Friday, December 31, 2010

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2010


Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
2010

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, California, USA

American IPA

6.80% ABV





Commercial Description:
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale represents a time honored tradition of brewing a special beer for the holiday season. There are generous portions of barley malts and fine whole hops of several varieties, creating a brew with a full, rich and hearty character.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: 8.00 6 pack, ~$15 12 pack
24oz bottle ~$3.30

Background:
I have had this many times before. It seems to be a staple around the Fresh Hop and Holiday beer seasons. I did review this last year but I have noticed that each year is slightly different. Some years it seems hoppier than others. After talking to the local rep at a beer tasting I realized that this is a Fresh Hop ale. It could be that the differences I’m detecting are the differences in the hop crops each year. At any rate this year’s vintage reminded me more of how I remembered this beer a few years ago; more balanced with a good malt background. So I thought this beer deserved a 2010 vintage review. I also have a 24oz bottle from last year in the beer cabinet. I thought last year was too hoppy and wanted to see what happens to the hops when cellared for a year. I’ll be reviewing that shortly.

Review:
The beer pours a clear copper, well more like an amber with ruby hues and a fairly rich off white to light tan head. This beer is also highly carbonated with lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

The nose is delightful with caramel malt aromas and the most pleasant hop complexity. The interesting hop aromas on the nose of this beer are rich with pine, citrus and floral notes.

OH MAN is that good! I am not a hop head and American IPA’s are my least favorite craft beer but this one works for me. It has the malt flavors of a good amber ale with a very unique whole hop bite that is not overpoweringly bitter. I really like these fresh hop beers. You get the bite from the hops but you also get a wonderful floral complexity from the whole hop that is lost when the hops are pelletized. So let me attempt a better play by play.

The experience starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. Next you experience effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is also a slight building hop bitterness as you get to the back-end. The back-end is surprisingly still easy drinking but there is a little effort in the swallow. The building hop bitterness anticipated from the middle of the sip grows stronger and finally materializes toward the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is where it all comes together. There is a virtual explosion of hop flavors coming out of the swallow. These whole hop flavors are amazing but never overpowering. The finish is full with of pine, citrus and floral fresh hop flavors. There is also a nice malt background that does not get lost with all of the wonderful fresh hop flavors. There is a lingering aftertaste but this is not as bitter as most American IPA’s.

The head on this beer has not quit. It has diminished to a nice protective layer over the top of the beer with a decent ring around the glass and very impressive lacing.

This really is a good beer. I like the whole hop flavors; they are complex in the fact that they are not just one note. There are at least three different hop flavors that come out of this beer and best of all they are not overpowering or overly bitter.

Well this is the last one of these that I have and now it’s gone.

I’m really not sure why I like this beer so much. I guess I’m impressed when an IPA is not all one note; bitter hops. This Fresh Hop IPA is nicely balanced. The beer maintains it’s malt background along with the hop bitterness.

I’m going for an A for this year’s vintage. This beer maintains a nice caramel malt background with a very interesting multitude of hop flavors. This fresh hop ale is sure to please even those of us that are not hop heads.


Weyerbacher Winter Ale



Weyerbacher Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Easton, Pennsylvania, USA

Winter Warmer

5.60% ABV





Commercial Description:
At Weyerbacher we have created a Winter Ale that is a must for any malty beer lover. Winner of a Silver Medal in the 1998 World Beer Championships, Weyerbacher Winter Ale is brewed with deep-roasted chocolate malt. The taste predominates with a warm, roasty flavor, balanced out with a slightly dry finish. It is smooth but not cloying, with a warming belt of alcohol (5.6% ABV). Although winter ales predate history, they are believed to have their origin in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice. Later, when monasteries produced the local brew, winter ales were made each year to commemorate the birth of Christ. Back then, winter ales were brewed full-bodied as a source of nutrition for the upcoming winter months. Today, winter ales are typified by their seasonality, their rich, malty flavors and by their deep, dark coloration. Generally available November-March, Weyerbacher Winter Ale is the perfect libation for a winter meal, with good friends, or beside a warm fire fending off a cold winter night. (RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$11.00 6pack, ~$40.00 case

Background:
I was at State Line Liquors to pick up the Christmas Keg, Anchor Christmas Ale and get some stocking stuffers. While wandering around looking for some more Christmas beers and I heard another customer recommend this winter warmer so I bought a 6 pack.

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark amber almost brown with deep ruby hues and an off white head.

The nose is delightful with toasted caramel malt aromas with nutty notes and savory floral hop aromas

Wow, that was a little unexpected. This is good. That didn’t sound right. This is much richer and fuller bodied than I expected.

The experience starts out with rich malt sweetness up front then little effervescence over the tongue during the middle of the sip. There is also a building malt robustness through the middle of the sip into the back-end. The back-end is fairly easy drinking but there is a slight hesitation during the swallow due to the robustness of the toasted malt flavors. The finish is full of malt and hop flavors. This may be a little too robust for an English Warmer. The malt and hop flavors are a little unusual. These remind me more of a German Alt or Old Ale than an English Warmer. There is also a nice earthy hop flavors on the finish with notes of pine and nutty notes from the malt.


There is a robust earthiness to these malts but it seems to be picking up some off flavors as it warms. That is still hard to but it is really hard to tell at this point, we are only at 55 degrees.

All and all this is a nice Winter Warmer.

There is definitely something odd on the finish now but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Right now it’s not bad just more robust. But at any rate it makes this beer less enjoyable as it warms.

