Monday, October 31, 2011

Otter Creek Imperial India Pale Ale Aged from 2009


Otter Creek Imperial India Pale Ale
Aged from 2009

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

American Double / Imperial IPA

11.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
Malts: 2-row Munich, Carapils, Caramel 60L, Caramel 20L, Wheat. Hops: Bravo, Apollo, Amarillo, Simcoe.  
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
22 oz bottle: ~$7.00 each

Background:
It’s a cold snowy night in October, yes I said snowy. We are in a middle of an unusual fall snow storm. I was looking around the house for something to take the chill off and I remembered that I was cellaring one of these since 2009. I reviewed this beer back in the fall of 2009. At the time I thought that the beer was too intense with hops and alcohol and that it was lacking any malt balance. I also thought that it would be interesting to see how it aged; would the hops mellow? Would the malts create more balance as they age? So let’s see what happens to an intense imperial IPA after cellaring for two years.

Review:
The beer pours a slightly hazy amber with deep ruby hues and a very rich and lasting off white head. As a side note I do have to mention that there is a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. The fresh version does not have sediment.

The nose has very pleasant caramel malt aromas on the nose along with sweet alcohol and a mild hop presence. The hop aromas are subtle but complex with mostly floral and earthy notes.

I can’t to see how this tastes.

Wow, what a great first sip; rich and warming. This is a perfect beer for a cold snowy night, even if it is only October.

The experience starts out with malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is immediately followed by a hop robustness the builds throughout the middle of the sip. The back-end is pretty intense with a large hesitation on the top of the swallow.
The warming effect almost hits you before the finish. The finish is also intense with rich caramel malt flavors, a robust hop complexity and sweet alcohol. There is a lingering robust hop aftertaste. The hop experience is very rich and intense but the bitterness has mellowed.

This is a very smooth big beer whose hop intensity has mellowed with age.

I’m really enjoying this big beer.

I let the second glass warm to room temperature.

The beer did not pick up any new flavors or character as it warmed.

It’s interesting how the character of the beer changed but this beer did not develop any as it warmed. I guess I was expecting more complexity now after two years in the cellar.

I’m going for a B maybe a B+ for the aged Imperial IPA. This beer did get better over time. Aging this beer mellowed the intense hop flavors and brought out a richer malt character.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale


Southampton Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by:
Southampton Publick House
Southampton, New York USA

Pumpkin Ale

5.50% ABV






Commercial Description:
Our Autumn amber brew with the unmistakable flavor of “pumpkin pie” is available now through Thanksgiving in 12 oz bottles and seasonal draft.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottle: ~$9.00 6 pack

Background:
This was a gift from my friend Gonzalo. I have had a lot of good beers from Southampton but I have not had their pumpkin ale yet. I’m really looking forward to this.

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

The nose has some caramel malt aromas but it is mostly pumpkin spice.

Not a bad first sip. I was expecting it to be mostly spice but this as some nice pumpkin flavor to it as well.

It starts out with a light sweetness up front followed by a effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that adds a refreshing quality to the experience and masks some of the flavors. The finish is very nice with caramel malt flavors along with floral hops, real pumpkin flavor and of course a good dose of pumpkin spices. The final aftertaste is of a lingering pumpkin spice.

All and all this is a very nice pumpkin ale. It really does have some nice pumpkin flavor along with the spicy notes.

I’m going for a B on this one. This beer has a good pumpkin flavor along with nice caramel malts and pumpkin spice.

DuClaw 13 Degrees


13 (Thirteen) Degrees

Brewed by:
DuClaw Brewing Company
Abingdon, Maryland USA

Hefeweizen

4.80% ABV






Commercial Description:
Get ready to cheat fate with a foreboding potion of wheat and barley malt temptation. Pure and unfiltered, the first taste forewarns the unsuspecting of spicy clove and smooth banana lurking around the corner.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottle: ~$9.00 6 pack

Background:
I picked up a 6pack of this a while back and left one setting in the beer fridge since then to review. I remember having it back then but I can’t remember how good it was. So lets see what 13 degrees has in store for us.

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

The nose is classic Hefeweizen with citrus, banana and clove notes. This is very inviting I can’t wait to delve into it.

Well, that’s a Hefeweizen all right. That first sip was pretty good; all the flavors and notes of a classic Hefeweizen.

