Tuesday, February 28, 2012

St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout



St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada

Oatmeal Stout

5.0% ABV







Commercial Description:
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout consistently beats out international stouts in blind tastings and competitions. This intensely black ale carries strong hints of espresso and chocolate. The oatmeal contributes body and ensures a long-lasting mocha-coloured head. If you like stout, you will love St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
11.5oz bottle, ~$9.00 6 pack

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours a stout black completely opaque with very rich dark tan to light brown head.

Wow that may be the most intense nose ever. Rich, does not do it justice, this is insanely rich with dark roasted malt aromas and notes of dark fruit chocolate and coffee.

Wow, Oh My, This is insanely good. That first sip was just incredible with the richest dark malt flavors creamy mouthfeel and all around malty goodness. I am not going to do this justice but here goes a play by play anyway.

This incredible experience starts out with dark malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by the most exquisite mouthfeel as this rich stout rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and the rich head adds a creaminess that makes the overall mouthfeel exceptional. The back end is very easy drinking for such a rich ale. The hesitation on the top of the swallow is easily overcome as the smoothness of the stout carries through the back-end. The finish is really beyond my words. It is the most phenomenal finish of any stout that I have ever had. The rich malt flavors are exquisite and this silky smoothness continues to carry though the finish as well. These rich dark roasted malt flavors contain notes of chocolate, a touch of coffee and dark fruit. The final aftertaste is all rich dark roasted malts along with a thick stout coating left throughout the mouth.
This is by far the best Oatmeal Stout that I have ever had.

Wow, I can’t tell you how impressive this is. That a phenomenal experience.

Yes, it is even getting better as it warms up a little.

We are now at 65 degrees. And this beer is just as rich and smooth as it was when cold.

The head has finally diminished and the beer has lost its creamy mouthfeel. It is however just as smooth as it was.

Deliciously smooth to the last warm drop; gotta love it.

A+ | St Ambroise is a phenomenally good Oatmeal Stout with exquisitely rich dark roasted malt flavors, silkily smooth and creamy mouthfeel with finishing notes of dark chocolate, dark fruit and a touch of coffee. Rich malty goodness to the last warm drop.

Heavy Seas Black Cannon


Heavy Seas Black Cannon

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer (Clipper City Brewing Co.)
Baltimore, Maryland

American Black Ale (Black IPA)

7.25% ABV





Commercial Description:
While the style is an oxymoron, this ale is an variation of our "Loose Cannon" IPA with an obvious dark note. (RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.00 6 pack, ~$32.00 case

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours a dark brown completely opaque with no light showing through the beer and an off white to tan head.

The nose is very interesting with dark roasted malt aromas along with dark fruit and a unique underlining sweetness. The sweetness could be a combination of floral hops dark fruit esters. At any rate I can’t wait to see what this taste like.

Very interesting first sip; this is a most unique black IPA.

It starts out with a hint of dark malt sweetness up front on the top of the tongue. That is followed by a tingling as the beer washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that masks some of the flavors. The finish is surprising with rich earthy hop flavors along with dark malts with notes of toffee. The final aftertaste is of both lingering roasted malts and earthy hops.

There is uniqueness to the beer that I just can’t put my finger on. The rich dark malts and earthy floral hops give and interesting perspective to this beer that is unusual and unexpected. It’s very good but it set’s you back for a second wondering what you’ve just experienced.

It would be interesting to see what hops are in this beer. I’m not sure if the hops are unusual or their flavors are blending with the rich malt flavors to produce this unusual earthy sensation. At any rate it’s good, darn good. I should just continue for with it is and stop trying to over analyze it. Sorry I just love new beer experiences.

The experience has not changed any as the beer warms.

All and all this is a very good black IPA. I have really enjoyed the unique experience.

I’m stuck between a B+ and an A- on this one. I did not get wow factor that would through me into an A.

Heavy Seas has artfully created a unique experience in Black Cannon. Its dark roasted malts blend with the most unique earthy hops to create a one of a kind Black IPA.

Flying Dog Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout



Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout


Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick, Maryland

American Double / Imperial Stout

8.9% ABV





Commercial Description:
Deep black color with mousse-like head. Chocolate, black, and roasted malts. Vanilla and chocolate aroma and flavor. Flaked barley and oats for a creamy texture. Dry finish and slightly roasted coffee after taste. Made with Black Dog Coffee. 8.9% abv.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$13.00 6 pack, ~$49.00 case

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours a dark brown (stout black) with a modest but rich dark tan head.