I can’t go for a B on this one so I’m settling for a C+. This is a very robust Winter Warmer with rich earthy malt and hop flavors, however this one does not seem to warm well. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brooklyn Winter Ale




Brooklyn Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Scottish Ale

6.00% ABV



 


Commercial Description:
Brooklyn completely changed the recipe in 2006. It’s now a Scottish-style ale. Brewmaster Garrett Oliver explained to us that: “There are no spices at all. Good British floor malts and hops along with our yeast strain account for all the flavors. It has a Scottish-style cooler fermentation, which pushes malt to the forefront rather than fruitiness.” It was brewed with Scottish Floor-malted Maris Otter, English crystal malts, Belgian Aromatic malt, American roasted malts, American oats and hopped with Willamette.
(BeerAdvocate.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$9.00 6pack, ~$32.00 case

Background:
This is another gift from my friend Gene. I am a big fan of Brooklyn and can’t believe that I have missed this one. Garret Oliver and the crew at Brooklyn always seem to be faithful whatever that particular style of beer is. In this case it will be interesting if they will keep to more of the English Winter Warmer style of add a more hardy American twist to it. Well looking back at the description it looks like this will be more English since they are calling it a Scottish-style ale. So let’s see what this Brooklyn Winter Ale is all about.

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark amber with rich ruby hues and a modest off white head.

The nose is classic Scotch Ale with rich toasted caramel malt and floral hop aromas. There is also an earthy aspect to the nose of this beer. This is a very inviting nose I can’t wait to see what it taste like.

Not bad, this is a pretty good tasting Scotch Ale but it also has a very refreshing quality to it.

The experience starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. Then there is a very pleasant and refreshing effervescence over the tongue throughout the middle of the sip. The back-end is also very refreshing with another carbonation release during the swallow. All of this carbonation adds to the refreshing aspect of the beer but also masks a lot of the malt flavors until you reach the finish. The flavors really start to come out toward the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is full flavored with rich toasted caramel malt flavors along with an interesting earthy hop flavor as well. There is not much of a final aftertaste just a slight lingering malt flavor.


This beer really seems to opens up nicely as it warms a little. The malt flavors seem to be more pronounced now as it warms.

This is a solid B for me. This is not a malty as some Scotch Ales but it is a very nice Winter Ale with some very nice toasted and caramel malt flavors and nice earthy hop finish that is not bitter. It is very satisfying and also quite refreshing.

This will be a nice beer to have at your next Holiday Party. It should be well liked by a wide variety of beer drinkers.
  
Thank you Gene and Brooklyn bring for another great winter beer experience.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)



Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
San Francisco, California, USA

Winter Warmer

5.50% ABV




Commercial Description:
This is our special ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons appears born anew. Editor’s Note: due to the significant similarity in style and strength from year to year (despite potential differences in the exact spice blend), this beer is no longer separated by vintage.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$10.00 6pack, ~$40.00 case

Background:
This is going to be the Christmas keg this year so I figured I better review a bottle before hand. I make it a point to have this beer every year. It is always just a little different each year but it is always good. I have had several changes to have this years vintage but I have passed it up to give this review. So let’s see how good this years Christmas ale is.

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark brown with deep ruby hues and an off white head. This also seems highly carbonated with tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass. This is very dark I can barely see the bubbles.

The nose is exquisite with dark roasted malt aromas along with dark fruit, floral hops and notes of Christmas spices. These aromas are outstanding I just hope it taste as good as it smells.

Wow, Christmas in a Glass. This is another great year for anchor. Just Amazing!

The taste starts out with sweet dark malts up front then a very interesting effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There is just a hint of malt flavors though the middle of the sip but the effervescence masks and prevents them from building. There is also an additional carbonation release during the swallow that also masks the flavors on the back-end as well. There is an unusual anticipation and you start to question if this beer is going to have any real flavor and then it hits just at the end of the swallow into the finish. And it is amazing. Everything that was hinted at on the nose comes alive in the finish of this beer. Sweet dark roasted malt flavors with dark fruit esters, a wonderful floral hop flavor and finally the most wonderful flavors of Christmas spices, notes of cinnamon, and nutmeg. The final aftertaste has some lingering dark roasted malts but it is mostly those wonderful Christmas spices that stay with you to the next sip.

The second sip was just as good as the first but I know what was awaiting my palette after the swallow.

Wow, and to think I have a sixtal of this for our Christmas party. Gee I kind of wish no one shows up so I can nurse it over the holidays.

I can’t wait to see how this beer opens up as it warms a little.  

We are now at 60 degrees.

The head has completely dissipated along with the bubbles rising from the bottom.

The beer is much smoother without all the carbonation. The malt flavors and the spicy notes are both more pronounced now. Man this is a good beer.

I’m going for an A on this one. This beer truly is Christmas in a glass. The rich dark roasted malt flavors along with an incredible blend of Christmas spices make this a most enjoyable Winter Warmer.

Merry Christmas!

Hinterländer Marburger Kräusen


Hinterländer Marburger Kräusen

Brewed by:
Brewed by Hinterländer Brauhaus
Breidenbach-Wolzhausen, Germany

Keller Bier / Zwickel Bier

6.00% ABV

Commercial Description:
What once could enjoy only the brewer, now for you too: unfiltered, pure taste of beer with special spices. Our brewer Ole Endler brews this beer a specialty with three different malts. Unfiltered sediment particles are still a lot of hops, malt, and of course the bottom-fermenting yeast included, thus making it nutritionally valuable than filtered beers. Quite originally was only the brewer to the fullest Bierköstlichkeit: namely, he took prior to filtration with the so-called "wedge valve" a trial to assess the quality of beer and the maturity of the beer. Now there is this full-bodied, yeasty fragrance and taste with a pronounced malt flavor for you too. And as we know, we use for our Marburger krausen exclusively German quality raw materials and brewing with our soft, fresh spring water from brewing their own deep wells. Our krausen Marburger has an original gravity of 11.9% and an alcohol content of 5%. A real fresh taste - one from home!
(Translated by Google)

Background:
A colleague of mine Andreas, was in from Marburg Germany for a training class. As we were chatting about work issues one day he asked me if I liked beer. So I proceeded to show Andreas a glimpse into my beer madness. Then on his last day he gave me a couple of these beers. He said it was a special beer from Marburg. I just looked it up and it’s the same style as the Hacker Pschorr Anno 1417 which I really liked so I can’t wait to see what this beer is all about.

