Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Samuel Adams Longshot Blackened Hops



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

American Black Ale

7.00% ABV




Commercial Description:
This enigmatic ale is a surprise for the senses, with its black color hinting at roasted malt and coffee notes, but its big hop character really stealing the show. Packed with citrusy and piney American hops for a big flavor and clean bitterness, this brew will keep you on your toes through to the last sip.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$8.50-$11.00 6 pack, ~$31.00-$45.00 case


Background:
This is one of the winners of the 2010 longshot competition. The competition is run by Samuel Adams. It’s a home brew competition with the winners being announced at the GABF (Great American Beer Festival). Then the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) brews the winner’s beer. I make it a point each year to by a 6 pack of the Longshot winners. They are usually very unique and well crafted beers. Plus I just think it’s the coolest thing, to have a brewer commercially sell the Home Brew Beer.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown almost totally opaque with just a hint of ruby hues showing from the bottom dimple of this cervoise glass. This pour also produced very rich dark tan head.

The nose is delightful with dark roasted malt aromas with esters of dark fruit and notes of chocolate along with cinnamon? Maybe that is the hop aromas mixed with the other aromas that I’m sensing as cinnamon.

What was that? Man this is different for me. Sorry, it’s good really good but confusing. It has the dark malt flavors and mouthfeel of a creamy a stout but the body is lighter more like a brown ale. At any rate it’s good, Very Good. But it is another one that’s going to be hard to describe.

The experience starts out with a rich dark roasted malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. Then there is the most pleasant smoothness over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end has a robustness and hesitation on the swallow but an overall ease to it. Yes, I realize there is a conflict there. The creamy smoothness carries through the swallow into the finish. The finish is more like a dry Irish stout without the sharp roasted malt robustness. This is very interesting. It has the rich malt flavors of a robust porter or lighter stout but it’s lighter more like an English brown. Well maybe not that light. See I told you that I would have a hard time with this one. The final aftertaste is rich with lingering dark roasted malt flavors and a slight lingering hop dryness.

This is fantastic. Imagine a smooth creamy stout almost like a milk stout with the dryness of an Irish Dry stout like O’Hara’s or Sly Fox O’Riellys but an overall lighter mouthfeel and body like a porter plus a refreshing aspect to it more like an English Brown. It’s rich, smooth, hoppy and very easy drinking. I have never had all of this work so well in a beer before.

Wow, this is impressive to have such a rich robust beer be so easy drinking and enjoyable.

The rich head on this beer has never quit. It has diminished to a very rich protective layer over the top of the beer. It is also leaving some impressive lacing on the glass.

This beer is a solid A maybe even an A+. Rich malty goodness with a pleasant hop dryness and the ease of drinking with a lighter overall body and creamy mouthfeel. What an unusual and delightful beer.



Samuel Adams Longshot Friar Hop Ale



Longshot Friar Hop Ale
           
Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Belgian IPA

9.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
Richard Roper’s brew combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales. The toasty caramel sweetness from the malt and Belgian candi sugar are balanced by distinct citrus hop notes, spicy yeast fermentation and hunts of orange and coriander. (RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$8.50-$11.00 6 pack, ~$31.00-$45.00 case


Background:
This is one of the winners of the 2010 longshot competition. The competition is run by Samuel Adams. It’s a home brew competition with the winners being announced at the GABF (Great American Beer Festival). Then the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) brews the winner’s beer. I make it a point each year to by a 6 pack of the Longshot winners. They are usually very unique and well crafted beers. Plus I just think it’s the coolest thing, to have a brewer commercially sell the Home Brew Beer.

Review:
The beer pours a clear copper color with amber hues and an off white head.

The nose is delightful with sweet light malt aromas along with aromas a citrus and spice. This almost smells like a wheat beer with notes of banana and clove.

Ahhhh, that’s nice! What a great first sip. This has all the great classic flavors of a Belgian Pale Ale.

There is a light malt sweetness up front then a nice refreshing effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is fairly easy drinking but there is a slight robustness during the swallow into the finish. The finish is packed with classic Belgian flavors; yeasty citrus and spice notes along with a nice hoppiness and sweet alcohol. There is very little of a final aftertaste just some lingering notes of spice and citrus.