The nose is rich with dark roasted malt aromas with notes of coffee and a touch of chocolate. There is also an underlining sweetness to the nose that I assume is alcohol.

Not a bad first sip, very rich malt flavors and a strong coffee note on the finish.

The experience starts out with a tough of malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is immediately followed by a rich but smooth mouthfeel as the rich stout rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairy easy drinking for such a rich stout. The finish is nice with rich dark roasted malt flavors and notes of coffee. The final aftertaste is a typical lingering stout flavors along with that touch of coffee.

This is one rich beer.

I have let this warm up to room temperature now.

It seems smoother now but also more robust. I know that seems contradictory. The mouthfeel is definitely smoother it as an almost silky smooth at this temperature. The finish is much more robust with a dark roasted coffee bitterness that carried into the final aftertaste. This coffee flavors were just hints or notes when it was cold. The sweetness of the alcohol is masked behind these robust flavors.

I am not getting that wow factor but this is still a solid B maybe even a B+.

Kujo is a robust Imperial Coffee Stout with deep rich roasted malt flavors, smooth mouthfeel and a dry roasted coffee finish and final aftertaste. With its richness and warming effect from the almost 9 % ABV this will make a nice after dinner stout with cheese cake.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout



Oatmeal Milk Stout

River Horse Brewing Co.
Lambertville, New Jersey, USA

Milk / Sweet Stout

6.70% ABV







Commercial Description:
A velvety smooth Stout brewed with oats and milk sugar that create a creamy finish over a dark malt base.  6.7 abv, Available November - February
(RiverHorse.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$12.00 6 pack, ~$45.00 case

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours thick coming out of the bottle. It’s completely opaque with a very rich dark tan almost milk chocolate head.

The nose is rich with dark roasted malt aromas and notes of chocolate and dark fruit. There is also an interesting underlining sweetness coming through on the nose.

Wow, thick, rich, sweet and creamy. What an interesting first sip.

The experience starts out with sweet dark malts up front followed by a rich but extremely smooth mouthfeel as this rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end continues to be smooth and fairly easy drinking for such a rich beer. The finish is exquisite with dark roasted malts and that classic lactose sweetness of a Milk Stout. The final aftertaste is of lingering dark roasted malts. There is also that classic stout coating left throughout the mouth.

All and all this is an impressive Milk Stout.

The experience is changing as the beer warms. The malt flavors seem more robust but the overall mouthfeel is smoother.  This is a somewhat contradictory experience.

This stout almost has an imperial quality to it at this temperature. It’s only 6.7 % ABV but the perceived alcohol is higher with the added lactose sweetness. I would have guessed around 8 or 9 percent.

This is a solid A; a very impressive Milk Stout.

River Horse has produced an impressive Oatmeal Milk Stout that is hardy, sweet and creamy all in one delicious glass. It’s hardy and deliciously rich roasted malt flavors and silky smooth mouthfeel will certainly please any stout lover.    

Schlafly Oatmeal Stout



Schlafly Oatmeal Stout

Brewed by:
Saint Louis Brewery / Schlafly Tap Room
Saint Louis, Missouri USA

Oatmeal Stout

5.70% ABV





Commercial Description:
This rich, full-bodied Stout has sweetness from caramel malt, bitterness from roasted barley and smoothness from flaked oats. Available on draft and in bottles.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$9.50 6 pack, ~$34.00 case

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours a “Stout Black” actually very dark brown, completely opaque with no light getting through and a rich dark tan to chocolate brown head.

The nose is nice with pleasant hardy dark roasted malt aromas. There is a nice earthy or hardy aspect to the nose. I can’t what to see what that taste like.

Not a bad first sip. There isn’t anything over the top about this beer; it’s just a very good straight forward Oatmeal Stout. Love it!

We start out with a hint of dark malt sweetness up front followed by a very pleasant mouthfeel as this full bodied stout rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking for a stout with an almost effortless swallow. There is a slight carbonation release that masks some flavors during the swallow. The finish is nice with hardy dark roasted malt flavors with modest notes of dark chocolate. There is also a simple sweetness in the finish that gives a drying effect. For a stout there is not much of a final aftertaste just some lingering dark malts. At least in these first sips there is not that stout coating left in the mouth.

