Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Schneider Weisse (Original)

Schneider Weisse (Original)
Brewed by:
Private Weissbierbrauerei 

G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH


Hefeweizen |  5.40% ABV

Pours a very cloudy dark copper with a bright white head. Nice puffy white head but it seems to be diminishing quickly.

Nice aromas of sweet German malts, clove, and just a touch of flowering hops.

Wow, that has more flavors than I expected. Let me try to dissect this a little.

Malt sweetness up front, then a nice carbonation over the tongue then the real malt flavors hit you and before it’s over there is a nice low hop drying effect but the final taste that you are left with is a very pleasant almost caramel malt taste with spice and cloves. That’s a lot of experiences for one mouthful.

There are some nice flavors I this beer. Interesting malt flavors notes of spice and clove, just a very nice tasting beer. And it sill maintains a very refreshing character even with all that going on.  I’ve had several Hefeweizens before but none of them had this much flavor. Before this I thought Hefeweizens with dull chalky and not very flavorful. Boy was I wrong. If this is the original what happened to Hefes.

Well at 63 degrees this beer still has a lot to give. It has lost most of it’s carbonation but the flavors are still impressive with no bitter harshness that some beers get when they warm up.

Well I guess that’s a rap.  

This is an outstanding beer A+.

This is now my new gold standard for Hefeweizens.

I do have to thank Jay, jjrudy41 on YouTube for recommendation.

GABF 2009

The Great American Beer Festival was held last week September 24-26 and the results are in. I  was really surprised by some of the results. There was a good regional showing including Flying Dog from Frederick MD won best Mid-Size Brewing Company of the year.

Here are some of the regional breweries that metalled:

Flying Dog, Frederick, MD
Dogfish Head, Milton, DE
Stoudts, Adamstown, PA
Triumph, Philadelphia, PA
Flying Fish, Cherry Hill, NJ
Iron Hill, Wilmington, DE
Troegs, Harrisburg, PA
McKenzie Brew House, Glen Mills, PA

It’s great to have 8 regional breweries receive top honors in the largest brewing competition in the USA. And it gives me a few more brews to add to my wish list.

The following are some of the interesting results; well I thought they were interesting.

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.
Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Robert Malone

Category: 7 Specialty Beer, 21 Entries
Gold: Chateau Jiahu, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Silver: Palo Santo Marron, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE

Bronze: Drunken Angel, Rock Bottom Brewery - Chicago, Chicago, IL

Category: 10 Session Beer, 27 Entries
Gold: KinderPils, Triumph Brewing Co. of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Silver: Firestone Xtra Pale, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Bronze: Bam Biere, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI

Category: 15 American-Belgo-Style Ale, 51 Entries
Gold: Exit 4, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ
Silver: The Crow and The Sparrow, Rock Bottom Brewery - Chicago, Chicago, IL
Bronze: Temperance, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, Boulder, CO

Category: 18 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 110 Entries
Gold: Cereal Killer Barleywine, Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek, MI
Silver: Barrel Aged Gonzo, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Barrel Aged Baltic Porter, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Inc., Farmville, NC

Category: 32 German Style Märzen, 45 Entries
Gold: Dogtoberfest, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD

Category: 36 German Style Schwarzbier, 34 Entries
Gold: Schwarzbier, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Wilmington, DE

Silver: Schwarzbier, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Dark Helmet, Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI

Category: 37 Bock, 40 Entries
Gold: Troegenator, Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA

Silver: May Bock, Backcountry Brewery, Frisco, CO
Bronze: Fornicator, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category: 38 German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 21 Entries

Gold: The Kaiser, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Silver: Samuel Adams Double Bock, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Bronze: Carbonator, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO

Category: 41 German Style Kölsch, 43 Entries
Gold: Kolsch, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Silver: Clearwater Kolsch, Ram Restaurant & Brewery (2), Tacoma, WA
Bronze: Stoudts Kolsch, Stoudt Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA

Category: 53 Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter, 47 Entries
Gold: ESB, Redhook Ales - Woodinville, Woodinville, WA
Silver: Motorboat ESB, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA
Bronze: Colorado Boy IPA, Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Ridgway, CO
I can’t believe Redhook over Stoudts Scarlet Lady there should be a recount!

Category: 63 French- and Belgian Style Saison, 56 Entries

Gold: Saison Vautour, McKenzie Brew House, Glen Mills, PA
Silver: Belgian Summer Ale, Great Adirondack Brewing Co., Lake Placid, NY
Bronze: Saison Du Bastone, Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI

Category: 66 Belgian-Style Abbey Ale, 58 Entries
Gold: Signature Dubbel, Choc Beer Co., Krebs, OK
Silver: Tripel, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Bronze: Deschutes Brewery Quad, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
I just recommended Allagash Tripel to someone this week.

Category: 72 American-Style Stout, 22 Entries
Gold: Liberty Stout, Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co., Hays, KS
Silver: Troegs Dead Reckoning, Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA
Bronze: Stonefly Oatmeal Stout, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA

Category: 75 Imperial Stout, 56 Entries
Gold: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Silver: Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC

To see all the winners go to

It's great to have so many good regional breweries available to you. Sorry Ken.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Captain Rude's Blackwater Stout

Captain Rude's 
Blackwater Stout

Swashbuckler Brewing Co.
PA RenFaire

Manheim, PA

English Oatmeal Stout

Well this week’s grower is the Swashbuckler Oatmeal Stout.

Pours totally opaque “Stout Black” with a very rich tan head. Looks like the head will stick around for a while.

Nice stout aromas on the nose. Very sweet dark roasted malts, chocolate, nutty aromas with maybe even a little vanilla. There is just a hint of hops.

Hmm, Interesting first taste, not quite what I expected. I was taken a little off guard. From the nose I was expecting a sweet roasted malt start and when I didn’t get that it through me off for the rest of the taste. Sorry let me try this again.

The start is roasted malt for sure but not sweet it’s strong dark malt almost bitter then a little sweetness and finally a very rich malt bitterness not a hoppy bitterness a very rich roasted almost charred or burnt flavor. And you are left with that classic lingering roasted malt flavor that has just coated your tongue.

The head has diminished to just a thin film on top of the beer with a nice ring around the top of the glass. It is also leaving some nice lacing on the glass.

Well the more I drink this the more I like it. Maybe I’m just getting use to the rich roasted malts. The beer is now at 65 degrees and it’s getting smoother with every sip.

Well the second glass is even better. It’s still a little harsher then I remember it to be from a tasting in May. There is a very intense malt flavor in this beer. It is actually similar to several of the malty tastes from other beers from this brewery. I just don’t know enough about this to identify what this is. I’ve been thinking it’s the roasted English malts but I really don’t know, yet.

The third was even better. Even the last bit that was at room temperature was still pretty good.

I am enjoying this but I’m not going to rate it. I don’t think this grower is a fair sampling of this beer. This is a very robust stout but I don’t remember it being this robust at their beer tasting back in May.