I just downed on me that the slight hesitation on the swallow is from the alcohol. I just noticed that this was 9%. The alcohol is pretty well masked on this beer. I would have not suspected 9%, it feels more like 7. Its funny know that I know the alcohol is high there seems to be a warming effect from this beer.

All and all I’m really impressed with this beer. It has the great qualities that I like in Piraat and HoublonChouffe.

The hops in this beer at no point overtake the flavors. This beer is full of great flavors of light malts, citrus and spice with a hop finish that dries with a bite but does not overpower the ale.

I was a little hesitant when I saw that this was a Belgian IPA. Most of the American versions of a Belgian IPA for far short of the style for me. That is certainly not the case with this one. This is a solid A for me. What a great beer!


  


Samuel Adams Longshot Honey B's Lavender Ale



Longshot Honey B's Lavender Ale
           
Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Herbed / Spiced Beer

5.50% ABV





Commercial Description:
Caitlin DeClercq created her Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat with dried lavender petals, giving it a fragrant but soft aroma. A citrus tartness and slight sweetness from the honey and vanilla balance out the finish in this California resident’s brew, perfect to sip while kicking back and relaxing.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$8.50-$11.00 6 pack, ~$31.00-$45.00 case


Background:
This is one of the winners of the 2010 longshot competition. The competition is run by Samuel Adams. It’s a home brew competition with the winners being announced at the GABF (Great American Beer Festival). Then the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) brews the winner’s beer. I make it a point each year to by a 6 pack of the Longshot winners. They are usually very unique and well crafted beers. Plus I just think it’s the coolest thing, to have a brewer commercially sell the Home Brew Beer.

Review:
The beer pours a clear pale copper with yellow hues and a fairly rich bright white head.

The nose is extremely unique with sweet light floral aromas, citrus, honey and it may be me but I am really picking up lavender along with a nice floral hops. I can’t wait to see what this taste like. There is a certain excitement in the anticipation wondering how these aromas are going to convert to flavors in this beer. I can’t wait to try this.

Wow, that is one of the most original beers I have ever had. It is packed with subtle and refreshing flavors and that creamy head has added a silky mouthfeel. It’s going to be difficult describing this one.

The experience starts out with a light pilsner type malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by the most pleasant effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The middle of the sip also has a building spiciness to it. At first you think that it’s a building hop bitterness but then it changes before you get to the swallow to more of a floral laden spice; very unusual. The back-end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that continues to mask the flavors of the beer and keeps you guessing and anticipating the next taste. The finish is almost indescribable with sweet malts, honey, spice, citrus and a touch of floral hops to dry it. There is a sweet and refreshing aspect to the final aftertaste. The aftertaste is light but there is a lingering spicy and sweet flavors lingering throughout the mouth.

All of these flavors are subtle and this beer maintains the most refreshing quality to it through the whole experience.

The lacing left of the glass has been quite impressive for such a light malt ale.

This is an excellent summer ale. It may be a little too sweet for me to have several of but it is a very refreshing beer.

As the beer warms the flavors seem to get more intense. They are not overpowering and it still maintains a refreshing quality but the flavors are stronger and spicier now that it has opened up a little.

I’m going for an A on this one. It really is one of the most original and refreshing beers that I have ever had. I have a fond appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that blends together the subtle complexities of citrus, honey, lavender, and floral hops to create the most refreshing summer ale. What a tremendous experience.



  



Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale



Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, California, USA

Belgian Strong Pale Ale

9.50% ABV





Commercial Description:
This ninth edition of our Stone Vertical Epic Ale series takes two interesting left turns. A Belgian-style golden triple is the starting point of this beer, but the first left turn is nearly immediate with the addition of dried chamomile flowers, triticale, and Belgian amber candi sugar. The second, and rather unusual left turn takes us half an hour up the road from Stone to Temecula courtesy of the addition of just-pressed Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from our friends at South Coast Winery. As the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series has moved through the calendar, we found that the brewing schedule for a 10.10.10 release coincided nicely with the grape harvest, neatly providing an interesting twist in this epic ale.
(RateBeer.com)


General Pricing:
22 oz bottles: ~$8.00 each

Background:
I bought this back in October when it first came out. I put it in the beer fridge just before Thanksgiving and it has been sitting there ever since. This is not the recommended way to treat beer. I typically store the beer in the cellar and then chill it just before serving. In this case time got the better of me and I never got around to reviewing it. So do as I say not as I do. Store or age the beer in the cellar and then chill just before serving.