The taste starts out with a light wheat malt sweetness up front followed by a cleansing effervescence in mid-sip. The back end is extremely easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The finish is light and refreshing with wheat flavors and notes of citrus, banana and clove. The final aftertaste is light but with noticeable banana and clove notes.

The beer is extremely light and refreshing. It may be too light and refreshing for the style but still good none the less.

There are two other notes to make about this beer. There was not any real wheat sediment on the bottom of the glass. I did the typical end of the bottle swirl and did not notice any sediment back in the glass.

Also this beer did not produce much of a head and it diminished quickly then completely disappeared.

I’m going for a B- on this one. It is a very good tasting and refreshing Hefe but it is lacking some the richness of the style.
 

Wolavers Pumpkin Ale 2011


Wolavers Pumpkin Ale
2011

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

Pumpkin Ale

4.80% ABV





Commercial Description:
Generous use of Vermont grown organic pumpkins artfully blended with four fresh organic spices craft this seasonal treat.
(RateBeer.com)

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

Background:
I reviewed that a few years ago back in the fall of 2009 under the name Wolaver's Will Stevens' Pumpkin Ale. I noticed the new label this year and the drop of the Will Stevens name so I figured it was time to re-visit this seasonal Pumpkin Ale.

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

The nose is great! This pumpkin ale actually has real pumpkin aromas on the nose not just pumpkin spice.

Ahh what nice ale; smooth and full of pumpkin and spice flavors.

The experience starts with a touch of sweetness up front followed by a smooth and almost creamy mouthfeel over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is very easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The finish is where this beer pulls it all together. The finish has great almost caramel malt flavors along with pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavors. The pumpkin flavors on this beer are for real not artificial. There are also some nice pumpkin spices on this beer. 

This may be the best real pumpkin flavored pumpkin ale on the market today. Most of the pumpkin ales that I have had should be called pumpkin spice beer because that’s mostly what you get, the spice. With this one you get real pumpkin flavor.

We have warmed to almost room temperature and this beer has not picked up any off flavors. That is always impressive to me.

I’m giving this wonderful natural tasting pumpkin ale an A. This may rival Post Road as my new gold standard for the style. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Otter Creek Oktoberfest 2011

Otter Creek Oktoberfest
2011

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

American Amber / Red Ale
BeerAdvocate.com

Oktoberfest/Marzen
RateBeer.com

4.80% ABV

Commercial Description:
Brewed with Hallertau and Tettnang hops to balance its clean, malty sweetness, it's the perfect brew for a crisp Autumn day. Available from September to November. (RateBeer.com)

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

Background:
I just realized that I have reviewed this beer before, back in the Fall of 2009. Although the label said Otter Creek Oktoberfest I reviewed it as an American Amber Ale going by BeerAdvocate’s style category. Now I’m just confused if this is an Oktoberfest (lager) or Amber ale. I guess I’ll just have to see how it goes.

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

The nose is very pleasant with rich caramel malt and light floral hop aromas.

What’s a nice Oktoberfest; rich caramel malt flavors but also very refreshing.

The experience starts out with malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by a refreshing cleansing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The finish is very nice with caramel malt flavors along with a nice floral hop bite at the end. There is not much of a lingering aftertaste, just some sweet malt.

All and all this is a very nice, easy drinking beer. I am really enjoyable this one.

This is a B+ to A- for an American Amber Ale. I’m not sure I would give it such a good rating for an authentic Oktoberfest. It is lacking some of that German malt flavor to be a great Oktoberfest.

Guinness Black Lager



Guinness Black Lager

Brewed by:
Guinness Ltd.
Ireland

Euro Dark Lager

4.50% ABV








Commercial Description:
Guinness Black Lager is cold-brewed with roasted barley to deliver the refreshing taste of lager with the unique character of Guinness. Enjoy ice cold straight from the bottle. (RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottle: ~$7.00 6 pack, ~$25.00 case

Background:
This was another gift from my friend Gene. I did not know Guinness had a black lager. This should be an interesting review.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown almost completely opaque with just a hint of amber hues showing at the bottom of the glass. This beer also produced a fairly rich tan head.

The nose is modest with dark toasted malt aromas.

That’s a nice drinkable black lager. That first sip was a smooth as porter ale not a typical black lager. This may be very interesting indeed.