I am really enjoying this beer. Too often craft brewers push things to the extreme. That’s not bad to push the limits but it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a simple easy drinking straight forward Oatmeal Stout for a change. In this case simple is better. Or maybe it’s just the mood that I’m in.

I have let this warm to room temperature. We are now at 71 degrees.

What a nice beer at this temperature. It’s a little smoother and I’m picking up some coffee notes that I did not notice when it was colder. The really nice thing is that it did not pick up any off flavors. It is still delicious at 71 degrees.

This is an A for me.

Schlafly Oatmeal Stout is a delightfully simple well crafted Oatmeal Stout with straightforward rich dark roasted malt flavors, smooth and easy drinking to the last delicious warm drop. This goes to show you that you don’t need to be extreme to be an A.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Scuttlebutt Porter



Scuttlebutt Porter

Brewed by:
Scuttlebutt Brewing Company
Everett, Washington USA
 
American Porter

5.80% ABV





Commercial Description:
Our creamy porter is ideal for the dark beer connoisseur. It has a lightly roasted flavor with hints of chocolate and peat. A smooth finish and superb balance make it enjoyable going down. The secret to this beer is the extra aging. Even those just getting started with darker beers enjoy this one
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ??
22oz bottle, ~$5.00 each

Background:
This is pretty much an impromptu review. This one just showed up in my beer fridge; I assume from my daughter Molly. At any rate I was not planning on reviewing it tonight but it sort of jumped out of the beer fridge and into my class. Funny how that happens.


Review:
The beer pours a dark brown completely opaque with no light getting through at all. The beer also produced and moderate tan head.

The nose is nice with dark roasted malt aromas with notes of chocolate. With a gentle swirl a pleasant sweetness is released, I assume from some floral hops.

Not bad; an interesting first sip with coffee and chocolate notes on the finish.

The experience starts out with a touch of dark malt sweetness up front. There is not much going on in the middle of the sip but a slight malt robustness that builds toward the back-end. The back end is fairly easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. There is also a carbonation release during the swallow that masks some flavors. The finish is very nice with robust dark roasted malt flavors with notes of toffee, coffee and a hint of dark chocolate. The final aftertaste is of these robust dark roasted malts.

All and all this is nice robust porter. Not the easiest drinking porter but I don’t think this robust porter is supposed to be easy drinking.

This beer is full of rich dark malt flavors. I’m really enjoying it.

I’m picking up sharpness on the finish now that I did not notice before. I’m not sure if it’s hops or if we are starting to pick up something else.

I’m expecting this to open up and show some complexity as it warms but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing bad whatsoever about this experience I just thought it would develop some more character as it warmed.

This is a solid B.

Scuttlebutt Porter is a solid robust porter with nice dark roasted malt flavors with notes of toffee, coffee and dark chocolate. This is not your easy drinking English Porter but a hardier well crafted robust American Porter.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA




Ruthless Rye IPA

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, California

American IPA

6.60% ABV






Commercial Description:
Ruthless IPA is brewed with this rustic grain for refined flavors – combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole-cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to Spring.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~$8.50 6 pack, ~$30.00 case

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


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

The nose is interesting with mild malt aromas and floral hops.

Nice first sip; clean malt flavors with a nice hop bite.

It starts out with a hint of sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue but that only last for a split second. It is immediately followed by a tingling over the tongue through the middle of the sip. There is a definite hop presence that builds toward the back end. There is a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow  but otherwise an easy drinking ale. There is a carbonation release during the swallow that masks some flavors. The finish is very nice, clean and refreshing with great rye malt flavors and a nice robust but not overpowering hop presence. From this nicely balanced finish carries some malt and hop flavors into the final aftertaste.

I’m not a hophead but these newer styles of hoppy beers are really growing on me.

I am really impressed with the flavors in this beer. I usually can’t pick up Rye in some of these new Rye beers but that’s not the case here. This beer has some nice natural rye flavors.

The hops are robust but to not seem to be overwhelming or very bitter for that matter.

The head has diminished to a thin protective layer over the top of the beer and the lacing is very impressive.

What an enjoyable experience.