Review:
The beer pours a hazy pale copper with a fairly rich white to off white head.

The nose is delightful with light pilsner type malts, floral hops and a very interesting sweet citrus and yeasty aroma as well.

Wow, this is different. This is really good but it doesn’t seem to fit any of the styles that I’m use to. It’s like a like a yeasty and spicy pilsner. I’m going to attempt a play by play.

The experience starts out with light sweet light malts up front then the most enjoyable effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with another carbonation release during the swallow. There is a mild spice and earthiness that builds during the swallow into the finish. The finish is nice with sweet light malts, some spice and citrus notes along with an interesting yeasty background. The final aftertaste is subtle but there is a lingering earthy and yeasty note.

I’m really not doing this beer justice. This is much better then I have the ability to explain. These interesting notes and spice are subtle but complex for something that taste like it was basically a pilsner.

This beer even gets better as it warms. The earthy flavors are more predominate now that we are at 61 degrees.

I’m going to have to do some more research into this style of beer and get a better understanding on where these nice earthy flavors are coming from.

I’m going for a B+ on this one. It may actually be better than that in style but I have not had many of these unique beers to compare it to. This is a complex little beer with light pilsner type malt and unique hop and malt earthy notes. 

I have to thank my new friend Andreas for bringing this over from Marburg. This has been a very pleasureable and unique experience.

 
  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Beaus Lug Tread Lagered Ale



Lug Tread Lagered Ale

Brewed by:
Beau's All Natural Brewing Company
Ontario, Canada

Kölsch

5.20% ABV







Commercial Description:
Beau’s flagship offering is Lug Tread Lagered Ale, named after the tire treads of a small tractor, a true symbol of Eastern Ontario. Golden-hued, crisp and finely balanced, Lug Tread is a tribute to “Kölsch” the classic beer of Cologne, Germany. Lug Tread is top fermented (like an ale) and then cold aged, or “lagered”, for a lengthy period. This gives it some light ale notes, complemented by a lager-like crispness.
(RateBeer.com)

Background:
This is another gift from my friend Gene. He was recently traveling in Canada and brought me back a couple of beers to review. I have never even heard of this before so I’m really looking forward to it.

Review:
The beer pours a clear golden yellow color with a bright white head.

The nose is nice with subtle but pleasant aromas a pilsner type malt along with an earthy floral hop aroma.

This is a nice Kolsch, clean and crisp with that unique earthy hop flavor.

This experience starts out with a light malt sweetness up font on the tongue. The middle of the sip is very refreshing with effervescence over the tongue.  The back-end is very easy drinking. There is that unique Kolsch earthiness that starts to build toward the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is nice with light malts and drying hops. There is also a slight bite on the finish but nothing bitter. There is slight aftertaste that is a hint of that unique Kolsch earthy note.

This is a very good Kolsch. I am really enjoying this beer. I wish that I had a real Kolsch glass (Stange). This round bottom glass opens the beer up but I may be loosing some of the crispness of this beer by not drinking it in a Stange.

As this beer warms those nice Kolsch flavors become more pronounced. I wish I know more about this beer and where that unique earthy flavor comes from. I don’t know if it’s from the style of malts or hops but it is good just the same.

We are now at 62 degrees.

There is a lingering malt sweetness now that I did not notice when this was colder.

This has been a surprisingly good Kolsch

I’m going for a B+ on this one. This is a very enjoyable Kolsch, clean an crisp with that classic Kolsch earthiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creemore Springs Premium Lager



Creemore Springs Premium Lager

Brewed by:
Creemore Springs Brewery
Ontario, Canada

American Amber / Red Lager

5.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
Creemore Springs Premium Lager has been honoured as one of the world’s great beer. Rich, well balanced and made with all the good stuff. Our direct fire brewing process uses only pure spring water, the finest malted barley, imported hops and select yeast to make this unique amber lager. Each batch is crafted by a team dedicated to producing the perfect beer. Creemore Springs Premium Lager should be kept refrigerated. Delivered fresh weekly...Enjoy!
(RateBeer.com)

Background:
This is another gift from my friend Gene. He was recently traveling in Canada and brought me back a couple of beers to review. I have never even heard of this before so I’m really looking forward to it.

Review:
The beer pours a clear copper with golden hues and a fairly rich white to off white head.

The nose is fairly nondescript with light pilsner type malt aromas and a sweet floral hop aroma as well.

This is good, really good. It is always a great experience to taste a regular style beer that is done well and taste so good. This is nice.

The taste starts out with sweet light malts up front then and nice cleansing and refreshing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back end is extremely easy drinking with an effortless swallow. There is also another carbonation release during the swallow that adds to the refreshing aspect of this beer. The finish is about as perfect as they come for an Amber Lager. It is clean and crisp with the balance of light malt flavors and hops to provide a dry and refreshing finish. There is little to no final aftertaste just a slight hint of malt and hops.

This is one beer that is so refreshing you are already thinking about the second one before the first is finished.