The taste starts out with a dark malt sweetness up front but that is followed by a cleansing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back end is very easy drinking with an effortless swallow. The carbonation release during the swallow adds a refreshing aspect to the beer and masks some flavors. The finish is modest but very pleasant with nice dark toasted malt flavors along with a subtle hop finish. The finish is surprisingly dry for such a dark beer. There is very little of a final aftertaste just some lingering toasted malt flavors.

This is a very smooth and refreshing beer. I’m really quite surprised on how good it is. It may be too light and refreshing for the style and will probably not get good reviews. But it has been very enjoyable to me so far.

We are now at 63 degrees
Finally I’m starting to pick up some more robust malt flavors as this beer warms and opens up a little.

I let this get to room temperature and it has not picked up any unpleasantness whatsoever. Actually I’m impressed with how good it still tastes.

I’m going for an A- on this one. This was a very impressive black lager, very refreshing with nice dark toasted malt flavors with a clean finish. I went back and looked at my previous black lager reviews and it looks like this was the best so far.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

16 Mile Amber Sun Ale


Amber Sun Ale
(Glass Bottle)

Brewed by:
16 Mile Brewing Company, Inc.
Georgetown, Delaware, USA

American Amber / Red Ale

6.10% ABV





Commercial Description:
Amber Sun Ale– Roasty finishing malts, balanced with just enough bitterness provides a traditional amber ale that is dark red to the eye, but not heavy on the palate. 16 Mile names this premium amber ale for the famous sunsets found at the Breakwater Lighthouse located off of Lewes Beach, Delaware.
(16milebrewery.com)

Background:
I reviewed this Amber Sun Ale from a 22 oz bottle shaped can back in the summer. It was not very good. Actually I don’t think I finished it. But I did remember thinking that it may be an artifact of the can and that I would re-visit it if they produced the beer in a glass bottle. Well, my buddy Gene found it in a 12 oz glass bottle and gave me one. So it looks like it’s time to re-visit this one.

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

The nose is modest but nice with caramel malt and light floral hop aromas.

The first sip was not bad, not impressive but not bad either.

The taste starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front followed by effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release on the swallow that masks some flavors and adds a nice refreshing quality to the beer. The finish is pleasant with nice caramel malt flavors. There is a questionable bite at the end of the finish. I’m not really sure if it’s all hops or something else. There is not much of a final aftertaste just some slight lingering malt flavors.

All and all this is not a bad tasting beer. I’m not sure how good it is but it’s not offensive. I’m going to let this warm up a little and see what happens.

We are now at 65 degrees.

We are picking up some unpleasantness. There is a definite harshness on the finish and final aftertaste now. But overall this is still a drinkable beer.

I think there is a noticeable improvement from what I had in the bottle/can a few months ago. I don’t think I finished that one. This is still not a great beer but at least it is a drinkable C out of a glass bottle.

Sly Fox Route 113 India Pale Ale



Route 113 India Pale Ale

Brewed By:
Sly Fox Brewing Company
Royersford, Pennsylvania, USA

American IPA

7.00% ABV






Commercial Description:
A big, strong IPA for all the hopheads out there, brewed with British Pale and Caramel malts, and hopped with Centennial, Cascade, German Tradition, UK East Kent Goldings & Styrian Goldings. Bold and spicy. 16.5 OG 113 IBUs 6.6% ABV


Background:
I sampled this beer back in May at the Holy Saviour Parish Craft Beer Event. I remember being impressed with how the high IBU’s were artfully masked. My friend Joe was also impressed with this beer and bought a case of it. He then in turn gave me this one to review. Thanks Joe, I can’t wait to finally delve into it.

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

The nose is nice with caramel malt aromas and the most pleasant hop complexity.

Wow, that’s an IPA that I can love. What a great first sip.

The experience starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is immediately followed by a tingling effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is also a slight hop robustness growing toward the back-end. The back-end is very easy drinking for an IPA with an almost effortless swallow. The hop robustness continues to build during the swallow into the finish. The finish is great; excellently balanced with rich caramel malt flavors and a wonderful complex hop bite. The hops in this beer are never overpowering or bitter. Amazing for a 113 IBU beer. There final aftertaste is of lingering hops but more floral and citrus not bitterness. There is also a nice sweetness on the aftertaste.

This is a great IPA. I may have to do a head to head with Great Divide Titan and Evolution Lot #3 to see how has the best American IPA.