There is a very refreshing quality to this beer. I usually let a beer warm up a little but I’m enjoying this one so much it’s almost gone.

Maybe I’m turning into a hop head. The more I drink this the better it gets and it started out great to begin with.

These rye malt flavors are nicely blending with these floral hop flavors creating a nice experience, even for me.

I’m going for an A on this delicious Rye IPA.


Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye is an excellent IPA with great rye malt flavors balanced with a robust hop presence leaving you refreshed and craving more. What a great experience. 


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anchor Brekle’s Brown


  
Brekle's Brown

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
San Francisco, California

American Brown Ale

6% ABV





Commercial Description:
Brewmaster Mark Carpenter’s unique recipe for Brekle’s Brown—a tip of the hat to our first brewmaster—looks to both the past and the future. Mark’s special blend of roasted malts, inspired by the all-malt brown ales in Anchor’s brewing archives, gives Brekle’s Brown its coppery brown color and its unusual depth of flavor—richness and complexity without heaviness. For brewing and dry hopping, Mark has chosen a single, American hop variety called Citra. The subtly entrancing flavors and aromas of this distinctive new hop perfectly complement the unique maltiness of Brekle’s Brown.
(RateBeer.com.com)

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

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours a clear dark brown with just a hint of ruby hues peeping through the glass and a plentiful off white head.

The nose is delightful with rich caramel malt aromas and a hint of floral hops.

What a nice first sip.

The taste starts out with a touch of sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a tingling effervescence as the beer washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with just a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow. The finish is very nice with caramel malt flavors and a noticeable hop presence. The final aftertaste is some lingering caramel malt and hops.

The hop flavor is very pleasant in this beer and not overpowering or bitter.

This is a very enjoyable and fairly easy drinking beer.

As the beer warms it just gets better. The malt flavors are more enhanced now and the overall mouthfeel seems to be smoother.

There is an interesting complexity to this beer that must be coming from the malts since this is a one hop beer.

This is a nice brown; I’m going for a B+.

Anchor Brekle’s Brown Ale is a very good easy drinking simple American Brown ale with subtle complexity of rich caramel malts and delightfully crisp floral Citra hops on the finish.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sixpoint Diesel


Sixpoint Diesel

Diesel

Brewed by:
Sixpoint
Brooklyn, New York, USA

American Stout

6.3 % ABV

Commercial Description:
American Stout, full-bodied, roasted, and highly hopped.
Each dawn is clear. Cold air bites the throat. Thick frost on the pine bough. Leaps from the tree snapped by the diesel. On the darkest days of the year, light becomes a luxury. Just when you think you cannot penetrate the darkness... SNAP! Light pierces through the roasted pine forest.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
16 oz can ~$9.00 4 pack

Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. Robert Murray at SLL did a great job in personally selecting beers for me. The next several reviews will be from this gift basket.


Review:
The beer pours stout black completely opaque with no light getting through the glass and a rich dark tan head. Actually I think it’s dark brown but everyone else says black.

This is a very interesting nose for a stout. I’m pickup the normal dark roasted malts but I’m also picking up earthy hop aromas like Fuggles or Willamette. I can’t wait to see what this taste like.

Wow, what an interesting first ship, dark malts and my favorite hop flavors. This is going to be an interesting review.

The experience starts out with a touch of sweet dark malts up front on the tip of the tongue. That is immediately replaced with a heavy tingling as the beer washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is a building hop robustness that builds during the middle of the sip toward the back-end. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. The finish is as interesting as it is unusual with the typical rich dark roasted malts of a stout but followed up the most incredible earthy hop presence. The final aftertaste is a little of both roasted malts and hops with the edge going to the earthy hops.
What a great experience. This in one unique beer; I have never tasted anything like this before.

As the beer warms it is getting much smoother and richer.

I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this new experience. I have tasted hops before in stouts like Irish Dry Stouts but nothing like this. Plus these have to be my most favorite hop flavors. I love the earthiness of these hops.

This is a solid A+; the most original American Stout that that I have ever had.

Diesel is an amazing American Stout with a most creative and unusual twist. This artisan creation blends the rich dark roasted malt flavors of the stout with abundantly rich earthy hops and creates a one of a kind original experience. All in a 16oz can.