There is an interesting bite to this beer that I did not notice earlier. We have warmed a little but we are only at 52 degrees. It’s not bad but I just hope it doesn’t turn into an off taste.

All and all I am very impressed with this beer. However it does seem to be picking up a slight off taste was it warms. I’m really almost finished but I’m going to let this sit a while and warm up a bit more.

Well, we are now at 62 degrees, let’s see how this warmed.

OK, I was wrong this beer was not picking up off flavors; that was just a different bite for a lager that I did not expect. The malt flavors in this beer have actually gotten sweeter and smoother as it warms.

I’m going for a B maybe even a B+. This is just an Amber Lager but it is very well done. It’s a very enjoyable clean, crisp and refreshing Amber Lager with a nice light malt sweetness and a dry finish.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA



  
Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA

Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing / Wolaver's
Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale

6.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
The Alpine Black IPA made its debut at the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington, Vermont in July. It was intended to be a one-off pilot batch and quickly evolved into an instant favorite. To appease demand we have decided to release it as our new Otter Creek Winter Seasonal. Those who attended the VBF were lucky to get a sneak tasting of this incredible brew. Since then it has been the buzz around town. Beer Stats: Style: Black IPA ALC/VOL: 6.0% IBU: 60 Malts: 2-Row, Caramel 60L, Carafa III Hops: Apollo, Centennial, Citra Description: “Dark in color and character, this unfiltered Black IPA exudes caramel and roasted notes while highlighting a bold hop bitterness and citrus aroma. Apollo, centennial, and citra hops intermingle with the deep complexities provided by copious amounts of caramel malts and de-husked roasted barley.”
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$9.00 6pack, ~$32.00 case

Background:
Well this is officially my SAD season. That is my Seasonal Alcoholic Disorder. It is Friday night December 17 and I am on vacation until January 4th so let the drinking begin. And what a better winter seasonal to start off with but this new Black IPA. I had a taste of this beer at the last Christmas Beer tasting at State Line Liquors and thought it was pretty good, although it got lost with all the other beers that night. I’m so confident that I’m going to like this I bought a 6pack, so let the SAD beer reviews begin.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown almost completely opaque with just a hint of deep ruby hues showing on the edge of the glass and a fairly rich tan head.

The nose is really unique and interesting; there are dark roasted malt aromas similar to a robust porter or stout and then the most interesting pine and citrus hop aromas. My senses are in a tailspin already just from this nose. 

Wow, no I really mean WOW! This is the most unique beer that I’ve had in a long time.

The experience starts out with a dark malt sweetness upfront on the tip of the tongue but that does not last long. Immediately following that is a building hop bitterness along with a unique malt smoothness over the tongue through the middle of the sip. It is a strange sensation to have this bittering hops and malt smoothness at the some time. The back-end is a little intense with all of these rich flavors plus a nice carbonation release during the swallow. The finish is amazing with rich dark roasted malt flavors and the pine hop bitterness of an American IPA. These are somewhat conflicting experiences but they really work well together in this beer. These conflicting flavors also carry into the final aftertaste.  

I’m afraid that in trying to explain the intensity of flavors in this beer that it may sound like I’m not enjoying it. I have to tell you that this is fantastic. Of course it’s not your everyday beer but it is something else.

This is the first Black IPA that I’ve had and I love this new style. This is the first beer of my SAD season and I bought a 6 pack so I’m going to crack open another one while I work on some final thoughts about this fantastic beer.

I’m not your typical hop head but this beer is amazing.

This beer also just keeps getting better as it warms. The hop bitterness seems to subside but the rich malt flavors are becoming more pronounced.

I am also surprised that this is only 6% ABV because there seems to be a real warming effect to this beer. I guess that’s just part of the robustness.

Even though this is the first Black IPA that I’ve had I’m still giving this beer an A. This really is a creative twist in beer styles. The dark malts with all the notes of caramel, chocolate, nuts and dark fruit combined perfectly with a complex hop bitterness along with citrus and spicy notes to make this beer a delightful and robust winter seasonal.

Full Sail IPA

 
Full Sail IPA

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewing Company / Tasting Room and Pub
Hood River, Oregon, USA

American IPA

6.00% ABV






Commercial Description:
Full Sail India Pale Ale
Generously Hopped, Pronounced Citrus Flavor With a Full Malty Body
Return to Full List
Full Sail India Pale Ale
Generously Hopped, Pronounced Citrus Flavor With a Full Malty Body
LESS ORDINARY FROM SOMEWHERE EXTRAORDINARY
The British colonists who once visited India invented India Pale Ale. But we seriously doubt they ever enjoyed one after a day of fullblown kiteboarding. What a shame. Generously hopped to 60 IBU’s in the classic style, our IPA is a real thirst quencher.
It has a full, malty body and there’s even a hint of fresh citrus to it. Perfect after your favorite water sport. Even if that happens to be the grueling drag-the-poolside-lounge-chair-into-the-sun event.
ABV 6% IBU 60
(FullSailBrewing.com)

General Pricing:
11oz bottle, ~$ 9.00 6pack, ~$32.00 case

Background:
My friend Joe has been waiting or Full Sail to arrive in our area since this summer. Just a few weeks ago we realized that State Line Liquors had added Full Sail to their lineup. Joe proceeded to purchase several Full Sail beers and in turn gave me a sampler of the Session Lager, Session Dark, Amber and IPA. So this is the last of the Full Sail reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a clear light copper with deep golden hues and a bright white head.

The nose is full with light pilsner type malt and citrus hop aromas. This is a very inviting nose; I can’t what to see what this taste like.