The head on this beer has not quit. It has diminished to just a thin protective layer over the top of the beer with a nice ring around the class and it is leaving some very impressive lacing.

This experience just keeps getting better as the beer warms and opens up a little.

The hop complexity is also very impressive. The hop flavors range across the board, Citrus, Pine, Floral and Earthy; all without being overpowering or bitter.

We are only at 60 degrees; I can’t wait to see what happens as this delicious beer really warms up.

The second glass pours with a creamier head.

Wow, that rich head added the creamiest mouthfeel to that sip. All and all this second glass seems richer and smoother than the first.

This beer is going from great to exquisite as it warms.

I’m now at the point that I’m savoring every bit of this delicious ale. What a great experience.

We are now at 67 degrees.

The malt flavors are just outstanding at these temperatures and that great hop bite is still there on the finish. This is starting to feel full and satisfying like an imperial/double IPA but without the high alcohol.

Well, that was another excellent offering from Sly Fox and this one was good to the last warm drop.

This is a solid A+ for me. Rt. 113 is full bodied excellently balance IPA with rich caramel malt flavors and the most exquisite hop complexity; all without being overpowering or bitter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mr Beer Octoberfest Vienna Lager Home Brew



Mr. Beer Octoberfest Vienna Lager

Brewed by:
Remaley and Daughter
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, USA

Vienna Lager

3.7 % ABV






Background:
My 9 year old daughter Frances and I brewed this beer back in May. It was a cool home school science project for her and just a blast for me. I did sample this a week or so after bottling and was not very impressed with it. It tasted all right but there was a green apple bite to it that didn’t seem to belong. So 5 months later lets see what the Mr. Beer home brew has in store for us.


Review:
The beer pours a clear dark amber with copper/orange hues and a off white head.

The nose is modest but pleasant with caramel malt and light floral hop aromas.

Not a bad first sip. I’m not sure it’s good but it’s not bad.

The taste starts out with a slight sweetness up font on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by a tingling effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is vey easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that adds a refreshing quality to the beer. The finish is just OK. There are caramel malt flavors and a nice bite. I’m not sure if the bite is from the hops or not. There is also a grassy note on finish with a slight green apple flavor. That may be giving the beer more bite than the hops. There is not much of a final aftertaste, just a slight lingering malt sweetness.

This beer is drinkable for sure. I just thought it would be better than this since I let it sit since May. I guess it’s that grassy/grainy bite on the finish that is setting me back.

The more I drink it the more I’m getting accustomed to the green apple. At this point I hardly notice it. This is really not too bad. I still hope it will get better with age.

Well there is not much more I can say about this. I still have one bottle I let sit for a few more months, maybe up to a year and try it again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mr Beer English Nut Brown Home Brew



Mr. Beer English Nut Brown

Brewed by:
Remaley and Sons
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, USA

English Brown

3.7 % ABV






Background:
Well it’s now October, the traditional month to start brewing again. (Traditional German Brewing Season is October to March) I’m pretty confident that I will be doing my first real batch of home brew this month. But before I do I thought I would recap and post reviews of the Mr. Beer home brew that my son John and did back in August 2010. We had a blast with this Mr. Beer Home Brew. I had this kit for several years (like 10) and never used it. We finally bought a new ingredients kit and gave it a whirl. We did notice a big mistake when finished. The new kit new kit came with a booster pack what we did not use. My old instruction did not mention the booster pack but suggested to add more table sugar to boost the ABV.  The following is three separate reviews or tastings of this home brew.


8-23-10
First Tasting, two weeks after bottling
The beer pours a nice amber color with copper hues and a modest white head. The head diminished to just a ring around the top of the beer in just a few minutes.

The nose has sweet toasted malt aromas and some light floral hops. There is also an interested sweetness and yeasty notes.

This is odd, it’s just not right. It is missing something and there is an odd tang or tinge to it. I suspect that this is just too young and needs to set for at least another week or two.

It smells better than it taste, that’s for sure.

I don’t think I’m going to do the normal play by play. This is going to be more of a taste test for quality control.

It’s not bad. As my son John just said we have spent money on much worse and he is right on that.

For a first time home brew it is very much a drinkable beer. But I can’t say it is a good beer.

