Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager
4.9% ABV
The Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
12 oz bottle
Served in Dogfish Head Signature Glass
Date notched on bottle: Best by November 2013
Reviewed on 1/18/13

This lager pours an almost clear (for beer) golden amber color with a decent white head.  Nice lacing.  Moderate carbonation.

Smell consists of hops, wheat, slight yeast, malt, sugar, slight citrus, biscuity.

Taste consists of hops wheat, malt, yeast, sugar, citrus, bread, biscuit, touch of spice.

Smooth on the palate, dry, well balanced.  Easy on the palate overall but still with great taste.

Overall, Sam Adams Boston Lager is still one of the classic craft beers, even if it's pretty much everywhere by this point and has been passed by many others in terms of taste.  Don't be fooled though by the omnipresence of this beer and the fact that that label has been burned into your brain--this is still a tasty beer.  Classic, balanced lager taste that has quite solid flavor and really just looks nice in a glass.  Hops, wheat, and malt flavors are in abundance and done quite well.  Always one to go back to now and again.

My score: 90

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
10.0% ABV
The Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY
12 oz bottle
Served in St. Bernardus snifter
No date on bottle; indicated on label as "Winter 12-13"
Reviewed on 1/11/13

This stout pours a solid dark brown color with a thin toasty beige head.  Good lacing.  Mild evident carbonation.

Smell has chocolate, malt, coffee, caramel, slight licorice, slight hops, mild raisins.

Taste has chocolate, coffee, malt, slight cherry, slight raisin, mild licorice, some hops, spices, some alcohol.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with some nice even grainy texture on the tongue. Some bitterness and a touch of dryness.

Overall, a tasty imperial stout with a bold chocolate and coffee flavor profile.  Flavors overall are quite well balanced, with some tastes of alcohol coming through on the back end.  This compares quite well with other imperial stouts.  Nicely done.  

My score: 92

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Dogfish Head Pumpkin Old Ale

Dogfish Head Pumpkin Old Ale
8.0% ABV
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
On tap at the Dogfish Head Brewpub, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Served in a snifter glass (approx. 8 oz serving)
Reviewed on 12/27/12 at the brewpub 

This ale, exclusive to Dogfish Head's Rehoboth brewpub, pours a hazy brownish amber with a good thin bubbly head.  Mild carbonation.

Smell consists of pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg.  I approached this one after two beers and food, so it was becoming difficult to discern smells.

Taste has rich pumpkin and vanilla with a good bourbon/whiskey flavored kick.  Nutmeg, some darker fruits like cherry and raisin coming through.  Mild hops.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a good bourbon bite.  Some earthiness, some syrupiness.

Overall, this was a good pumpkin ale that packs a nice bourbon punch to it.  Vanilla, dark fruitiness present.  In taste, this one is almost a fall/pumpkin cousin to 120 minute IPA though with the alcohol.  Where did this one come from? More info here. It's the product of a competition-winning Philadelphia area homebrewer who got to make his brew at Dogfish's Rehoboth brewpub.  Nice work--I think it's as good as Dogfish Head's seasonal Punkin Ale. 

My score: 92


Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Lagunitas Maximus Ale

Lagunitas Maximus Ale
8.2% ABV
Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA
12 oz bottle
Served in Dogfish Head Signature Glass
No date on bottle
Reviewed on 1/5/13

This ale pours a bright golden amber color with a good bubblye ivory-colored head.  Near excellent lacing.  Lots of carbonation. Superior presentation.

Smell has hops, pine, some malt, grapefruit, some lemon, some spice, mild pepperiness.

Taste has hops, pine, sugariness, grapefuit, mild spices, hint of lemon, touch of woodiness.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth and mellow for an IPA.  Nice balance of flavors.  

Overall, this is a nice hoppy IPA that has a nice enough balance of flavors that it comes across as fairly mellow.  It's worth noting that its overall appearance in the glass is about flawless.  Grapefruit, pine, and lemon tastes come through well, and it has some sugariness to it, which provides a good counter.  I'd definitely have this again.

My score: 94

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
ABV: 8.3%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
22 oz bottle
Served in Dogfish Head Signature Glass
Reviewed on 10/5/12 

This black ale--identified as a black rye IPA on the bottle--pours a fairly solid brown with a beige-to-cream colored head that keeps some form.  Good lacing.  Mild carbonation evident.

On the nose, aromas of hops, pepper, floral, bread, malt, rye, caramel, and spices come through.

On taste, malt, hops, floral notes, chocolate, rye, coffee, caramel, spice, and slight ginger are detected.  It has a varied mix of pleasing flavors, making it an interesting take on an IPA.

Mouthfeel is smooth, earthy, dry.  Great balance of flavors.  Good bit of bitterness.  Nice movement of tastes across the palate.  