If you at the Pa RenFaire and you like a robust stout stop by the Swashbuckler for a fresh pint of Captain Rude's Blackwater Stout.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

Brewed By:
Brauerei Aying


Märzen / Oktoberfest

5.8% ABV

Well when I got home form work today and found out what Kathy was cooking for dinner I knew what beer I was going to have. Kathy was cooking Pork Tenderloin Cuts covered with apples, pineapple and brown sugar. Served with brown buttered egg noodles and pees, well we can almost for get about the pees. It just screamed Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen; what your food doesn’t cry out for a good beer. The problem was how to review it at the dinner table. There is not really enough room for a laptop on the table. So I resorted to a few index cards and a pencil.

So here goes my first food pairing and review.

The Review:
Pours a light copper with almost orange hues and a nice off white head.

Sweat German caramel malts on the nose. There is also an almost fruity aspect, not citrus but almost grape-like or apple. There is very little to no hop aromas; well that’s what may be contributing to some of the fruity aromas, a flowering hop presence.

Light malt flavors then a nice clean carbonation over the tongue followed by a very pleasant almost sweet light hop dry finish. Wow what a clean refreshing and tasty beer. There is a fruity almost apple taste to this beer. This seems unusual to me for a lager to have these sweet fruity notes.

This was an exquisite pairing. The sweet fruit and brown sugar on the meal blended nicely with similar flavors in the beer. But the beer had just enough carbonation and dry finish to almost cleanse your entire palate for the next bite of food. They complement each other so much you can’t help but going back and forth, almost every bit of food followed a sip of beer or every sip of beer followed a bite of food. This was better then the Oatmeal Stout for breakfast.

OK Dinner is over and I’m back on a computer with my half empty glass of beer. As you can probably tell by now these reviews are not rushed. I may take a half hour or more just on one glass to capture the whole character development of the brew or the lack there of.

I was expecting a little more character from this beer but maybe that’s because I’ve been drinking the American Craft Beer versions of this style. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent beer and I am enjoying it immensely.

Wow as this beer warms up and opens up a little it just gets better. The high carbonation has diminished which leaves you with more of those smooth sweet caramel malts; very nice beer.

With all this babbling the beer is now at 70 Degrees and I can’t explain how good it still is. I don’t think any of the American Oktoberfest beers held up like this; just outstanding. I only have one of these and I hate to see it finally gone.

I just had this beer at a German Beer Tasting and thought it was pretty good. But when you can drink, no, not just drink but completely enjoy, a beer at 70 degrees it’s not just good it’s phenomenal.
Outstanding A+ for Ayinger Oktoberfest.

Now I’m going to have tasting/reviewing dilemma. I know there are American Oktoberfest beers that actually have more flavor then this, like the Dogtoberfest Marzen from Flying Dog. But I can’t imagine any of them tasting this good, now at 73 degrees. Maxwell House has nothing on this one; “Good To The Last Warm Drop”!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Score! On Some Pumpkin Ales

Well I stopped off at my usual beer store, State Line Liquors, like I do on most Friday’s after work. I had my fall beer wish list with me, what you don’t have a fall beer wish list? So I’m picking up some German Oktoberfest and a few other German brews. As I made my way back to the domestic section I saw a variety case on the floor. I didn’t even look at it I just put it into the cart, well I did notice that it was $35.00 so I put back a few other beers, really, I did. I know Robert Murray the owner fairly well so I know I could trust whatever he put into the variety case but I assumed it was fall seasonal beers. Similar to what he did this time last year.

Well when I got home and opened the case, to my surprise, low and behold, PUMPKIN ALES! 12 different pumpkin ales 2 each. It looks like there are only two of them that I’ve already had this year and 4 of them where on my Fall Wish List. You really should get one of those.

The hilarious part about this is that just two weeks before this I had a conversation with Robert about his fall variety case. I jokingly suggested for him to put a case of Pumpkin Ales together for me. So when I opened up the case I was just in stitches. I had no idea he actually listened to me, no one ever does that.

So here is a preview of some upcoming Pumpkin Ale Reviews, in no particular order. Except for the ones I’ve already done, maybe I’ll share them with someone.

Punkin' Ale
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton DE
Pumpkin Ale |  7.00% ABV

Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Easton, PA
Pumpkin Ale |  8.00% ABV

Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, New York
Pumpkin Ale |  5.00% ABV

Pumpkinhead Ale
Brewed by:
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Portland, Maine
Pumpkin Ale |  4.50% ABV

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
Buffalo Bill's Brewery
Hayward, California,
Pumpkin Ale |  5.20% ABV

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
Pumpkin Ale |  6.00% ABV

Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale
Brewed by:
Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Pumpkin Ale |  5.50% ABV

Saranac Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
The Matt Brewing Company
Utica, New York
Pumpkin Ale |  5.40% ABV

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout
Brewed by:
Cape Ann Brewing Company
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Pumpkin Ale |  6.75% ABV

Wolaver's Will Stevens' Pumpkin Ale
Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
Middlebury, Vermont
Pumpkin Ale |  5.35 % ABV

Arcadia Jaw-Jacker
Brewed by:
Arcadia Brewing Company
Battle Creek, Michigan
Herbed / Spiced Beer |  6.00% ABV

Punk'n Ale
Brewed by:
Four + Brewing Company
Salt Lake City, Utah
Pumpkin Ale |  4.00% ABV

Old Chub

Oskar Blues
Old Chub
Scottish Style Ale

Brewed by:
Oskar Blues 

Grill & Brewery
Lyons, Colorado

Scottish Ale |  8.00% ABV

This ale pours a very dark amber almost brown with a rich off white almost tan head. Clear but almost completely opaque with reddish hues.

Nice dark roosted malts on the nose almost stout like. There are those classic rich nutty   toasted malt aromas maybe even a touch of chocolate.

Wow, did that just come out of a can?
Very rich malty flavors in this beer it taste even better then it smells.
The head diminished to just a patchy island in the center of the glass but a nice ring around the glass and some pretty impressive lacing.

Sweet caramel taste upfront with a very pleasant smooth and creamy mouth feel and a very nice light hop drying finish. This is a nice Scottish Ale. And at 8% it has a little bit of a kick also. This may be classified as a strong Scottish Ale at 8%. I still can’t believe this exquisite beer came out of a can.

Even as this beer warms up it just keeps getting better. Now at 65 degrees it is still as smooth as it was when first poured.

Well that was so good I’ll have to have another one as I work on my final thoughts.

I am just astonished with this brew. This is an excellent Scottish Ale but it also has a bit of an American twist in the hop taste. It’s not hoppy at all it is just a perfect blend of hops to give you a dry finish to the back end of the caramel malts. Heavier Scottish Ales are known as a Wee Heavy. At 8% this is even a little wee heavy for a Wee Heavy.

I can’t find anything unpleasant about this beer. Plus it came out of a CAN! Boy this just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover or a beer by its container.

This is the first time I’ve had the Old Chub but I’ve been a big fan of Oskar Blues for some time now. Their Ten Fidy (Imperial Stout) and the Dales Pale Ale are highly recommended. Just don’t pay any attention to that can.