There is an odd harshness and tang in the back end and finish. This is also accompanied by a yeasty note was well. I assume that this is because the bottle conditioning is not complete yet and this should go at least another week. There is also little to no malt flavor in this beer. Again this may be remedied by a little aging.

On a more positive note; the color and nose is really nice. So for now two out of three ain’t bad.

I’ll have to revisit this next week.

9-7-10
Four weeks after bottling

The nose is still nice with sweet caramel malts and floral hops. Also the color has not changed. So like the first tasting it looks good and smells good. So let’s see if the taste improved any.

Not bad. The flavors are still a little light for an English Brown but than again I really can’t compare this to anything else.

This is actually a very refreshing beer. The taste starts out with sweet caramel malt up front but that only last for a split second. It is immediately replaced by effervescence and an almost tingling sensation over the tongue. This continues throughout the middle of the sip. The back end has a building harshness to it. This harshness carries through to the finish. The finish is fairly dry with very little of a final aftertaste. What is left is a slight light malt flavor.

I guess this is drinkable but it’s not really enjoyable.

The good news is that this is encouraging me to learn more and brew a better beer next time.

10-22-11
We are more than a year since we brewed this beer back in August of 2010. 

This is the last bottle that I have been cellaring in the beer cabinet.

The beer pours a clear dark copper with amber hues and a diminishing off white head.

The nose is modest but pleasant with caramel malt aromas with light floral hops along with some grassy notes.

Well, it’s probably the best tasting yet. It’s still very grassy with a green apple finish but highly drinkable.

It starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front then a tingling effervescence over the tongue during the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is another carbonation release during the swallow. The finish is not too bad. There are nice malt flavor but some not so nice green apple flavors mixed in. There is not much of a final aftertaste just some lingering sweet caramel malts.

All and all this is pretty drinkable; it has certainly gotten better over time.

The more I drink this the more I like it. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that good but it is drinkable.

There is a nice malt robustness now that I did not notice on the previous (younger) tastings. The beer now looks and tastes like an English Brown. I’ll have to look back at other pictures but his seems a little darker also.

I’m letting this warm up a little and it’s staying pretty good. It is not picking up anything offensive anyway.

The malt flavors are actually nice and the grassiness and green apple taste seems to be diminishing as it warms and opens up a little.

I’m not going to give any of these a rating. The one lesson learned here is that home brew gets better as it ages.

Rogue XS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter


XS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Newport, Oregon, USA

Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

7.10% ABV





Commercial Description:
YSB is amber in color with a mild hoppy finish. Brewed with a blend of 2-row Harrington and Crystal malts, Willamette and East Kent Golding hops.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
7 oz bottle: ~$5.00 each

Background:
I can’t really remember where this one came from. It’s been sitting in the beer fridge to review for quite a while.

Review:
The beer pours a hazy dark copper with orange hues and diminishing off white head.

The nose is modest with light but almost caramel malt and floral hop aromas.

Well, that was different. This is a most unusual ESB. It feels like should be a big beer but there is no notice of alcohol just a full bodied ale.

The experience starts out with a caramel malt sweetness up front. That is followed by a very smooth mouthfeel with a building robustness in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow. The finish is very nice with rich malts and floral hops. There is a lingering malt aftertaste and just a hint of hop bite.

As this beer warms it is really opening up. The malt flavors are more robust now. This is feeling more like a big beer but without the alcohol.

I’m going for B+ for this most unusual ESB. That may be low but I have nothing to compare this ESB experience to. There is nothing comparable to this in the style. It’s like taking a great ESB and aging it for 10 years.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boxcar India Pale Ale (Belgian Yeast)



Boxcar India Pale Ale
(Belgian Yeast)

Brewed by:
Boxcar Brewing Co.
West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Belgian IPA

7.20% ABV





Commercial Description:
Our IPA is a deep golden color ale with a white lingering creamy head. There are hints of citrus and tropical fruits and resinous hops throughout this well-balanced brew, which will compliment food quite well. Pace yourself, this IPA goes down a lot smoother than the ABV would suggest.

Color: Golden
ABV: 7.2%
Hops: Summit (bittering) / Palisades (aroma) / First Gold (dry)
Malt: Pilsner (base)
Available: Year round in 12 oz. bottles and draft.
(BoxcarBrewingCompany.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$30.00 each

Background:
I stopped in to see the boys at Boxcar a few weeks back to pick up some door prizes and raffle items for my last beer event. Among the gifts were a couple of bottles of their new IPA. I previously reviewed the standard IPA and this one is the one that was made with Belgian yeast.