Overall, this is a great tasting, black rye IPA with a distinct and flavorful profile.  Nice touches of dryness and bitterness.  The tastes are quite bold on the palate.  Another superior offering from Firestone Walker. 

My score: 96

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Dogfish Head Cypher

Dogfish Head Cypher
6.0% ABV
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
On tap at the Dogfish Head Brewpub, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Served in a snifter glass (approx. 8 oz serving)
Reviewed on 12/27/12 at the brewpub

This beer, a brewpub exclusive billed as a dark saison, is dark and bubbly with a decent off-white head.  Good lacing evident.

Smell is malty, with slight hops, caramel, floral notes, and spiciness coming through. 

Taste has malt, caramel, spiciness, some pepperiness, some smokiness, some woodfire taste.

Mouthfeel is earthy with some good texture.  Some good chewiness to it.

Overall, this is an interesting twist on a saison.  Malty and rich with caramel, but still retaining good earthy floralness like a true saison.  Smoky and spicy.

My score: 91

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why Not Beer?

I could've named this one "Wine Snobs, Beer Slobs."  A general misconception about beer is that it's unsophisticated and therefore so are its consumers.  Beer guzzling frat boys, slobs  scratching their distended beer guts, and, oh yeah, Homer Simpson.  Of course, there's also such a misconception in the other direction about wine.  The sophisticated elite inserting their refined noses into wine glasses to take a sniff and using words from an atmospheric lexicon to describe what they smell, the Crane brothers from Frasier, and, oh yeah, the French.  For beer vs. wine, it's the boorish vs. the cultured, the working class in stained t-shirts vs. the upper class in tailored suits and formal wear, guzzling vs. sipping. These stereotypes for beer and wine are unfair, although I think in general the dismissal of beer is more damaging to its image.  It can be easily dismissed as something not worth savoring, something not to be paired with sophisticated food, or something you don't want to be seen drinking when you're decked out in formal wear.

One critical positive for beer is that you can get a world class product at an inexpensive price.  Beers such as Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and just about anything from Samuel Smith are highly regarded and light on the wallet.  While a common misconception about wine is the higher the price, the better the wine, overall, for wine, world class quality and price are inextricably tied together.

The following are some beers that I believe are good examples that defy the various misconceptions about beer yet are still distinctly beers.  While I love hoppy IPAs, I'm generally leaving them out of this discussion.  For what's listed, my feeling is that wine drinkers should be able to appreciate the sophistication and subtleties in taste (though these aren’t beers that mimic wines).  Heck, they may even like them.  So, yes, why not beer?

Burley Oak Rude Boy: An amber/red proclaimed by Burley Oak as "the wine of beers."  You can't find it in stores, but it's increasingly appearing on tap in Maryland's Eastern Shore area. My wife Kathy, a wine drinker, likes this one. 

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack: Okay, this one is technically a black IPA, but it's also malty and floral with  chocolate, rye, coffee, caramel, pepper and even some slight ginger coming through.  Firestone Walker is based in Paso Robles, CA--in the heart of wine country.

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde: A great example of a tripel, coming from…Quebec?  Smooth flavors of bananas, cloves, and a good mix of spiciness and sweetness mask the fact that this is 9% ABV.  A widely available beer that comes together quite well on the palate.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron:  Dogfish Head has a knack for defying expectations, even if they don’t always exactly hit the mark.  With Palo Santo, though, they do.  This beer is billed as a brown ale, but has many characteristics of a stout.  Vanilla, coffee, and wood flavorings are in abundance.

Trappistes Rochefort 10:  I'd be remiss if I didn't include my favorite here.  This Belgian ale, a product of a Trappist monastery, is rich with flavor.  As it comes up to temperature, nuances of flavors appear, making each sip a different tasting experience.

Others misconception-defiant beers to try: Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca, Brewer’s Art Resurrection, Erdinger Hefe-Weizen Dark.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: St. Bernardus Pater 6

St. Bernardus Pater 6
6.7% ABV
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV, Belgium
11.2 oz bottle
Served in St. Bernardus snifter
Date on bottle: Best by 11/6/15
Reviewed on 12/29/12 

This dubbel pours a medium brown with a frothy white head.  Great lacing.

Smell consists of malt, wheat, yeast, banana, floral notes, spice, pepper, slight caramel.

Taste consists of malt, hops, wheat, bread, yeast, banana, floral, herbal, pepperiness.

Mouthfeel is smooth with good floral and herbal earthiness.  Nice balance of flavors.  Good dryness on the palate.