Plankwalker’s IPA

Plankwalker’s IPA

Swashbuckler Brewing Co.

PA RenFaire

Manheim, PA

Well I’m not sure how I like my oldest daughter being a Leather Wench at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire but I do like that she brings home a new brew every week from the Swashbuckler Brew Pup. This weeks Brew is their IPA.

This beer pours a nice copper almost amber with a slight orange hue and a very nice looking off white head.

There is a nice pleasant hop aroma on the nose, not as strong hop smell that I would expect from an IPA more of an English hop, subtle, sweet and flowering hop aroma. There is something different in the nose of this beer, can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s kind of an earthy and malty aroma, very interested, it may be English malts. Let’s see what it tastes like.

Wow, very hoppy but not quite overpowering. I thought it would start with a malty sweetness but the first thing I got was a hop bitterness then a little malty sweetness and then another type of hop bitterness with a final rather dry finish. Very unusual to actually detect different hops all in the same sip, maybe that’s the way a good IPA is suppose to taste. As I’ve said before I’m not a hop head and IPA’s are not my favorite style of beer. But I do appreciate a well crafted beer of any style and this is a well crafted beer.

I have never had a beer with this much hop complexity, usually the hops blend together into one taste but with this beer I can distinctly taste different bitterness’s.

It’s not all bitterness either there is a malty aspect to this beer, almost an English malt flavor. It’s a good thing I have a grower of this beer so I can try to figure it out over a few more glasses.

The head diminished to just a nice ring around the top of the glass and thin layer over beer and it is leaving some nice lacing.

This beer has me very confused I’ve never had an IPA like this before. I went to the website to look it up. The only thing on the website is that it’s a West Coast Style IPA. Well at this point that doesn’t mean much to me. I guess that’s the typical American IPA. I have a lot of homework to do on hops and IPA’s in general. 

Well the second turned into the third so I must be enjoying this IPA. This is one hoppy beer; there is no doubt about that. It does however have a malt character also. Not bad for an American IPA, bitter for sure but some malt flavors in the background. This is opposite of the beers that I normally like. I normally like a more malty beer with a slight hoppy finish. This is hops all the way with just a little bit of malt on the end.

Not bad overall, better then most American IPA’s. If you are at the PA RenFaire and like a hoppy brew stop by the Swashbuckler Brew Pup for the Plankwalker’s IPA - West Coast Style India Pale Ale. Take if from someone that doesn’t care much for IPA’s; this is pretty good, better then most. I have brush up on my hops and IPA’s to effectively rate a beer like this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lancaster Milk Stout

Lancaster Milk Stout

Brewed by:
Lancaster Brewing Company
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Milk Stout  5.30% ABV

Later this winter during Stout Season I will probably have a separate posting on all the stout styles but for now here is my take on Milk Stout. Milk stouts do not have milk in them but they do have added sugars that are not consumed by the yeast; mainly lactose. So these left over lactose sugars give this style stout a very sweet and creamy mouth feel and taste, along of course with all the traditional heavy roasted malt flavors that you have in all stouts. So when you see milk stout expect a sweet creamy stout.

Pours a very dark completely opaque brown almost black, “Stout Black” as some would say. There may be just a hint of reddish light on the bottom edge of the glass. This beer also produced a nice thick and fairly creamy tan head.

It is very sweet on the nose. There are still those classic roasted malt aromas but there is a definite sweetness also. Chocolate, nutty, dark roasted caramel aromas penetrate out through that thick creamy head.

Oh, smooth, sweet and somewhat refreshing for a full bodied beer. This is a very nice Milk Stout. There is nothing over the top just a well crafted stout.

Your mouth is just coated with dark roasted malt flavors then there is an almost drying effect but you are left with lingering sweet malty taste. It’s a very thick and creamy mouth feel.

As it warms up it gains a little harshness that wasn’t noticeable when it was colder. It’s still a good beer but it’s just not as smooth as it was earlier.

The beer is over 60 degrees now and it’s still a good drinkable beer. The more I drink it the more I want to take back the harshness comment. It is not really harsh it’s a heartier malt flavor. Something like a roasted malt bite or bitterness. It’s not unpleasant at all but it also isn’t as smooth as it was.

All and all it’s not a bad brew from Lancaster Brewing Co. in Lancaster PA. Not the best Milk Stout but certainly not the worst either. It's certainly well above above average; I’d give it a B-.

This would be a good starter beer for anyone that is looking to try a Milk Stout. The only real problem is that Lancaster Brewing has a very small distribution so this beer may be hard to find outside of Southeastern PA and surrounding area.

And Yes, It makes a perfect Breakfast Beer!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Titan IPA

Titan IPA

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company

Denver, Colorado

American IPA 6.80% ABV

It pours a clear copper with almost orange hues and a very rich off white head. The head looks like it will stick around for a while and leave some good lacing. The beer is also nicely carbonated with a good amount of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Very hoppy nose with some caramel malt sweetness but the most noticeable aroma is the hops.

Wow that was a surprising first sip. Sweet caramel malts up front with an almost nutty background then you have a very present clean drying finish and finally the hops hit you from behind. I was expecting this to be all hops and just a little maltiness but not the case. This is an excellently balanced IPA. Very smooth up front and a nice bitty hop finish that does not overpower the beer.

The head has diminished to a nice protective layer over the top of the beer and it has left some very impressive lacing on the sides of the glass.

Boy am I surprised with this brew. Even the final aftertaste if you will, is a nice blend of malt sweetness and hops. Typically I find American IPA’s so hoppy that’s all you are left with is a lingering bitter hoppiness. This has a very pleasant finish, nicely balanced and quite enjoyable. Let’s see how it fares after it warms up a little.

It just keeps getting better; this is a very smooth and rich IPA. This is my kind of IPA with high IBU’s but also with a great malt counterbalance that is just superb. This is bordering on an Imperial IPA but I don’t think it has the alcohol content of an Imperial. It also does not have that intenseness of an Imperial/Double IPA. Wow what a pleasant surprise and what an excellent beer. This is a very drinkable IPA. It may be pushing the limits of malts and hops for some but it is very enjoyable.

I’m not a hop head. Generally I find most American IPA’s just too bitter to enjoy; well at least to enjoy more then one. Sometimes a beer can be so hopped up it’s almost a burning or scratching feeling left behind. I was kind of expecting that from this beer but boy was I astonished at what I got. This was just a beer left over in the beer fridge that my daughter bought during the week with some pumpkin ales. I really was not planning on reviewing it but it was a nice Sunday afternoon so I thought I would give it a try. I’m sure glad I did. I may have found my favorite IPA.

This is Excellent an A+ in my book for an American IPA. Wow just outstanding. If all IPA’s tasted like this I would be proud to call myself a Hophead. This is a must try for anyone looking for a full flavored beer with a good bite to it but is still mild enough to be refreshing and enjoyable.