Emelisse Winterbier 2009


Emelisse Winterbier 2009


Brewed by:
Bierbrouwerij Grand-Café Emelisse
Netherlands

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

8.5% ABV




Commercial Description:
A quadruppel style brewed beer. Brewed with pils, munchener, abbey malt and Candi suger. White Labs WLP 007 yeast. Brewed every year. The 2011 brew is a Sorachi Ace Single hop brew.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
10.4 oz bottle ~$5.50 each

Background:
I was just wandering around State Line Liquors just before Christmas looking for something different that I have not reviewed before and I saw this. Everything that I have had imported by 12Percent Imports has not only been good it’s been exceptional. So let’s see what this one from Emelisse has in store for us.

Review:
The beer pours a very dark brown almost completely opaque with just a hint of orange hues peeking through the glass.

The nose is delightful with sweet dark roasted malt aromas with dark fruit notes and sweet alcohol.

Wow, that was an exquisite first sip; smooth eloquent malty goodness.

The experience starts out with sweet dark malts up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a silky smooth mouthfeel as this delectable nectar rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is a hesitation at the top of the swallow as expected in such a rich beer. The finish is tremendously smooth with rich dark roasted malt flavors with dark fruit esters and notes of chocolate and toffee. There is also a sweet sense of alcohol on the finish. The final aftertaste is lingering sweet dark malts.

What a phenomenal experience. I haven’t had a beer this good in a long time.

This exquisite ale is getting better as it warms and opens up a little.

We are now at 65 degrees.

I am savoring every drop of every sip at this point.

Well all good things must come to an end and so to with this experience. But what a delightful time it was.

This is a Solid A+; the best beer that I have had in quite a while.

A+ Emelisse Winterbier was a phenomenal experience. This delectable ale with its sweet dark roasted malts, silky smooth mouthfeel and an exquisite finish with dark fruit and chocolate notes along with the sweet taste of alcohol will bring joy to any winter evening. Silky smooth exquisite malt goodness to the last warm drop.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leinenkugels Fireside Nut Brown Ale



Leinenkugels Fireside Nut Brown Ale

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

Euro Dark Lager

4.90% ABV





Commercial Description:
The new amber-toned brew features roasted malt character, with English two-row malts provide the beer with a maple aroma and pronounced chocolate, caramel and hazelnut top notes.
(RateBeer.com)

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I do not tote this as a Holiday beer but I guess it’s there winter seasonal and it made it into this year’s variety case. This is the last of the Christmas Variety case the other beers in this case have been reviewed in the past.

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

The nose has some caramel malt aromas mixed in with very grassy notes.

Not a very good first sip.

The taste starts out with some caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a cleansing effervescence as the beer is washed over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is easy drinking with an effortless swallow. There is an additional carbonation release during the swallow that masks flavors. The finish has some nice caramel malt flavors but there is also some very unpleasant harshness. The final aftertaste is of some caramel malts and a nutty note.

This harshness is really too much to ignore. It’s not just a lager harness with some grassy notes it’s a down right unpleasantness.

This beer has just started to warm up at little and it’s barely drinkable.

I guess I could force the rest but I’m really not enjoying this at all so I’m stopping here with about a half glass left.

D-, Leinenkugels Fireside Nut Brown Ale is not a good beer. Actually I haven’t had a beer this bad in a long time. Almost drinkable when ice cold with caramel malt flavors and nutty notes but turns down right nasty as soon as it warms a little.

Holiday Ale Homebrew


Holiday Ale
(Homebrew)

Brewed by:
DGH Brewery
Hockessin, Delaware, USA

Style ??

ABV ??







Background:
The gang at work contracted State Line Liquors to put together a basket of cheer for me when I was home with a nasty case of the Shingles. When they got back to the office my home brewing friend Dave put in a few of his homebrews. Since this one was a Holiday Ale I thought that I would add it to these series of Christmas Beer reviews. I do not know anything about the style so this will truly be a blind tasting and review.

Review:
The beer pours are dark brown almost completely opaque with just a hint of ruby hues showing at the bottom of the glass and a very plentiful tan head.

The nose is interesting with some dark malt aromas but predominantly spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The spice seems so strong it almost has a black pepper aroma to it.

Interesting first sip; sweet and flavorful but a little odd on the finish and aftertaste.