Yeap, that’s an IPA. Well, that’s not really fail this is actually a pretty good tasting IPA.

The taste starts out with a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. But that only last for a split second then it is immediately followed by a tingling effervescence along with a building hop bitterness throughout the middle of the sip. This hop bitterness dissipates when you get to the top of the swallow. Also this hop bitterness never becomes overwhelming. The back end is fairly easy drinking for an IPA but the swallow in not effortless, then again this is an IPA. Once again there is a tang or bitterness that builds at the end of the swallow and carries into the finish. The finish explodes with crisp citrus and floral hop flavors. This is a powerful bite but at the same time it does not seem overwhelming and maintains a very refreshing aspect. There is a slight lingering bitterness on the aftertaste but nothing like the typical American IPA.

As this beer warms the hop bitterness seems to subside and the light malt flavors seems to make there presence known.

I am not a hophead and American IPA’s are my least favorite style of craft beer. But that being said I could drink this IPA any day of the week. The hop flavors in this ale are more stimulating than bitter. Throughout this experience this ale always seemed light and refreshing. I realize that is somewhat of a contradiction. If all American IPA’s tasted like this I could see myself as a hophead.

I’m going for an A on this. This is a delicious, crisp and refreshing IPA. There is a tremendous amount of hop bitterness but these citrus hop flavors never seem to overwhelm the experience or leave a long lingering bitterness.      


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Full Sail Amber Ale


Full Sail Amber Ale

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewing Company / Tasting Room and Pub
Hood River, Oregon, USA

American Amber / Red Ale

5.50% ABV





Commercial Description:
Malty Sweet, Reddish Amber Hue & a Spicy Floral Hop Finish.
OREGON'S ORIGINAL AMBER
Anyone remember the grocery store cooler back before it turned into a kaleidoscopic fantasy world of beer options? You pretty much had two choices: Regular or Light. In 1989, when we brewed our first batch of Full Sail Amber, not only was it the first Amber ale here in Beervana (aka Oregon) -- it was the first craft beer to go into a bottle. And two things became immediately apparent. It wasn’t Regular and it sure as heck wasn’t
Light. Our Amber is a sweet, malty, medium-bodied ale with a spicy, floral hop finish. It’s brewed with 2-row Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts. And we hop it with Mt. Hoods and Cascades. We’re as proud of it today as we were back in ’89. And over the years it’s earned 14 Gold Medals. Not that we’re keeping track or anything.
ABV 5.5% IBU 31
(FullSailBrewing.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$ 9.00 6pack, ~$32.00 case

Background:
My friend Joe has been waiting or Full Sail to arrive in our area since this summer. Just a few weeks ago we realized that State Line Liquors just added Full Sail to their lineup. Joe proceeded to purchase several Full Sail beers and in turn gave me a sampler of the Session Lager, Session Dark, Amber and IPA. So this is the third out of four Full Sail reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a clear rich amber with ruby hues and an off white to tan head.

The dose is delightful with caramel malt aromas along with a very pleasant floral hop aroma.

Oh My, that’s good, really good. This is nice Amber Ale with just the right amount of caramel malt flavors and clean floral hop finish.

The experience starts out with sweet caramel malts up front then a nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There are also building malt and hop flavors toward the back-end. The back-end is still fairly easy drinking with a nice carbonation release during the swallow. The finish is great, smooth and clean with nice caramel malt flavors and very pleasant light hops that dry with just the right amount of bite. The finish is not better but the hop presence is unmistakable. There is a slight lingering aftertaste of light hops and caramel malts.

We have warmed to 58 degrees.

There is an interesting spicy note on the finish as this beer warms a little.

The head has diminished to a patchy island and a ring around the top of the beer. It is also leaving some modest lacing.

This beer is really opening up as it warms. The malt flavors are much more pronounced now. There is also a nutty almost toasted note to the malt flavors now.

All and all this is a nice Amber Ale.

This is a solid B maybe even a B+. It is a very clean Amber Ale with wonderful caramel malt flavors and pleasant light hop finish along with some interesting spicy and nutty notes.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Full Sail Session Black Lager



Session Black Lager

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewing Company / Tasting Room and Pub
Hood River, Oregon, USA

Schwarzbier

5.40% ABV




Commercial Description:
Short, Dark, and Drinkable and four time Gold Medal Winner including the 2009 GABF! Our newest member of the family, Session Black, carries the mantra of drinkability into new territory. Most beers this dark are so heavy-duty, you could eat them with a fork. Session Black, on the other hand, lets you have your dark beer and drink it, too. With just a hint of roasty chocolate character, Session Black is short, dark, and totally drinkable. At long last, a dark beer that doesn't drink like a meal.
ABV 5.4% IBU 18
(FullSailBrewing.com)

General Pricing:
11oz bottle, ~$ 16.00 12pack, ~$29.00 case

Background:
My friend Joe has been waiting or Full Sail to arrive in our area since this summer. Just a few weeks ago we realized that State Line Liquors just added Full Sail to their lineup. Joe proceeded to purchase several Full Sail beers and in turn gave me a sampler of the Session Lager, Session Dark, Amber and IPA. So this is the second out of four Full Sail reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark amber, almost brown with rich ruby hues and an off white head.

The nose is nice with subtle toasted malt aromas and a pleasant floral hop aroma.

Man this is another winner from Full Sail; clean and refreshing with a nice malt background. The most interesting thing is that it has the smoothness of an ale.

It starts out with nice sweet toasted malts flavors up front then the most pleasant effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is very easy drinking. It is just before the finish on the swallow when you pick up more of these flavors. The finish is nice, still very clean and refreshing for a dark malt beer. There are nice toasted malt flavors on the finish, along with enough hops present to dry without bitttering. Some of these malt flavors do carry into the final aftertaste.