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

The nose is delightful with light malt aromas along with citrus and yeasty notes. With a gentle swirl of the glass the most pleasant floral hop complexity is released.

Wow, no I’m a huge Belgian nut so this is really WOW! What a great first sip. This is like the perfect Belgian IPA; very impressive.

The experience starts out with a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by a tingling effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. This tingling is not all carbonation; there is a definite hop presence there also. There is also an interesting earthiness that develops just before the swallow on the back-end. It is very easy drinking with a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow. That is quickly overcome and effortless into the finish. There is an additional carbonation release during the swallow that masks some of the flavors but adds a refreshing aspect to the experience. The finish is exquisite and excellently balanced with wonderful pilsner malt flavors, floral hops, citrus notes and that unique Belgian yeastiness that adds a certain perfection to it all. The final aftertaste is modest with a light sweetness, slight floral bite and lingering earthy yeastiness. There is nothing bitter about this ale whatsoever; the hops a floral in nature and delicious without being bitter.

The alcohol is well masked in this ale. You would be hard pressed to think that this was any more than a standard 5% offering. There is however an interesting warming from this beer but that is the only inclination that this is a 7.2% ABV ale.

This is so delicious and so easy drinking I’m almost finished the glass and I haven’t let it warm any. I’ll have to let it sit for a while and come back to it.
    
This beer will rival any authentic Belgian IPA, and I don’t mean the American misfits either. It is lacking some complexity but this exquisite ale is comparable to Bittere Waarheid (Bitter Truth), Houblon Chouffe, La Rullés or Piraat Ale; the best of the Belgian IPA’s (in my humble opinion).

Ok, I let this sit to warm and open up a little. It was not easy I literally had to walk away from it.

We are now at 72 degrees.

The beer has really opened up nicely. The malt flavors are more substantial now. The carbonation has all released leaving a very smooth sweet ale. The alcohol is almost discernable at this temperature. Still there is no hop bitterness, just the most exquisite earthy and floral hop presence with a dry finish.

This is amazingly good to the last warm drop. And that is always impressive to me.

This experience has been hands down a solid A+. I have had so many American attempts at reproducing the Belgian IPA and most if not all of them have failed. This is the first time I can honestly say “They Got It!” What a wonderful experience. I can only hope that they brew this one again. This exquisite ale can stand toe to toe with any authentically Belgian brewed IPA.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Boxcar India Pale Ale



Boxcar India Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Boxcar Brewing Co.
West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Indian Pale Ale

7.20% ABV







Commercial Description:
Our IPA is a deep golden color ale with a white lingering creamy head. There are hints of citrus and tropical fruits and resinous hops throughout this well-balanced brew, which will compliment food quite well. Pace yourself, this IPA goes down a lot smoother than the ABV would suggest.

Color: Golden
ABV: 7.2%
Hops: Summit (bittering) / Palisades (aroma) / First Gold (dry)
Malt: Pilsner (base)
Available: Year round in 12 oz. bottles and draft.
(BoxcarBrewingCompany.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$30.00 each

Background:
I stopped in to see the boys at Boxcar a few weeks back to pick up some door prizes and raffle items for my last beer event. Among the gifts were a few bottles of their new IPA. One of these is their standard IPA and one was made with Belgian yeast. I’ll do the Standard first and then the Belgian.

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

The nose is modest with light malt aromas, floral hop complexity and yeastiness. This is a very inviting nose for an IPA; I can’t wait to dive into it.

What an interesting first sip. This is not your typical IPA. That is, it’s not your typical American IPA. This is a great English India Pale Ale; mildly hopped compared to the American counterparts and right up my alley.

The experience starts out with a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by a very pleasant cleansing effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that adds a refreshing quality to the experience. The finish is great with nice light malt flavors and just the right amount of bite without the bitterness. The final aftertaste is sweet with some light malts and a lingering yeastiness.   

This IPA is perfect for me. But it will not be well received by the hop heads.

We are now at 68 degrees.

This beer really opens up as it warms. The malt flavors and hops seem to be more pronounced now. There is also an interesting citrus note on the finish that was not noticeable when this beer was cold.

Well that was delicious to the last warm drop.