The experience starts out with a touch of malt sweetness upfront on the tip of the tongue that is immediately followed by a masking effervescence as the ale washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow and continuing effervescence. This carbonation release continues during the swallow masking almost all flavors. In the finish is where real flavors are first realized. There is so much going on in the finish it almost needs a separate analysis. There are some nice malt flavors in the finish but they are overpowered by spice. The spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg are what carry out lingering into the final aftertaste.

The head on this beer has not quite. It has reduced to a nice protective layer over the top of the beer and it has added creaminess to the mouthfeel of this ale.

As the beer warms the malt flavors are starting to gain dominance over the spice. Or maybe I’m just getting use to the spice. At any rate is seems like I’m picking up an English malt aspect to this ale similar to an English Winter Warmer; actually pretty nice.


I have let this beer warm up to 69 degrees.

It is picking up a little unpleasant harshness at this temperature. These off flavors are not overpowering but distracting from the otherwise nice rich malt flavors.

All and all this was a nice experience.  I’m going for a C+ to a B- on this interesting home brew.

Thanks Dave for this interesting beer. It will be interesting to compare notes on this blind review.

Dave’s Holiday Ale Homebrew is an interesting rich dark malt flavored ale with a heavily spiced finish. It may be a little to much spice for me but still and overall nice experience.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Breckenridge Christmas Ale


Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Breckenridge Brewery
Devnver, Colorado, USA

Winter Warmer
(BeerAdvocate.com)

American Strong Ale
(RateBeer.com)

7.40% ABV



Commercial Description:
The chill of a Colorado high-country winter calls for a beer with extra flavor and strength. Here it is. At over 7% alcohol, with a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate, our holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire.
The ultimate winter warmer.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
NA, Inactive Seasonal No Local Pricing Available

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. This will be a first Breckenridge beer that I have had. Since there seems to be a category difference between RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com I’m really curious as to what this will taste like.

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

The nose is very pleasant with sweet caramel malt aromas with interesting nutty notes. With a gentle swirl of the glass with is the most interesting release of citrus and floral hop aromas.

What a great first sip; just and all around nice tasting ale.

The experience starts out with a touch of sweetness upfront on the tip of the tongue followed by and eloquent mouthfeel as the ale rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. The finish is almost exquisite with smooth rich sweet caramel malt flavors and just a touch of earthy hop flavors. The final aftertaste is just a hint of these rich caramel malt flavors.

So far this is an impressive ale.

As this beer warms it just gets better.  

We are now at 66 degrees.

This beer is as smooth as it is hardy. The caramel malt flavors are exquisite at this temperature and the sweet taste of alcohol is finally coming through. That was delicious to the last warm drop.

This is a solid A maybe even an A+.

Breckenridge Christmas Ale is an impressive 7.4 % ABV Winter Warmer with exquisite rich caramel malt flavors and silky smooth mouthfeel ending with the sweet touch of alcohol on the finish.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer


Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer


Brewed by:
Tommyknocker Brewery
Idaho Springs, Colorado

American Porter

5.70% ABV






Commercial Description:
Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer has been specially brewed in celebration of the old world tradition of porters and European Winter warmers. The addition of pure cocoa powder and honey to each barrel of this unique offering, enhances a winter season filled with warm friendships and good times.
(RateBeer.com.com)

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

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. This will be a first for me and I have heard nothing about this beer. So let’s see what this Winter Warmer from Tommyknocker has in store for us.


Review:
The beer pours a dark brown almost completely opaque with just a hint of ruby hues peeking through the bottom of the class. The pour produce an extremely modest almost none existent tan head.

The nose is nice with dark roasted malt aromas with just a hint of hops and an underlining sweetness.

Interesting malt flavors but other than that a pretty bad first sip. Actually I’m note sure if I should continue or not. It’s not clear yet whether this is suppose to be like this. Well let’s see how it goes.

It starts out with dark malt sweetness upfront on the tip of the tongue. There is not much of anything to note in the middle of the sip. The back end starts to get a little funky and I don’t mean a Belgian Funk either. The hesitation on top of the swallow is so strong it is really hard to overcome. It is also hard to control during the swallow. There is a natural reaction that keeps saying “don’t swallow this”. The finish is just not right. There is a quiver that starts in the jaws and carries down to the stomach. The flavors on the finish are not bad but every instinct is telling me not to drink this. The final aftertaste has a odd sourness. That combined with all the rest just does not want me to continue this review.

