.

The beer pours a dark, yet gleaming, copper and amber in color. There is a very large, foamy head of off-white. The aroma is lots of orange, fruity, citrusy, but also candied orange, over caramel malt. The taste follows the aromas, this an orange and malt bomb of an IPA, East Coast style. The bitterness is moderate, edging to strong. The beer drinks quite smooth. This is a nice take on the IPA style.  


Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale

This 5.5% ABV American Hoppy Pale Ale is from the Ballast Point Brewing Company of San Diego, California.

The beer pours a gleaming copper and amber in color. There is a short head of off-white foam, not long-lasting. The aroma is a blast of citrus and tropical fruit, over a musky mango skin and passion fruit skin. The taste follows the aromas, citrus, tropical and musk. The beer drinks easy, smooth, yet with a crisp carbonation. The finish is moderately bitter. This is a nice, hop forward American pale ale.



O'Fallon King Louie Winter Stout

This stout using chocolate from Bissinger's  is from the O'Fallon Brewery of O'Fallon, Missouri.

The beer pours a very dark brown, appearing nearly wholly black. There is a tall head of dark tan foam. The aroma is light char, chocolate, creamy. The taste is loads of cocoa and chocolate, light char; there is sweetness, but the finish is dry and fairly bitter. The beer drinks easy and smooth, with a light tingling carbonation.  Overall, this just didn't do much for me.


Titzenheimer Beer

This 4.3% ABV lager beer is from Buck Creek Distributing, and brewed and canned by the Old Capitol Brew Works of Davenport, Iowa. 

The beer pours a sparkling light amber in color. There is a small and short-lived white head. The aroma is malty, a bit of sweet potato, with some grassy, floral hops. The taste follows the aromas, malty, tangy, grassy, a touch of sweet, but coming to a dry and moderately bitter finish. The beer is highly carbonated and drinks crisp and refreshing. This beer is decent, but not great.


Zipline American Tripel

"American innovation meets Belgian tradition," is how the bottle describes this 8.0% ABV beer that uses Mosaic hops. It is from the Zipline Brewing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, home of "Brave New Brew."

The beer pours a deep apricot with amber and copper tints. There is a short head of white to off-white foam that is not long lasting. The aroma is fruity, tangy, sweet, a bit of peach and apricot, with lighter tropical notes in the background. The taste follows the aromas, the sweetness and the tanginess come into nice balance, leaving deep, rich fruit notes of tropical, citrus and peach. The finish is just this side of dry, with a light, tangy bitterness. The beer drinks elegantly smooth. This is nice, nice, nice.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bell's Neptune: The Mystic

This is a 9.0% stout. It is one of a seven part series of beers inspired by Gustav Holst's musical composition "The Planets." It is from Bell's Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. This beer is brewed with an array of other ingredients: black pepper, hickory bark, dandelion root, molasses, maple syrup, cayenne peppers, star anise, raisins, dates, and other spices.

The beer pours black in appearance with just a touch of very dark brown on the edges when held to the light. The aroma is dark roasted malt, char. The maple syrup, star anise, cayenne pepper, raisins and dates are all apparent within the general spiciness from all of the flavor additions. The overall effect is like strong, traditional root beer. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes, rich, deep, spicy. The beer is “stout” enough to hold up all of the mingling flavors within it. It drinks full, but not heavy. The carbonation is light, but combines with the spice for a pleasant sting. While there is sweetness in this beer, it finishes just on the dry side, with a light bitterness. This is really, really good.

Many beers with an ingredient list as long as this would overwhelm themselves, and turn into a mess. This turns out a well-balanced whole that is delicious. Their website says the shelf life of this beer is "unlimited." That makes me wish I had a second bottle to age.


Greenbush Cabra Perdida

This is an 11.2% ABV imperial cream stout brewed with blueberries. It is from the Greenbush Brewing Company of Sawyer, Michigan. The name translates to "lost goat."

The beer pours deep black in appearance. There is a short head of tan foam. The aroma is sweet, dark roasted, chocolatey, hazelnut, with a light note of dark fruitiness. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same notes, but even deeper and richer. The dark roastiness turns to pleasant char. Despite the sweet notes, the finish is dry, with a moderate bitterness. The beer drinks round and smooth, with a light and subtle carbonation. I wondered how the blueberry would work in this, but it is subtle and blends in well with the other stout flavors.  



Backpocket Blood on the Blade Red IPA

This 6.5% ABV red India Pale Ale is from the Backpocket Brewing Company of Coralville, Iowa.  If you are ever in the Coralville/Iowa City area, or just driving by on I-80, this place is definitely worth a stop. 


The beer pours a deep copper and amber, tinted blood red. There is about an inch of thick, foamy, light tan head. The aroma is citrusy, tangerines and blood orange, over a solid toasted, caramel malt base. The taste reverses the aromas, hitting the solid, strong malt first, with the citrus on the finish. The beer drinks smooth, full-bodied, but never even approaching heavy, with a tingle of carbonation. The finish is dry and moderately bitter.  


Beer Here Kremlin Crude

Beer Here is from Denmark, but this bottle indicates is was brewed at DeProef, Lochristi,Belgium. This is a 10.0% ABV Russian Imperial Stout. 


The beer pours an extremely dark brown and ruby when held to the light, black for all other appearances. There is a tall, foamy, and very thick head of tan foam. The aroma is dark roasted malts, sweet, chocolatey, with some pleasant char. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same dark roasted notes, but adding in a blast of bitterness to cut down on the sweetness. The beer drinks very smooth, round, and rich, with a light tingle of carbonation.