Another great brew from Great Divide; this is just a notch or two down the intensity meter from their Imperial IPA, Hercules. Anything much more than this and you are looking at a sipping beer. This is still very easy to drink and such a flavorful beer, Hat’s off to Great Divide.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What’s for Breakfast?

So you’re having a nice fall breakfast but you just can’t decide on the beverages. What goes with a hearty breakfast of Bacon, Scrapple, Cream Chip Beef on Toast, and Apple Fritters? Well, coffee and orange juice for sure but what a about that over breakfast beverage? Lancaster Milk Stout! Yeah that’s right, beer for breakfast! Not just any beer but a milk stout is a perfect pairing with breakfast meats like scrapple and bacon. It also lends its self well to cream chip beef on toast.

Milk stout has a good amount of sugars that the yeast does not consume mainly lactose; so it is a very sweet and creamy stout.

And just incase Missy may think I'm joking here is a picture of my Sunday Breakfast plate.

As soon as Kathy came home from the market with scrapple I knew what I was going to have with it for breakfast; Milk Stout. Oh yes in deed, the breakfast of champions was had this morning.

I’ll be posting a separate review on the Lancaster Milk Stout.

Brooklyn Oktoberfest Beer

Oktoberfest Beer

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, New York

Märzen / Oktoberfest 5.50% ABV

Pours a very nice looking clear copper with reddish hues and a very rich off white head a little soapy but mostly a nice and creamy. This beer also has good carbonation rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Wow, nice clean fresh notes on the nose. Mostly caramel malts fairly sweet and just a hint of hops. It really smells good nothing outrageous just a nice pleasant smelling beer.

Ok I usually hold Brooklyn to a higher standard so I may end up being too critical on this one.

You start with a nice malty sweetness good carbonation and a drying finish but there is something else on the back end of this. Still smooth and very enjoyable but there is something else there that is catching me off guard. This is a similar taste that I get in several German beers. This may just be the normal aftertaste of the German malts.

The head has diminished but it is leaving impressive lacing on the glass.

The more I drink this beer the more I think that taste on the finish is the German Malts. There is also with a slight hop bitterness. It’s not a sweet malt finish like you get from a Belgian Ale it’s more of toasted malt flavor with just a little bit of bitterness.

Well it’s now at 64 degrees and still a pretty darn good beer. I am getting more accustomed to the malty bitterness in the finish. It was never bad tasting it was just a confusing taste that I didn’t expect.

The good news is that my lovely wife bought me a six pack of this so I’m going to have another one of these bad boys and think about my overall impression.

The second beer is more enjoyable. Not that the first one wasn’t but I’m not overanalyzing this one just relaxing and enjoying it. This is a very easy drinking and refreshing beer. It has a very pleasant carbonation good flavors and it’s not a very heavy beer. Just a nice enjoyable fall brew.

This is a good Oktoberfest. It’s not the most flavorful Oktoberfest I’ve had but it is very good, B for sure.

Post Review Notes:
I just had this beer with my dinner. It was a great pairing with Johnsonville Beer Brats, Cheeseburgers and Fries. It was very refreshing and easy to drink with a meal. This is a very good Oktoberfest beer and goes great with a meal. I didn’t want to leave you with the impression that this wasn’t a good beer. I was just a little over critical on the review.

Punk, Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale

Dogfish Head
Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton, Delaware

Pumpkin Ale 7.00% ABV

Pours a nice copper color with reddish amber hues. The head is off white and quite soapy. The head also diminished very quickly but has left a nice ring around the sides of the class. This beer also has nice carbonation, lots of tiny little bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

The nose is hops and spices more spice then anything. I really can’t pick up anything else on the nose mostly pumpkin spices cinnamon mostly and some hops.

Well that’s a lot of spice. Not terribly over spiced but more then Harvest Moon or Post Road. There is also something else, something I can’t quite grasp in the finish of this beer. Let me try this again.

So you start with a slight sweetness but not your typical malt sweetness more of a pumpkin sweetness, then a nice carbonation over the tongue but then there is that finish that I’m having a hard time describing. Spicy for sure maybe some hops but there is something else I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it may actually be from real pumpkin but it is bordering on the unpleasant.

As this beer warms and opens up it gets easier to drink well at least you get more accustomed to the spiciness but it doesn’t get any better.

Sorry this is probably the worse review I have ever done. This was not a bad beer I’m just having a hard time describing the finish.

Well overall it’s a drinkable Pumpkin Ale, not the best and certainly not the worst. I really did expect something better from Dogfish Head. It was spicy up front but a very odd finish that just was not very good. So far this is my least liked Pumpkin Ale I’ve had this season. It’s early yet so I’m sure I’ll have worse ones then this. I would take Post Road, Harvest Moon and this one in that order so far this year.

So I can’t say that I would recommend this Pumpkin Ale. It’s not bad I just didn’t think it was very good. Spicy for sure but lacking something. I don’t know enough yet to tell you want it’s lacking but there is something odd about it. Maybe next year Dogfish Head.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale

Harvest Moon
Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by:
Blue Moon Brewing
Coors Brewing Company (MillerCoors)

Golden, Colorado

Pumpkin Ale 5.60% ABV

Pours a nice amber reddish copper color with an off white head. The head is pretty thick but somewhat soapy. The head also diminished fairly quickly, just a nice ring around the sides of the glass and a patchy island in the center.

The nose is a nice American Amber, fairly rich in malt aromas with some spicy notes and just the hint of hops, well after a gentle swirl there is more of a hop presents.

Nice carbonation fresh and clean tasking beer with just a hint of pumpkin spice. As a matter of fact if you where not thinking that this was a pumpkin ale you may miss it. I actually like this style of pumpkin ale; it’s a good amber ale first with some pumpkin spice second, Not bad for Coors.

The taste starts with a nice malt sweetness then the tingling of the carbonation over the tongue followed up with a nice hop drying finish then you are finally left with some cinnamon/pumpkin spice. Not too much just hint of spice.

The beer is now 66 degrees and it is still impressively smooth. Even at this temperature there are no unpleasant flavors coming out of this beer. Good to the last drop. Coors could easily market this beer as an American Amber. It’s a smooth easy drinking amber ale, nothing very noticeable about it (including pumpkin) but more importantly there was nothing unpleasant about it either.

For an American Amber Ale this was a very good beer but for a pumpkin Ale it is really lacking pumpkin flavors. Now I stated earlier that I like a more subtle pumpkin spice in my Pumpkin Ale but this one was a little too subtle, some may even say non existent.

If you want to try a Pumpkin Ale but didn’t want to get one of those liquefied pumpkin pies than this would be a good pumpkin ale to start with. Like I said there is nothing unpleasant about this beer it’s just lacking that little extra that you would expect in a Pumpkin Ale. A very good easy drinking American Amber.

Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

Houblon Chouffe
Dobbelen IPA Tripel

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Achouffe

Belgian IPA 9.00% ABV

This is more of a discussion rather than a review. I’ve drank too much of this beer over the last few days to give it a fresh review but it is worth talking about none the less.