I’m going for an A on this one; another winner from Boxcar. This is a nice IPA made in the traditional English style not in the overly bitter American style. This excellently balanced ale is hopped for just the right amount of bite for a clean dry finish. With the refreshing carbonation and citrus notes I could drink this all day but the masked 7.2 % ABV would eventually kick me.

I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with this and all the Boxcar offerings. It’s like these guys are brewing beer just for me. Their Original is just that completely original; a wonderfully refreshing Pale Ale. The Brown is listed as and American Brown Ale but will put to shame any English Brown or session. And now we have this exquisite India Pale Ale, full of body and easy drinking with a stealth 7.2 % ABV. I can’t wait to see what the boys come up with next.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Flying Dog Table For Two



Table For Two

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Fredrick, Maryland, USA

Belgian Pale Ale

5.00% ABV







Commercial Description:
It’s a Maryland collaboration for the ages with Flying Dog Brewery and The Brewer’s Art coming together to create Table for Two — a Belgian-style Table Beer brewed with wildflower honey. Table for Two’s sweet honey aroma and flavor complements its complex biscuit malt tones and spicy, fruity yeast notes. At 5% ABV, its clean, dry finish lends itself to (dare we say) ultimate quaff-ability for our hot and humid East Coast summers. This Flying Dog and The Brewer’s Art and collaboration will be available at The Brewer’s Art and in select mid-Atlantic retailers beginning in July. Hops: Brewers Gold, Styrian Goldings Specialty Malts: French Pilsner, Cara-Vienna, Rye, Biscuit Format: 6-packs
(RateBeer.com)


Background:
I just picked this one up on a whim to review.

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

The nose is almost skunky with pilsner type malt aromas and light hops. There is also a unique earthiness to the nose.

Wow, that was not very good. I’m not sure how this is a Belgian table beer, it’s more like a bad American version of a Belgian IPA.

So let me attempt a play by play. There is a light malt sweetness up front then a cleansing effervescence  over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end starts out very easy drinking but there is a building bitterness during the swallow. There is bitterness and an earthiness on the finish. There are confusing taste that do not blend well together. There is a lingering bitterness and a yeasty earthiness on the final aftertaste.

All and all I am not very impressed with this beer. It has some Belgian flavors but there is no complexity and it is overly hopped for a Belgian Pale.

We are at 65 degrees now and it’s not only bitter but it’s picking up some off flavors as well.

A rating of a C is about the best I can do on this one. I’m not sure what they were going for but this is not a good representation of a Belgian Pale ale.

New Belgium Lips of Faith Super Cru



New Belgium Lips of Faith – Super Cru

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado USA

Belgian Strong Pale Ale

10.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
Our 20th Anniversary! Let's roll a bunch of New Belgium together and put it in a bottle. Start with the backbone of Fat Tire,
but double the malt and hops; Add in crisp Asian Pears, a very Belgian thing to do; and bring it to life with a Saison yeast.
It's New Belgium Super Cru from us to you!
(NewBelgium.com )

General Pricing:
22 oz bottles: ~$9.50 each

Background:
New Belgium finally arrived in our area Monday August 25. I stopped in at State Line Liquors after work that Friday for the Hurricane Happy Hour and free New Belgium beer tasting. I bought a variety of New Belgium beers that night to help ride out Hurricane Irene and then some. Well, we survived Irene and I’m down to my last New Belgium beer review.

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

The nose of very pleasant with sweet caramel malts, floral hops and sweet alcohol.

OH My what a great first sip, sweet malts with an almost refreshing middle of the sip and then a warming in the chest after a sharp finish.

The experience starts out with a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by an almost refreshing effervescence and tingling mouthfeel throughout the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking for such a big beer. There is little to no hesitation on the swallow. There is also another carbonation release during the swallow that masks some flavors and continues to add a refreshing aspect to the experience. The finish is fantastic with caramel malt flavors and a drying effect from the floral hops and alcohol. There is just a slight final aftertaste with sweet light malts and sweet alcohol.

One interesting aspect to this experience is a sweet malt coating that is left throughout the mouth. This is similar to a stout coating but sweeter. I find it interesting that a medium bodied beer such as this one would leave such a coating.

This beer is really opening up as it warms. We are at 67 degrees now and this is starting to taste and feel like a big beer with rich caramel malts and soothing warmth.  