All and all this is a great Schwarzbier or Dark Lager.

The flavors in this beer remind me of Negra Modella or Shiner Black Lager but with one big difference. This beer has a very nice refreshing quality to it that the others do not.

Once again this will be another short review since the glass is empty already.

I’m going to give this Dark Lager a B+. This beer has just about everything going for it; smooth and clean with a nice dark malt flavors and the most refreshing quality. This beer is so smooth it drinks more like an ale than a lager.

I highly recommend this beer to anyone looking for something just a little extra in a nice drinkable beer. This will be the perfect beer for a summer evening. This smooth refreshing beer is sure to please the palates of the novice to the connoisseur.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Full Sail Session Premium Lager


Session Premium Lager

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewing Company / Tasting Room and Pub
Hood River, Oregon, USA

American Pale Lager

5.10% ABV



Commercial Description:
Original Session, with the bright red label, is a classic all-malt pre-Prohibition style lager that reminds us of what American lagers used to taste like. It's flavorful, refreshing, and has a touch of that import-style taste. (Which, once upon a time, you didn't have to buy an "import" to get.) Oh, and it comes in a stubby, 11-oz bottle like your grandpa used to buy. So after your next session (surf, jam, gab, whatever), crack open a Session and drink to the good old new days.
Named World's Best Premium Lager at the World Beer Awards and winner of a slew of other shiny trophies, Session has truly earned itself a place at the bar. Not to mention the barbeque.
(FullSailBrewing.com)

General Pricing:
11oz bottle, ~$ 16.00 12pack, ~$29.00 case

Background:
My friend Joe has been waiting or Full Sail to arrive in our area since this summer. Just a few weeks ago we realized that State Line Liquors added Full Sail to their lineup. Joe proceeded to purchase several Full Sail beers and in turn he gave me a sampler of the Session Lager, Session Dark, Amber and IPA. So this will be the first of 4 Full Sail reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a crystal clear golden straw color with a bright white head.

The nose is great for a Pale Lager, maybe even the best; pleasant pilsner type malt aromas with just a slight floral hop aroma.

Wow, this may be the best Pale Lager I ever had. This is clean crisp and refreshing. This may be next summers staple beer. The problem is that this is a Pale Lager so there is not much going on or much to describe. But for what it is this is fantastic.

It starts out with light sweet pilsner type malts up front then the most refreshing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an effortless swallow. There is also a nice carbonation release during the swallow that adds to the refreshing aspect of this beer. The finish is crisp and clean with the perfect amount of light malt flavor and just enough hops to dry with out bittering.
I’m very impressed with this Pale Lager. It is clean, crisp and refreshing. I feel like I just went through the time tunnel and ended up in the hay day of American Brewing when beer tasted like beer. There are no off flavors that the American Adjuncts have. There are no grassy notes of corn or rice in this beer. I just wish all the American beers could taste like this again.

We have warmed up to 56 degrees now.

As this beer warms a little there is an almost sweet note to the finish. 

Well, this is another short review since the glass is empty already.

I’m giving this one an A (Rating in Class).  So far I think this is the best example of an American Pale Lager and now my gold standard for this style. This beer is clean, crisp and refreshing with a nice light malt flavor and a dry finish. This is the perfect American Beer. This is what all those American Macro’s should taste like.

I highly recommend this beer to any and all common American beer drinkers; meaning anyone that drinks the big American macro beers from Anheuser Busch and Miller-Coors. This beer is what all of those others should to taste like and probably did back in the day.

I don't usually comment about the price but that may be an issue with this beer. ~$16.00 a 12 pack is a great price for a good Craft Beer but this is just a Pale Lager.


At any rate this is a great Pale Lager. Thanks Joe for a great experience.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Southampton Imperial Porter



Southampton Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Southampton Publick House
Southampton, New York, USA

American Porter

7.20% ABV





Commercial Description:
Our imperial, Baltic-style porter is inspired by the strong, dark brews exported from Great Britain to Eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Rich and flavorful with upfront notes of chocolate, caramel and toffee.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.00 6pack, ~$31.00 case

Background:
No rhyme or reason for this one. I just saw it at the store the other day and picked it up to review. I’ve had quite a few good beers from Southampton so I’m expecting good things from this one. I’m a sucker for a good porter so lets see how this Imperial Porter shapes up.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown with just a hint of ruby hues sneaking around the side of the glass and a tan head.

The nose is rich with sweet dark malt aromas and notes of coffee and chocolate.

That’s a nice Porter; rich but very smooth and easy drinking.

It starts out with sweet dark roasted malts up front then a rich but smooth mouthfeel through the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with a carbonation release during the swallow. The flavors really start to show toward the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is very flavorful with rich toasted malt flavors and just a hint of hop bitterness. There are also notes of toffee, caramel and chocolate on the finish. The final aftertaste is a pleasant lingering flavor of caramel malt and toffee.

This is a very good tasting porter. I’m really surprised at the 7.2% ABV. The alcohol is not detectable at all; although the alcohol may account for some of the sweetness and soothing aspect of this Porter.

Well, this review is going to be pretty short for me. But this one was so good it’s gone already.

I’m going for an A- on this one. This is an excellent porter; smooth, rich and delicious with just a hint of hop bitterness on the finish.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout



Chicory Stout

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Milton, Delaware, USA

American Stout

5.20% ABV






Commercial Description:
Chicory Stout is a rich, dark beer made with a touch of roasted chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John's Wort, and licorice root. It is brewed with roast barley, crystal malt and oats and hopped just right with Glacier hops. We use fair trade Organic Mexican Coatepec beans roasted to our specifications by Notting Hill Coffee Roastery in Lewes, DE.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.006pack, ~$29.00 case

Background:
I was just looking around for a few singles that I have not had or reviewed before and this one jumped into my cart.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown, stout dark, completely opaque with no light showing through the glass and a very rich tan head.