Every once in a while a brew comes along that is so unique it generates a new category. This is one of those beers that broke the mold. The Houblon Chouffe is truly one of the most unique beers in the world. It is a classic Belgian Tripel inspired by the American IPA. The first of its kind on several fronts, an American inspired Belgian, and a whole new category of beer now referred to a Belgian IPA. The Houblon Chouffe maintained all the great qualities of a Belgian Tripel but it is a very hoppy beer similar in IBU’s International Bittering Units as an American IPA. Best of all, it works well for this beer. This beer has all the classic Tripel aspects, the hops are not overpowering but you are left with a dry hoppy finish. I am not a hop head and a great fan of all the classic Belgian styles and this beer works for me. I think mainly because the hops are not overpowering like some American IPA’s; the Houblon Chouffe is an excellently balanced beer. This brew is truly a unique experience; the best of both worlds.

Now there are several other American counterparts that have not fared so well but maybe it’s better to discuss that in a separate post. The whole concept of a Belgian IPA is a bit of an oxymoron. Belgians are malty by nature, very malty with a very little hop presence. So as a beer purist it just doesn’t seem right to hop up a beer that is traditionally and purposely brewed with a low in hop presence. Well I better stop here and post on Belgian IPA’s in a future post.

Well at any rate this Houlbon Chouffe is an awesome beer experience. The Houblon Chouffe is an excellent Belgian Tripel that has a very impressive hoppy finish, not overpowering just a nice hoppy bite on the finish. I highly recommend this beer if you like Belgian Tripels or if you like beers with just a little more bite to them. A very unique world class beer with a funny name: Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel; Belgian Tripel meats American IPA, who would a thunk it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Post Road
Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, New York
Pumpkin Ale 

5.00% ABV

The Review:Pours a beautiful copper color with some orange hues and a very impressive off white head. The head is very creamy with just a few soapy bubbles mixed in but mostly a nice creamy head.
The head diminished fairly quickly to just a nice protective film on the top with a 1/8th inch ring around the top of the glass. Looks like it should leave some lacing.
The beer is very clear with good carbonation, lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Oh those are some nice aromas coming out of this beer. Nice sweet and spicy notes. Pumpkin spices for sure but not overpowering you can still pick up some toasted malts, caramel and just a little flowering hop presents. I kid you not; my mount is watering just thinking about tasting this brew. So here we go.

Wow that’s even better then it smells. Boy I’m going to have a hard time describing this one to you. Its smooth rich creamy refreshing spicy and so much more. Let me try to dissect this.

You start with a sweet taste then a tingly feeling as the carbonation roles over your tongue, as soon as that starts to fade you are just filled with a very pleasant pumpkin spicy flavors and just when you don’t think your mouth could sense anything more you get the most pleasing hop bitterness that’s just enough to leave a fairly dry finish and a craving the next sip. The complete after taste that you are left with is somewhat malty with a nice spicy tingle on the tip of your tongue.

This is just a very impressive Pumpkin Ale. Some of the pumpkin ales on the market are just too pumpkiny if you know what I mean; it’s like drinking a liquefied pumpkin pie. This Post Road version is a well crafted amber ale first and a pumpkin beer second. It has all of those great ale qualities, nice malts with the ale yeast leaving nice volatiles and esters to cherish, good carbonation that makes it very refreshing and behind all of that is an exquisite pumpkin spice that blends in with the beer not overpowering the beer. Sorry I just can’t say enough about how great I think this beer is.

The beer is now at 64 degrees, the head is down to just a few clusters or islands but there is till a nice ring around the top at the edge of the glass. There is some lacing but not very much.

Oh, it just keeps getting better as it opens up and warms up a little. It actually seems smoother now. Maybe that’s from losing some of its carbonation, although there are still tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Clean crisp and refreshing with a nice pumpkin spice in the background. I don’t know but this may be the perfect Pumpkin Ale for me. Well it is all a matter of personal taste and some may like that soupy liquefied pumpkin pie stuff. But I think this is it for me. This may be my Pumpkin Ale gold standard to which I compare everyone else. And this is my first pumpkin ale of the season.

Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Ales

What a pleasant surprise, to come home from work to find out that our daughter bought you two different Pumpkin Ales to try. So it looks like I’m jumping head first into this great fall beer season. Since I’m going to review a few pumpkin ales here is my take on that style of ale.

This style of beer has a sorted history; part urban legend and part newly re-visited Craft beer lure. Some of the folk lure has pumpkin ale widely brewed in the American Colonies and everyone form George Washington to Ben Franklin had a recipe for this style of ale.

The earliest recorded recipe for Pumpkin Ale is found in the February 1771 American Philosophical Society publication that was founded by Benjamin Franklin, so some of the lure may be true. Some of the lure also feeds off of the fact that beer was brewed from a wide variety of sources and that it was probably costly to import barley malt for the brewing of beer. Pumpkins and squash-like plants could be used as substitute for the typical malt.

At any rate it wasn't until the recent revolution of the craft beer movement that pumpkin ales became a highly-desired specialty beer. Released in the fall pumpkin ales vary widely on taste and format. Some are simple amber ales with a hint of pumpkin or pumpkin spice and others are like drinking a liquefied spicy pumpkin pie. The recipes and flavoring also vary with uses of real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger etc.

Because of the wide variety in style it’s hard to say whether you like it or not depending on which ones you have tried. Just to let you know I’ve been sampling pumpkin beers for several years and still not really sure I like them. Oh I like some of them, a lot, but not sure how much a like the overall style of beer.

This year I’ve even seen a few high test Imperial Pumpkin Ales so they just keep getting more and more creative with these Pumpkin Ales. I’m sure I’ll have several different ones this season to review so you will know which ones are good, well at least which ones I like anyway. And you should be able to tell which ones are real spicy. Like all things with beer it’s a matter of personal taste; hint of spice or a lot of spice that’s the question. Only you have the correct answer.

Here is the style definition from

Pumpkin Ale

Often released as a fall seasonal, Pumpkin Ales are quite varied. Some brewers opt to add hand-cut pumpkins and drop them in the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. These beers also tend to be spiced with pumpkin pie spices, like: ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Pumpkin Ales are typically mild, with little to no bitterness, a malty backbone, with some spice often taking the lead. Many will contain a starchy, slightly thick-ish, mouthfeel too. In our opinion, best versions use real pumpkin, while roasting the pumpkin can also add tremendous depth of character for even better results, though both methods are time-consuming and tend to drive brewmasters insane.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest

Brewed by:
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Märzen / Oktoberfest
5.10% ABV

Pours nice reddish amber, dark copper very clear with a nice rich creamy but somewhat soapy head. Nicely carbonated with tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

The head didn’t stick around very long but that’s pretty much expected for a lager.

There are nice aromas coming from this beer. You can pick up some toasted caramel malts a nice hops. There is also some spice on the nose of this beer. It has a much better smell than the Sam Adams Octoberfest I had yesterday.