I’m about half way through the second glass and I am starting to feel the alcohol effects and I don’t just mean the warmth either.

This is a completely different experience now.

I have let this last glass get to 73 degrees. It has not picked up an unpleasantness whatsoever. If fact it’s more delicious now that when it was colder and more carbonated. This is a smooth warm delectable ale; delicious to the last warm drop.  

I’m going for an A on this one; another winner from New Belgium.

New Belgium Lips Of Faith Clutch

 

New Belgium Lips Of Faith Clutch

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado USA

American Stout

9.50% ABV






Commercial Description:
Pure rock fury meets Belgian-style brewed folly in this collaboration with Maryland hard-rockers, Clutch. A pronounced bass line of dark chocolate, coffee and black malts bridge the sourness of our dark wood ale for a fluid riff.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
22 oz bottles: ~$9.50 each

Background:
New Belgium finally arrived in our area Monday August 25. I stopped in at State Line Liquors after work that Friday for the Hurricane Happy Hour and free New Belgium beer tasting. I bought a variety of New Belgium beers that night to help ride out Hurricane Irene and then some. Well, we survived Irene and I’m down to my last 2 New Belgium beer reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown, completely opaque with no light getting through whatsoever. This beer also poured with a very rich tan to chocolate milk head.

The nose is nice with dark roasted malt flavors along with dark fruit notes and a unique touch of sweetness that I can’t quite place.

What a unique first sip. Dark roasted malt that turns into a unique sour finish. What an interesting beer.

This unique experience starts out with sweet dark roasted malts up front. That is followed by a wonderfully rich mouthfeel as this rich ale glides over the tongue during the middle of the sip. By the time you get to the top of the swallow you start to sense the sourness of this stout. The sourness builds during the swallow but almost vanishes in the finish. The sourness seems to be transformed into rich dark roosted malt flavors in the finish. Along with the dark roasted malts there are notes of sweet dark fruit and alcohol. The sour notes seem to return in the final aftertaste along with the lingering dark malts of the stout.

This is a very complex beer with flavors that blend in and out of your senses throughout the whole tasting experience. I’m afraid that I’m not doing it justice.

Even at 70 degrees this is still an excellent tasting beer.

At this temperature the flavors are more like a tart alcohol, even the dark roasted malts seem to be taking the back seat in this experience.

I’m going of an A- an this most unique sour stout.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Belgium Lips of Faith – Kick



 New Belgium Lips of Faith – Kick

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado USA

Fruit / Vegetable Beer

8.50% ABV







Commercial Description:
We get a kick out of collaborating. Harvesting the creativity of Kim Jordan of New Belgium and Dick Cantwell of Elysian produced this ruby-hued, slightly sour, pumpkin, cranberry ale. It’s a treat that does the trick.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
22 oz bottles: ~$7.50 each

Background:
New Belgium finally arrived in our area Monday August 25. I stopped in at State Line Liquors after work that Friday for the Hurricane Happy Hour and free New Belgium beer tasting. I bought a variety of New Belgium beers that night to help ride out Hurricane Irene and then some. Well, we survived Irene and I’m down to my last 3 New Belgium beer reviews.

Review:
The beer pours a clear light copper with ruby and orange hues and an off white head.

The nose is sweet with light malt aromas, fruity notes and floral hops.

Wow, that’s different. I did sample this once before but a full sip really set me back. It’s not bad at all just a surprise.

This unique experience starts out with a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is surpassed quite quickly by a tart tingling as the beer washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. This tartness builds to a downright sourness by the time you get to the top of the swallow. This sourness rides with you through the entire swallow. All of this sourness along with light malts and sweet fruit seem to explode in you mouth in the finish of this beer. The final aftertaste is of sweet pumpkin and fruit notes with some lingering tartness.

What a unique experience. I love the Belgian Gueuze and Flemish Sours so this is right up my ally. However I also realize that this is may be a bit much for some.

The more I drink this the more I like it.

We are now at 70 degrees.

As the beer warms the sourness seems to have diminished but other flavors seem to be enhanced. The malt flavors are richer now and the flavors of pumpkin and cranberry are much more distinguishable at this temperature.

I’m going to give this an A. What a delightful pumpkin flavored sour fruit beer. Yes, that may sound strange to some but that’s what this is. Plus I am always a sucker for a beer that gets to room temperature and still taste as good if not better than when chilled.