The nose is delightful with sweet dark roasted malt aromas with notes of dark fruit, chocolate and coffee. With a gentle swirl there is a very unique hop and almost smoky aroma that I can’t put my finger on.

Wow, there’s a lot going on in this stout. It is very robust with more flavors than I anticipated.

This experience starts out with sweet dark roasted malts up front on the tip of the tongue then an interesting building malt robustness through the middle of the sip. There are a lot of interesting things going on in the back end. From the top of the swallow to the finish there are a multitude of complex mouth feels and flavors. There is a interesting carbonation release during the swallow but it does not mask the flavors. The flavors range from malt sweetness, to coffee bitterness, to hop bitterness and that unique flavor that was sensed on the nose that I still can’t explain. The finish is pretty intense, all of these flavors come to life and your senses are in overload trying to process experience. I cannot even attempt to explain the unique complexities of this finish. The final aftertaste is that classic lingering stout maltiness and some lingering bitter coffee notes as well. There is also that classic malt coating left throughout your mouth.

The head has diminished to patchy island and a ring around the top of the beer. It has also left some decent lacing on the glass.

As interesting and complex as this is it is not a very easy drinking stout. It is very robust with a great amount of coffee and hop bitterness on the finish. It is a very good stout but it is a little too robust for my liking.

That is what makes rating this difficult. For an American Stout I want to give this an A. But I’m not fond of that coffee bitterness on the finish so I going for a B+. This is a very unique complex and very robust American Stout.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lancaster Winter Warmer


Lancaster Winter Warmer

Brewed by:
Lancaster Brewing Company
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

Old Ale

Winter Warmer

8.90% ABV





Commercial Description:
Our classic Olde Ale redefines the term "bull-bodied" with its deliverance of complex and firm malt flavor. A fine blend of British and American hops provides an even bitterness as this beer finishes with a warming alcohol flavor.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.00-$10.006pack, ~$30.00-$35.00 case

Background:
My son John and I returned a few empty beer bottles to our local Delaware beer store. We ended up returning 7 cases of bottles. That was $8.40, so we bought a 6pack of Lancaster Winter Warmer as a reward. I had two that night and was extremely impressed. Now I’m going to give this sleeper a full review.

Review:
The beer pours a clear very dark brown with deep ruby hues and a modest off white to tan head. The head diminished fairly quickly to just a ring around top of the glass.

The nose is nice with rich dark malt aromas, interesting hop aromas and a sweetness that might be from alcohol. This is all with a very unique earthiness to these aromas.

Wow, this may be the Sleeper Ale of the Holiday season. I’m going to have a hard time describing this complex and warming Winter Warmer. First of all it is great to taste a beer called a Winter Warmer that is actually warming. So let me attempt to explain this ale.

This experience starts off with sweet dark malts up front then a building malt bitter, no more like a malt earthiness over the tongue in the middle of the sip. By the time you get to the top of the swallow this diminishes back to just a rich dark roasted malt flavor. The back end is fairly easy drinking but you can start to pick up the alcohol and bitterness during the swallow. The finish is fantastic with robust malt flavors, unique hop bitterness and the sweet taste of alcohol. The final aftertaste is that earthy malt flavor, Well, I’m assuming it’s from the malts. This is the same unique flavor that is found in German Alt beers. There is also the most pleasant warming effect from this brew.

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this beer.  And to think that I just picked it up on a whim not knowing anything about it. What a great find.

I’m a little more than half way through this glass but I’m going to let this set a few minutes and warm up a little. I’m curious to see how well it warms.

We are not at 65 degrees.

Ahhh, this is an excellent warmer, in more ways than one. This beer has really opened up. The malt flavors are not only richer they are smoother as well. The nose seems a little different now also. I am picking up nutty aromas from the malts that I did not notice earlier.

We are sitting at room temperature now.

This beer has been fantastic; excellent, even to the last warm drop.

Man, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this beer. And also what a surprise, I didn’t expect to get my socks blown off like this.

This is a Solid A and the Sleeper Beer of the Season! I was very impressed with this unique Olde Ale. The unique rich malt and hop flavors along with sweet alcohol and the most pleasant warming effect make this Alt the perfect Winter Warmer.

Hat’s off to Bill Moore and the crew at Lancaster Brewing on this excellent Winter Warmer.

I highly recommend this beer to anyone that is looking for a good Winter Warmer and at 8.9% ABV this Winter Warmer really is a Warmer.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bottle Returns


My son John came over the other night saying that he had some bottles to be returned to Delaware for the deposit. So I figured this would be a good excuse to get rid of some bottles that have been accumulation in my basement.

I actually have 3 sections of beer bottles in the basement. And yes she still loves me for some unknown reason. I have a set of keepers that I just want to keep the bottles to decorate that fantasy Man Cave with, another set to be returned to Delaware for the deposit and a third set that are bottles to be recycled that were bought in PA or Maryland.

So getting back to the story, I decided to get rid of my Delaware bottles. John and I both figured we would buy a few singles with our recovered monies.
We ended up with (7) cases of empties to go back to Delaware. Not bad since most of my beer is bought in Maryland. Plus I thought I just returned my Delaware bottles not to long ago.




Now we had $8.40 to treat ourselves for all the hard work in returning the bottles.
We ended up with a 6 pack of Lancaster Winter Warmer for our reward. 