That’s a nice Oktoberfest. It has a nice malt flavor, good carbonation for a fresh clean mouth feel and a very nice and unique finish. The finish is a nice combination of malt and spice and hops, very pleasant. This is an all-around nice Oktoberfest.

The head I just about totally gone just a slight ring left on top around the edge of the glass.

Wow, now at 68 degrees this beer is just as good as when I first poured it. It is not as refreshing; a little less carbonated but there is nothing offensive or unpleasant in the taste of this warm beer. What makes this even more impressive is that it’s a lager. You can expect an ale to still taste good warm but it unusual to find a good tasting warm lager.

I am very impressed with this beer. Not that it’s that phenomenal, but it was totally unexpected. I really did not expect Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest to be this good.

Even the last drop at 72 degrees was still a very good tasting beer. And Yes, (Missy), just incase you where wondering I really do use a digital thermometer.

As we start a much anticipated fall beer season it’s a pleasant surprise to stumble on such a nice beer. This was a very satisfying Oktoberfest. I also just noticed that Leinenkugel calls this an Oktoberfest Marzen. I’m not sure if the mean that literally or if they mean Marzen in style. A real Oktoberfest Marzen is brewed in March and lagered (cold storage) until the fall.

Well for a rating I have to go a little low, for an Oktoberfest Marzen a C+ Maybe even a B-. For a nice drinkable amber lager this would get and A. This is a very good beer but there are a lot better Oktoberfest Marzens out there.

If you are looking for a good refreshing fall beer that has just a little bit more character than your typical lager try this Oktoberfest from Leinenkugel. It’s not the best Oktoberfest but it is a very pleasant and easy drinking beer. An excellent Amber Lager for sure.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Samuel Adams

Brewed By:
Boston Beer Company
Boston, Massachusetts

Märzen / Oktoberfest

5.70% ABV

Pours a nice rich amber somewhat reddish, clear with an off white head. The initial head was very rich a little soapy. It looked like it was going to stray for a long time but it diminished to just a thin film on the top of the beer in a very short time.

The nose has some nice malts and hops aromas in it. Not the typical grainy smell of a lager but a richer caramel malt aromas with just a little hop bitterness sneaking in.

Highly carbonated somewhat refreshing but with an unpleasant finish. This is very disappointing, not a very good Oktoberfest at all. It’s not a really bad tasking beer but it’s not a very good beer either. There is a little more spice in this above what you would find in a standard amber lager. But behind all the good qualities of this beer is a very unpleasant almost metallic after taste.

Wow, I was really hoping that this would get better as it opened up but it’s not. This is an extremely disappointing Oktoberfest.

I wish I knew more about brewing beer so I could explain what this unpleasant taste is. It’s almost metallic but not quite. Sorry just can’t put my finger on it but it is very common in American lagers from the macro’s to Yuengling.

I guess I just expected more from Sam Adams. This is not a well crafted micro brew beer. Sam Adams has and should do a better job on this. This is at least the third year in a row I’ve noticed the quality of the Sam Adams Octoberfest decline. I was convinced 3 years ago that this was a very good Oktoberfest. Not as good as some of the German’s but a very good American version. Not the case at all with this one.

There are a lot of standard American lagers that are better than this beer let alone that this is suppose to be a very well aged and delightful brew.

As an Amber Lager I would give it a C at best. As an Oktoberfest it’s a D, and that’s being generous.


Well the latest trip to the beer store makes it apparent; “Tis The Season”, no, not that season, it’s Oktoberfest Season. Yes, beers have seasons; well at least they do in the craft beer world that I live in. We are just starting one of those seasons, a nice Bavarian one, the Oktoberfest season. This is the first of several that will take us through the much awaited fall and winter beer seasons. Oh I can’t wait, say goodbye to the Summer Ales and the Shandy’s its time to get ready for some great seasonal brews. Just around the corner are Pumpkin Ales, Imperial Stouts and Porters, Winter Warmers and those great Christmas beers from all over the world, and it all starts with the Oktoberfest.

So here is my take on the first of many great fall and winter brews the Oktoberfest.

The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 18, 1810: For the commemoration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Over the centuries it changed to a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September (and running to early October).

More importantly, to me, it signifies a style of beer, mainly the Oktoberfest Marzen. This style of beer was originally brewed in March (Marzen) and lagered or stored in cold storage (deep in a cellar) though the summer until the fall which also coincided with the Oktoberfest. Now-a-days there are only a few German breweries that actually brew in March and store or age the brew until the fall. Most brewers mimic the rich flavors and character of the Oktoberfest Marzen without the aging process.

All Oktoberfest beers are not Marzens and all Marzens are not Oktoberfest beers. There are verities of Marzens since most beers back in the day in Germany could not be brewed in the summer heat. So March was basically the end of the brewing season and then it started up again when the weather cooled.

In modern times these are just nostalgic beer terms. But there really is an Oktoberfest season for craft beers and we are just getting into it. Normally these beers are released starting at the end of August through October. So we are just starting to see the August releases in the stores about now.

Typically these beers are fuller bodied then your typical lager. They are richer with a toasty malt characteristic, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content, 5 to 7% ABV. They sometimes seem to have a spicier character also, I don’t know if they are brewed with extra spice or if that comes from the toasted malts. A malty lager for sure but not as malty as a dunkel bock or some of the maltier Bavarian wheat ales like a Dunkelweizen or a Weizenbock. They typically stay in that range that you would consider an easy drinking or refreshing beer. An Oktoberfest beer is definitely a notch above your typical lager.

I have two Oktoberfest reviews that I’m editing now and I’m sure there’ll be more to come. I’m going to a German Beer tasting on Thursday so I’m sure I’ll pick up something good to review there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Company
Escondido, California

Russian Imperial Stout

10.50% ABV

Update 01-19-2010

Commercial Description:
"There's no question that Stone Imperial Stout is revered among enthusiasts," states Stone CEO Greg Koch. "I know, because I'm one of 'em and I can hardly wait for it to come out each year!" Some may think that a late Spring release for a special brew of this sort is an odd time for it to come out onto the market. Koch justifies this with the rationalization "What better than a warm time of year to come out with a brew that tastes great as it warms up!" That's because "ice cold" is certainly not the appropriate way to serve the beer. Nearly without exception, the darker, richer and more alcoholic a brew is, the warmer the serving temperature should be. The Stone Imperial Stout label describes the brew as being "intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate...expect this mysterious brew to pour like used motor oil and taste even heavier! Serve at 55 degrees."

General Pricing:
22oz Bottle,  ~$6 to $8

I guess I should comment on what an Imperial Russian Stout is. So here is my short rundown on stouts.
A stout is really a strong Porter, a “Stout” Porter. Eventually the porter name was dropped and these were just known as Stouts.

Imperial Stout:
Back in the day when England was shipping stouts and porters to the czars in Russia the beers were spoiling in the heat along the long shipping route around Africa. So in order to keep these beers from spoiling they make them stronger in alcohol to reserve them on the journey. I would assume that the Czars also liked the warming effect of these beers. Hence the name Imperial Russian Stout or sometimes you will see Russian Imperial Stout. You can safely bet that any time you see “Imperial” in a beer name it has a higher alcohol content.