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

The nose is delightful with sweet light malt aromas with yeasty notes of citrus and spice. This is very inviting I can’t wait to dive into it.

That’s a strong Belgian Pale for sure. The only thing this is missing is that touch of yeasty Belgian Funk.

The experience starts out with a malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue then an almost creamy sensation over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking for such an ale. There is a slight hesitation on the top of the swallow, I’m assuming that’s from the alcohol. The finish has all the flavors of a Belgian Strong Pale but it is lacking those funky yeasty notes of a bottle conditioned Belgian Ale. There is slight final aftertaste on this beer. Not much just a hint of lingering sweetness.

This is a very enjoyable ale but I was expecting something more from this Vertical Epic series.

This beer is also a bit one dimensional. It’s a good tasking strong pale but there is no real complexity. Again that in itself is not a problem but you, well I, expect some complexity from a Belgian.

As this warms you can really taste the sweet alcohol. The overall beer has not seemed to open up any. The only real difference is the noticeable sweet alcohol on the finish.

For a rating I’m giving this a B-. All and all this was a good American representation of a Belgian Strong Pale. However it was very one dimensional and lacking the normal complexity of the Belgian Style.




Magic Hat Blind Faith


Blind Faith

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Burlington, Vermont, USA

English India Pale Ale (IPA)

6.20% ABV






Commercial Description:
...created to aid in deciphering the puzzles along life’s road, and interpreting signs in the voyages of the spirit. Brewed in homage to the wisdom of visionaries everywhere who blaze paths into uncharted territories. Our take on an India Pale Ale (IPA.) A deep golden amber ale with a rich up-front malty nose finishing with a big, hoppy bite. Dry-hopped to finish with a big fresh (Cascade) hop flavor. Fermented with our 150 year old strain of top-fermenting yeast.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: ~$8.00 6 pack, ~$30.00 case

Background:
This one showed up in the beer fridge. I assume it was leftovers from my daughter Molly.
She brought several of these home a few weeks ago. I guess I managed to hold on to one to review.


Review:
The beer pours a clear rich amber color with orange hues and an off white head.

The nose is very inviting with sweet caramel almost toasted malt aromas along with a very pleasant floral hop aroma.

Not a bad IPA. Sorry, that was a better reaction than it sounded. I’m not a hop head so not bad to me is probably outstanding to others.

The experience starts out with a subtle sweetness up front, then a very pleasant effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is also a slight robust hopiness building in the middle of the sip towards the back-end. The back-end is fairly easy drinking and quite refreshing. There is release of carbonation during the swallow that adds to the refreshing aspect of this beer. This carbonation also masked some of the flavors during the swallow. The finish is great! Sweet caramel malts and the most pleasant hop bite. The hops are not overpowering at all; they actually maintain a more floral note to them. There is a slight lingering bite on the aftertaste but not the typical American IPA bitterness. This is really good.

Throughout the experience there is an interesting complexity. The hop bitterness in the middle of the sip is different from that on the back-end and again even more different hop experience on the finish. I love these beers that give you a complexity of experience.

This is not all about the hops either. This is an expertly balanced ale. The caramel malt flavors stay with you through the whole experience.

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

I don’t have my thermometer with me but this has to be close to room temperature by now.

It warms up nicely. There are no off flavors whatsoever. It seems as if both the malt and hop flavors have intensified. It is less carbonated now so it does not have that refreshing quality to it but boy is this still good.

I’m going for an A- on this one. I am really impressed with this IPA. If all IPA’s tasted like this than I could call myself a hophead. This is really one of the best IPA’s I’ve ever had. It is well balanced with sweet caramel malts and a very complex hop bitterness that is never overwhelming.



Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat



Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat

Brewed by:
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, USA

Witbier

4.90% ABV





Commercial Description:
If you've ever experienced a Northwoods sunset, you know it's a moment unlike any other. So instead of putting it into words, we captured the Northwoods' finest moment in every batch of our all-new Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. Brewed with malted wheat, Cluster hops and natural coriander, Sunset Wheat has a soothing taste that will leave you speechless. It's like your very own sunset in a bottle.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: ~$7.50-$8.00 6 pack, ~$29.00 case

Background:
This is another gift from my friend Gene. I have had some hits and misses with Leinenkugel over the years. Some, like the Summer Sandy I love and others just fall short of the mark. I have not had this one so I’m really looking forward to it. Lets see what this Wit is make of.


Review:
The beer pours a hazy rich golden yellow with a bright white head.

The nose is mostly sweet citrus aromas on a yeasty background.

That was a very refreshing first sip; sweet wheat malt with the most refreshing citrus finish. This will make a great summer picnic beer.

The taste starts out with a wheat malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue then the most pleasant and refreshing washing over the tongue throughout the middle of the sip. The back-end is extremely easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The finish is also refreshing with sweet citrus notes along with a very low hop bitterness. There is a very pleasant citrus and wheat aftertaste. It’s not very strong or lingering and it adds to the refreshing aspect of this beer.

As soon as you’re done with one sip you can’t wait to do it all over again.

This is going to be a short review since the glass is almost empty already.

This is a very unique and enjoyable beer. It’s not quite a Belgian Wit; it does not have the spice and sharpness of a Belgian. It is however extremely refreshing and easy drinking, more like an American Wheat beer.

All and all I’m going for a B- on this one. This is an excellent summer beer; clean and refreshing with just enough citrus notes to refresh without giving that artificial lemonade flavor. What a great summer beer. I wish I had more than one of these.

Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve

  
Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Brewed by:
Flying Fish Brewing Company
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA

Belgian Strong Pale Ale

7.20% ABV





Commercial Description:
This strong golden ale showcases a variety of the ingredients and brewing methods that help differentiate Flying Fish beers. The Grand Cru is fermented at a higher temperature than our other beers adding an undercurrent of fruitiness (although there is no fruit in the beer). Very lightly filtered, the Grand Cru exhibits complex mouthfeel, strong malt flavors, a spicy hop presence and a soothing alcohol warmth, followed by a clean, dry finish. Bottle conditioned, it is excellent with food as well as served by itself.

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: ~$8.00 6 pack

Background:
This was a gift from my pastor. We just had a very successful Craft Beer Event fundraiser and he gave this to me as little thank you. I thought that I have had this before but I really don’t remember what it was like and it was not on my current spread sheet. So lets see what this Belgian Strong Pale has in store for us.

Review:
The beer pours a hazy golden yellow with orange hues and a bright white head.

The nose is delightful with light pilsner type malt aromas with sweet citrus and alcohol notes on a yeasty background.

Man, that’s a nice tasting ale. It’s not the best Belgian Strong Pale but it’s very good. This beer does have all the flavors of an authentic Belgian Pale.

The taste starts out with sweet pale malts up front then the most pleasant mouthfeel over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is very smooth and easy drinking. The finish is great with those classic Belgian flavors with yeasty sweet citrus tang, almost funky along with pale malts and a slight hop dryness. It is really nice to experience this in an American version of this style. There are also nice refreshing notes of citrus and sweet alcohol on the finish. The final aftertaste has a slightly lingering yeasty citrus note.  

The head diminished fairly quickly but it has left some pretty impressive lacing throughout the experience.

The Belgians styles are my favorite styles of beer. There are too many American brewers that attempt these styles but fall far short of duplicating it. This one however is pretty good.  There is a unique quality to a Belgian Ale that comes from the bottle conditioning. This quality has those unique sour and yeasty notes, usually referred to as Belgian Funk. Although I would not call this one funky it comes pretty darn close.

This may be lacking some of the expected complexity of a Belgian but all and all I’m pretty impressed with this ale.

I’m going for a B on this one. Flying Fish as really come close to mastering the uniqueness of the Belgian Strong Pale. This is a delightful and somewhat refreshing beer with nice Belgian flavors and that touch of that “Funk” that can only be found in the Belgians.