I’ll be reviewing the Lancaster Winter Warmer next.

Harpoon Winter Warmer



Harpoon Winter Warmer

Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Winter Warmer

5.50% ABV






Commercial Description:
Harpoon Winter Warmer is a full-bodied rich ale that uses a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg to achieve its spirited flavor. Perfect for the holidays!
Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast, Flavoring (cinnamon and nutmeg). (RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.006pack, ~$29.00 case

Background:
No rhyme or reason on this one. I just picked up a few seasonal Christmas beers a couple of weeks ago to review. Based on my previous experience with a Harpoon Seasonal, Harpoon Celtic Ale I’m really not expecting much from this but you never know, this one could surprise me. This is one of those that I’m expecting the worst but hoping for the best, or at least something decent. So let’s see if this Winter Warmer has any surprises in store for us.

Review:
The beer pours a clear amber with ruby hues and a fairly rich off white head.

The nose is nice with caramel malt aromas and cinnamon. This actually is a very inviting nose. I can’t wait to take my first sip,

This is a nice tasting Christmas beer. There are very pleasant caramel almost toasted malt flavors and a very interesting light hop and cinnamon spice on the finish. I’m actually pretty impressed with that first sip.

The experience starts out with sweet caramel malts up front followed by a nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back end is very easy drinking there is also a carbonation release during the swallow that masks most of this beer’s flavors. But this adds a very refreshing quality to the beer that is quite enjoyable. As you come out of the swallow into the finish the real flavors start to come out of this brew. The finish is very flavorful with sweet malts, light hops and the most pleasant cinnamon spice flavor. At any rate it is a perfect Christmas flavor. The final aftertaste is some lingering malts and this great Christmas Spice.

Wow, I am pleasantly surprised by this beer. What a nice little Christmas beer. It’s really not a “Winter Warmer”, there is no warming effect and it is only 5.5 ABV. However it really is a very flavorful Christmas beer. I am really enjoying this one.

The beer has warmed a little to 55 degrees.

So far this beer has remained consistent. It has not picked up any off flavors or unpleasantness as it warms.

I’m not sure now much warmer this is going to get. This beer has such a refreshing quality it’s not going to stick around for long.

The head diminished to just a patchy island about a third the way down. It did however leave some moderate lacing.

Well, that’s all she wrote for this one. The glass is empty.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed this more because I expected something much worse so the surprise made it much better than it really is or if this really is that good of a beer. At any rate I really did enjoy it.

I can nit-pick about this and give it a low rating by saying it’s not a good Winter Warmer, which it isn’t. But this was such a flavorful and refreshing Christmas beer I’m going to cut it same slack. Actually I’m going to give this one a B. This is a solid B; a very flavorful Christmas Ale with nice malt flavors and the perfect amount of Christmas spice. This was a very enjoyable experience.

What a sleeper; I’m so glad I decided to pick this one up. I will most likely be going back for some more over the Holidays.

This is a nice clean and refreshing amber ale with just the right amount of spice to make it nice treat for the Holidays. I highly recommend this beer to anyone especially the common beer drinker that may be looking for something different but not extreme for the Holidays. I also encourage the beer snobs out there to give this one a try. Hopefully you will be as presently surprised as I was.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Samuel Adams Winter Lager 2010


Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company
(Samuel Adams)
Boston , Massachusetts, USA

Bock

5.60% ABV





Commercial Description:
Bold and rich, with a touch of holiday spice.

The first thing one notices about a Samuel Adams® Winter Lager is the deep ruby color. Then comes the magical aroma which promises something special on the tongue. The cinnamon, ginger, and hint of citrus from the orange peel blend with the roasty sweetness of the malts to deliver a warming, spicy flavor. On the palate Samuel Adams Winter Lager is rich and full bodied, robust and warming, a wonderful way to enjoy the cold evenings that come with the season.
(SamuelAdams.com)

General Pricing:
18oz bottle, ~$8.006pack ~$13.00 12pack, ~$30.00 case

Background:
I had this beer last year and actually did an impromptu review on an index card at the restaurant. Link 
I saw this at the store a few weeks ago and figured it was worth buying one to do a more formal review. I am also curious if they have changed this any for 2010.    

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark amber color with ruby hues and a fairly rich off white head.

The nose is nice with some caramel almost toasted malt aromas a hint of spice and with a gentle swirl of the glass a very nice floral hop aroma and citrus notes are also present.

Not bad, not bad at all. This is a very drinkable beer. It light for winter lager or bock but it has some very good flavors in it.

The taste starts out with sweet caramel malts up front, then a pleasant effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The malt and spice flavors start to build slightly as you get to the top of the swallow. This is very easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The finish has some nice flavors; sweet almost toasted malts, notes of spice and some citrus along with a light floral hop finish. The hops are just enough to dry a little without any bitterness. The final after taste is, well, I want to say harsh but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It is a typical none-smooth or non-ale like lager finish. That’s not bad it’s just the way it is, lagers typically are more harsh or harder than ales.


All and all this is pretty good beer. I was a little tough describing the finish and final aftertaste but this is not bad. I think this is better than last years. I don’t want to describe this as complexity but there is more going on with flavors in this year’s beer.

The malt flavor intensifies a little as it warms.  It also is getting a little harsher as it warms. None the less there are still some interesting notes in this beer.

I’m going for a C+ on this one. There is a slight harshness or hardness on the finish and final aftertaste that’s keeping me from giving it a B. I am very pleased with this brew. There is nothing over the top or exceptional, it is just a nice drinkable dark lager or bock with some interesting notes.