The Review:
Pours black, solid black completely opaque there may be a slight tinge of some color on the bottom of the glass but it is black, Stout Black as some would say. It produced a dark rich tan head very thick and creamy.

The nose is DARK ROASTED MALTS. That classic stout dark, some chocolate, almond notes as well. Very alluring I can’t wait to dive into this one.

WOW, that’s a stout! Very rich and creamy, your tongue is just coated with rich roasted malts, caramel, thick rich and creamy by the time you get to the swallow you can feel the alcohol as it leaves a very warming finish. You are still left with that lingering roasted malt taste as most stout’s will do but you can feel the warmth down to your chest. Gee and that was all from the first sip.

The head is down to a thin but dense coating on the top of the beer with lacing on the glass that is extremely impressive. You can clearly see how much beer was consumed with each sip by the rings of lacing left on the glass.

This is a big beer at 10.5% ABV. This is one I’m going to take a while to consume and savor every moment. It is a very thick beer or full bodied. With each sip your mouth is just coated with rich roasted malts. For a stout lover it doesn’t get much better than this.

As the beer opens up and warms up you pick up something different with every sip. Like a lot of stouts the roasted malts and ale yeast give you very complex arrangements of flavors. Of course roasted, almost smoky barley flavor then there is some caramel and nutty types of flavors and some coffee and chocolate notes as well. Very complex and very enjoyable.

I chose a typical stout glass for this but you could easily have chosen a brandy snifter. This is one of those sit back and relax types of experiences. The alcohol in the beer is also very interesting. It’s there and it lets you know it’s there but you don’t taste the alcohol in this beer, you feel it. I don’t mean as it goes to your head, well that will probably come when I finish the 22oz bottle but this beer has a very relaxing warming effect. It might sound silly but it’s almost therapeutic.

The other thing I didn’t mention about this beer is the bitterness. There is no hop bitterness to this beer, the hops are just enough to cut some of the malts down a little so the beer is not too syrupy. The bitterness in the beer if you want to call it that comes from the roasted malts. It’s kind of like the charred outside of a good steak cooked on the grill. You know that little bit of black caramelized scorch marks. That’s the type of bitterness in this beer.

The end of that first glass was at room temperature 69 degrees and it still tasted pretty good. There was just a little harshness or bitterness at the end but all and all still phenomenal for a room temperature brew.

I did choose a brandy snifter for the second glass (the remainder of the 22oz bottle). The snifter vs. the tumble really doesn’t add or subtract much from this beer. Whoever if you are drinking a big beer like this one at 10.5 % AVB, you may want a snifter, it’s more of a mental thing. Sometimes it is easier to consume a big beer in smaller samples, one at a time rather than pouring it into one large glass.

Well not that I’m getting to the bottom of this snifter I am starting to feel the alcohol and not just the warming effects.

This is a phenomenal Imperial Russian Stout. I’d have to give this one an A+, not sure if I’m going to give an O for Outstanding so I’ll leave it an A+. Truly this one of the best for an Imperial Russian Stout.
So if you want a rich and warming big beer experience sit back and relax with a snifter of Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.

Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB

Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB

Extra Special Bitter

Brewed by:
Stoudts Brewing Co.
Adamstown, PA

5.00% ABV

Pours a nice looking dark reddish amber with an off white creamy head. The head is slowly diminishing but appears that it will stick around for a while longer and leave some nice lacing.

Nice aroma of hops and some malts but mostly a hoppy nose. Not as much as an American IPA but nonetheless still a predominantly hoppy. It also seems to be more of a flowering hop verses the more pungent IPA hops, that may also be some of the malt sweetness that I’m smelling.

This is hopper than I remember it being the last time I had it. Not complaining this is still a very refreshing beer. Very crisp and bitty but not overpowering bitter like some American IPAs can be. There are some sweet malt flavors that come through. I’m getting a nicely carbonated tingle over the tongue and a crisp hoppy finish. Just like on the nose the hops are more balanced in this beer at least more so than most IPAs. The ESB Extra Special Bitter qualities in this beer are superb. You get that hop sharpness but a sweetness of the malts also come through.

The head has diminished to just a nice film on the top of the beer and a ring around the top of the class still leaving excellent lacing.

Like I mentioned earlier this beer seems hoppier then I remember it in the past. That may be because I have been drinking maltier beers lately and that may make the hops seem more pronounced in this one.

I was driving to the beer store after work today and was just craving an ESB. And Stoudts Scarlet Lady fit my craving nicely. ESBs are a unique style of beer. To me they have just the right amount of hops and malt balance or a crisp refreshing beer. Since this is an Ale so you get a little more character from it then you would a Pilsner or other refreshing Lagers.

The more I drink this beer the more accustomed I’m getting to the hop bitterness and I'm really start to enjoy the other flavors that are coming out now that the beer is opening up and warming up a little. There is definitely a nice malty sweetness that is just starting to come though.

Down to the bottom of the glass, there is just a cluster or island left of the head but still a nice ring around the sides and still leaving some lacing.

Now at 64 degrees this beer just keeps getting better and better as I drink it. It seems like I just started enjoying the caramel malt flavors as I finished the beer. That was just too good to say goodbye to so I think I’m going to have another one while I work on my final comments.

So how can I describe this ESB to you? It’s definitely a hoppy ale but it does not have an overpowering lingering bitterness in the aftertaste or as us beer snobs would say the “finish”. There is a malt and sweet ale character to this beer similar to a red or amber ale. The hops give a very distinct bittering characteristic to the beer but not overpowering. Overall it’s a very refreshing beer. It’s definitely a beer that you want to have more then one of. Wow the old Schaefer jingle just popped into my head, you know “Schaefer, is the, one beer to have, when you’re having more then one”. I hope it doesn’t stay there to long.

I like and appreciate well crafted beers but I’m not a “Hop Head”. An ESB has just the right amount of hops to enhance the flavor but not overpower the beer. This is a fine delicate balance that makes an ESB one of the most difficult brews to make. Plus this fine line varies to each person’s individual taste.

I think I’ll have to put up another post on my take on hops. To me there is a limit to how much you can or should hop up a beer.

Overall for an ESB, Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady is on the top of my list, this is probably my favorite ESB, a solid A or A+.

If you like a beer that has a bite but not a lingering bitterness try this ESB. Still on the hoppy side but not as bitter as a typical American IPA.

And just so you get stuck with the Schaefer jingle in your head check out these old commercials

Berghoff Sundown Dark

Berghoff Sundown Dark

Brewed by:
Minhas Craft Brewery
Wisconsin, United States

American Brown Ale

Pours a very dark amber close to brown, clear with dark copper hues. There is a light tan head. The head looked pretty rich and I thought it would hang around for a while but it didn’t. There is a nice film on top of the beer with a lingering ring around the sides of the glass with some lacing.