Overall, this is a quite good, deep, rich dubbel with nice wheat and banana tastes accented with floral and herbal notes.  Bready, malty with some hoppiness.  All of the tastes mesh well together.  As the temperature of the beer rises, more nuances of flavors reveal themselves, with each taste almost different from the previous.

My score: 95

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
8.0% ABV
Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
12 oz bottle
Served in Dogfish Head Signature Glass
Reviewed on 8/22/12 

This ale pours a hazy golden color with a thick bubbly white head.  Moderate carbonation evident.  Great lacing.

Smell consists of hops, flowers, slight banana, citrus particularly grapefruit, and biscuit.

Taste has citrus, hops, banana, biscuit, bread, spice, grapefruit, malt, slight smokiness.

Mouthfeel is earthy with well balanced flavors, dry, some bitterness.

Overall, this is a solid tasting farmhouse ale with a good presentation in the glass and a good variety of well balanced flavors.  Somewhat reminiscent of La Fin du Monde, but deeper and with more floral notes.  Good dryness and bitterness.  Quite drinkable. 

My score: 95

Review: Sam Adams - Thirteenth Hour

Sam Adams Thirteenth Hour

A Dark Belgian-style Stout with notes of Spice, Coffee, Chocolate & Oak
My guess would be a 16E style - Belgian Specialty Ale

1pt 9.4 Fl Oz bottle - Available only at Sam Adams Boston Brewery
9% Alcohol by Volume
Part of the Barrel Room Collection

This is one of three beers available exclusively at the Sam Adams Boston Brewery location.

Waited a few minutes after pour to let this beer come to temperature before sampling.

Aroma:     9 out of 12

Malty sweetness is apparent immediately, a coffee/chocolate scent with a small fragrance of raisins, oak and vanilla. No hop aroma is apparent

Appearance:     3 out of 3

Very Dark, had to get my light out to see to the other side. Black with ruby highlights. Good head retention. Head is a nice light tan color.

Flavor:     15 out of 20

Sweet. Hints of chocolate and coffee. Raisin flavor is apparent. Reminds me of a good port wine. I'm getting a touch of nutmeg in the finish that seems to play nicely with the other flavors. The oak aging is very present in the flavor, but is not overpowering

Mouthfeel:     4 out of 5

Thick, like thin cough syrup, but in that good kind of way. Medium carbonation. There is a slight warmth, but this does not feel like you're drinking a 9%. This is one of those that will sneak up on you and club you in the head and steal your wallet. Has a wonderful creaminess.

Overall:     6 out of 10

I would definitely buy this again. I would not call this a session beer, but I could finish two of these in one sitting. This would make an excellent ice cream float. To hell with the guinness ice cream float, this one would bury it. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Current Beer Inventory

Here's a list of my current beer inventory, if you care.  Most of these are just single bottles; bold indicates I have more than one.

Boulevard The Sixth Glass
Chimay Première
Chimay Tripel
Chimay Grande Réserve
(I got the Chimay gift pack)
Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (2012)
Heavy Seas - Below Decks Barley Wine Style Ale
Lagunitas Maximus
Oskar Blues Ten FIDY
St. Bernardus Tripel
St. Bernardus Prior 8
St. Bernardus Abt 12
(and the St. Bernardus gift pack)
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock
Samuel Adams Holiday Porter
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Samuel Adams Winter Lager
(and a Sam Adams Winter Classics 12-pack)
Samuel Smith's India Ale
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
(and a Samuel Smith's gift pack)
Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale
Trappistes Rochefort 10
Victory Yakima Glory

This list is probably more helpful to me than you.  I've currently got nothing from Firestone Walker, Unibroue, Tröegs, Green Flash, Ballast Point, or Evolution?  Hmmm...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca

Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca
8.5% ABV
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
On tap at the Dogfish Head Brewpub, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Served in a snifter glass (approx. 8 oz serving)
Reviewed on 12/27/12 at the brewpub

This beer--another entry in Dogfish Head's "ancient ales" series--is dark amber in color, bubbly, mild but decent lacing with a thin head.

Smell has malt, fruitiness, raisins, caramel.

Taste has cherry, grapes, malt, wine, honey.

Mouthfeel is smooth, wine-like, syrupy.

Overall, this is a good, fruity-wine tasting ale with a nice profile of flavors.  Reminiscent of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch with its wine grape and honey flavors but with more of a dark fruitiness component.  Also reminiscent of Tröegs Mad Elf with its cherry flavor, but definitely more subdued as a beer.  Smooth with no real harshness. I found this one somewhat surprisingly tasty and drinkable, though outside of having on tap at the Rehoboth brewpub, I'm not sure I'm willing to pay the high price for a 750 ml bottle ($12.99 plus tax in my area, and about the same at the brewpub's to-go shop (though it would be tax free there)).

My score: 91