Nice aroma of dark roasted malts, almost Belgian like, rich nutty chocolate notes with sweetness.
Wow I saved the best of these Berghoff beers for last. This is a very nice well crafted beer. It starts with a sweet roasty malt flavors a nice tingly carbonation on the tongue and then more malty goodness on the back end. Surprisingly enough it has a drier finish than you would expect with all that maltines. There is a very low hop bitterness just enough to balance and provide a dryer finish.

It has a smooth rich maltiness but it is also a very refreshing beer. That maybe due to the carbonation.

Even with all the malt flavors this is still a medium bodied beer and very easy to drink

There is nothing outstanding with this beer it’s just well done.

Let’s see what it does after it warms up a little.

This beer is at 61 degrees now, there is more bitterness on the back end but it is still very pleasant to drink.

This is a solid B, I really like this beer.

Berghoff Solstice Wit Beer

Berghoff Solstice Wit Beer

Brewed by:
Minhas Craft Brewery
Wisconsin, United States


Pours a pale yellowish straw color with a bright white head. The head is very soapy for a wheat beer and diminished very quickly. After just a few minutes the head has completely disappeared. It still seems to be highly carbonated; there are lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Nice wit aromas on the nose. Sweet and somewhat caramely but with those classic banana and spice maybe even coriander notes are there. It’s one of those beers that you hope tastes as good as it smells.

Very smooth and drinkable beer.

You are first hit with an almost caramely malt taste then the high combination gives an almost cleansing effect over the tongue and you finish with a very pleasant almost citrus flavor, not quite lemon but some citrusy notes. This is a very nice and easy summer beer. Let’s see what happens to it as it warms up a little.

This is interesting, it’s maltier tasting then most wits maltier as in more of a barley malt flavors rather than the more subtle grainy wheat flavors. It’s not bad at all just a little out of the classification of a witbier or wheat beer.

Well the beer is now at 61 degrees and it continues to hold its own. This is a very easy drinking beer even when it warms up. There is a little more harshness as the beer warms and flattens a little but that is to be expected on many beers.

I have to give this beer a good recommendation, it is a very easy drinking and refreshing beer it may be a little sweet for some but all and all it is a good beer. As for a letter rating that’s more difficult because this beer does not fit the normal criteria of a Witbier. A Witbier typically indicates a Belgian White or wheat beer. This beer falls way short to compare it to that. The American wheat beers are a little less defined and open to more interpretations. Don’t get me wrong I really liked this beer it’s just not easy to rate it by its category.

For a Belgian it would get a very low grade a D at best. For an American wit I can go as high as a C+. I try not to find out too much about the beer before I review it so it does not give me a bias in judgment. I really do not know what their intensions are.

I highly recommend this as a good summer beer. Taking it out of the witbier category it would rank up there with a lot of good summer beers. It’s a good clean refreshing summer beer comparable to Samuel Adams Summer ale and others of that type. Not a high end craft beer but a good drinkable summer ale.
Hey, just in case you were interested here in the BierVlog review of Solstice Wit.

Berghoff Rock River Red Ale

Berghoff Rock River Red Ale

Brewed by:
Minhas Craft Brewery
Wisconsin, United States

American Amber / Red Ale

Pours a nice dark amber almost maroon color with rich copper hues, the head white to off white and somewhat soapy. The head diminished quickly but left a nice ring around the top of the beer with some lacing.
It’s a clear filtered beer with lots of carbonation, it’s dark and hard to see through but you can see lots of tiny bubble coming up from the bottom of the glass.

Nice pleasant aromas on the nose. Malts and hops are subtle but both are present. There is a nice caramel sweetness present also. It really smells good I can’t wait to dive into this one.

Nice, first impression on the taste, it really taste every bit as good as it smells. The high carbonation adds to a clean refreshing mouth feel to this beer. The sweetness of caramel maybe even slightly roasted notes with also a nutty taste to it. There is a slight unpleasantness on the back end but it does not linger and it finishes fairly dry with some lingering maltiness.

As this beer warms up that unpleasantness on the back end is a little more pronounced. I wish I knew more about this so I could describe it better.

All and all this is a very good American amber or red ale. Smooth rich malts with just the right amount of hop balance to give you a clean finish. I would recommend this beer to anyone that likes a little more body to a beer but not too heavy. My final rating for this beer is a B-. If I was comparing several American ambers head to head this one may drop to a C or C+ but I’m going to stick with a B-. A good beer nothing outstanding but more importantly nothing really bad either. There is that slight thing on the back end but that’s not enough to give it a really bad rating.

It’s an overall good beer. Something comparable to this and widely available would be the Budweiser American Ale. Yes, I said Budweiser; their new American Ale is a very good around amber ale. And you can’t beet it for the price it’s only about $6.00 a six pack. I’ll have to do a real review of Bud’s American Ale.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Berghoff Prairie Lager

Berghoff Prairie Lager

Brewed by:
Minhas Craft Brewery
Wisconsin, United States

German Pilsener

Pours a pale straw color with a hint of cold, not as watery looking as some American macro lagers. It has a bright white soapy head that diminishes quickly.

There is not much on the nose; typical cereal type of aromas from the malts with little or no scent from the hops, there is also a little sweetness coming through. All and all it’s just your typical lager aroma nothing noticeably pronounced coming through.

Ho My! WOW THAT WAS A BAD FIRST TASTE. Gee I remember mom saying “if you don’t have any thing nice to say then don’t say anything at all” This may be a very short review. I’ll keep trying to drink this and see if I can come up with something nice to say.
Ok, I got nothing but this is a beer review, so here goes my first negative review, sorry mom.

The continuing sips where not as bad as the first. I don’t think I have ever had such a bad reaction to a first sip of beer. I’ve had plenty of startling reactions to first sips, like a Belgian Gueuze, Fruit Lambic or a Flemish Sour, maybe even that first sip of a Shandy, even some extreme micro brews but nothing was so unpleasant tasting as this. I don’t know what they are trying to do with this but whatever it was they missed or if this is their intent than they should stop brewing, at least this lager. All right, that was a little harsh and this is the first of a variety pack that I will continue to review. But I really do not like this beer and they tote some great Midwest Micro Brewing Tradition so maybe I was expecting a better beer than this.
Continuing to muster each swallow, it does get a little better, not good but better. There are odd flavors coming out of this beer that I have never had in a lager before. There is a sweetness that you usually get from ale yeast but the grainy flavors of a typical lager are also there and behind that all is just a nasty unpleasantness that I can’t put my finger on. It’s not that skunky taste that you sometimes get in an old or poorly kept lager, these are just not good beer flavors.

I DO NOT under any circumstances recommend drinking this beer. Now that’s coming from someone that just admitted to drinking and somewhat enjoying Bud Light Lime (hot summer day and ice cold). I can’t even give this a grade I dislike it so. If it wasn’t for the headache I would drink regular Bud over this any day.

I just looked this up on and it’s categorized as a German Pilsner, wow not even close. Sorry Berghoff, this beer just doesn’t make a grade. Or if you insist on a grade it would be an F. Drink any American macro lager before you attempt to drink this.