I have two of these beers. I’m going to pour the second one and see if it is any better.

The second beer poured a little better. Let’s see how it tastes.

That is a little better. At least I can continue. There just seems to be a odd robustness to the malts now not that extreme experience that I had with the first one.

So let’s get back to reviewing.

We start out with a dark malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. There is a nice smooth almost creamy mouthfeel to the middle of the sip. A malt robustness also builds towards the back-end. The top of the swallow a hesitation that is moderately overcome then the swallow is quite enjoyable, well, at least nothing eventful. The malt flavors on the finish are nice, really nice with dark roasted malts accompanied by dark fruit esters and some smoky roasted notes along with just a hint of that old world porter. The final aftertaste has some of those lingering dark roasted malts.

Back Note
Porters started out being a blend of “Old Ale” and “Young Ale” that became popular with the shipyard workers in Old-World Britain and I assume Ireland. The Old-Ale would develop sourness due to additional bacterial contamination. So the Old-World Porter reverence was to this hint of sourness that was noticed in this beer. The blending would smooth this out and leave you with a nice drinking dark ale.

All and all this has not been a bad experience. I’m still not sure what happened to the first bottle and there is a hint of that in the second so I’m really not sure this whole batch was infected or if this was just a fluke.

I’m not done yet I’m just letting this warm up a little to see what develops.

We are now at 60 degrees.

The dark roasted malt flavors seem to be more robust at this temperature.

Now at 66 degrees it is definitely picking up some off flavors.

All and all this was not a bad tasting beer. I’m going to end up with a C maybe a C+.

Tommyknocker’s Cocoa Porter is a slightly above average Winter Warmer with nice tasting dark roasted malt flavors but leaves you flat with off flavors and sour notes. Will review again next year just in case this was a bad batch.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shiner Holiday Cheer




Shiner Holiday Cheer

Brewed by:
Spoetzl Brewery
Shiner, Texas, USA

Dunkelweizen

5.40% ABV







Commercial Description:
Happy Holidays from the "Little Brewery" in Shiner, TX. We hope you enjoy your Shiner Cheer, an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying. May your days be merry and bright and your Shiner be cold.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$6.50 6 pack, ~$24.00 case

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I did not know that Shiner brewed a Christmas beer so this will be a first for me.

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

The nose is nice with rich dark malt aromas and just a hint of floral hops.

What a nice first sip; this is a good tasting beer.

It starts out with a dark malt sweetness up front then a smooth easy mouthfeel as the beer washes over the tongue. The back-end is very easy drinking with a practically effortless swallow. The finish is very nice rich earthy malt flavors and just a hint of hop bitterness. There is also an interesting sweetness on the finish. There is not much of a final aftertaste just a hint of these dark wheat malts.

This is a nice easy drinking Dunkel

I’m not picking up Christmas but what a nice drinking beer.

As the beer warms up it is getter smoother and a little sweeter. There is also an earthy nuttiness almost oaky flavor that is now coming through.

The beer has now warmed to room temperature.

I am really picking up a peach flavor now that I didn’t notice before. And I’m not picking up any off flavors.

I am always impressed when a beer warms to room temperature and it does not pick up any off flavors.

I’m going for an A- on this delightful Dunkelweizen. I really enjoyed this experience.

Shiner Holiday Cheer is a Dunkelweizen whose smooth mouthfeel and pleasant dark earthy wheat malts are enhanced with a touch of peach and pecans to produce a delightful easy drinking glass of Holiday Cheer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Otter Creek Winter Red Ale


Otter Creek Winter Red Ale

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

American Amber / Red Ale

5.50% ABV






Commercial Description:
Winter Red Ale has the traditional characteristics of a red ale with the addition of an ample amount of hops to create subtle bitterness and medium aroma. A perfect ale for a bitter winter evening.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$7.00 6 pack, ~$27.00 case

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I have a always been impressed with the offerings from Otter Creek. I can’t wait to see how this American Amber/Red will down on St. Valentines Day.

Review:
The beer pours a clear dark ambers with ruby hues and an off white head.

The nose is fantastic with rich caramel malt aromas and a slight hint of floral hops.

That a nice beer; hardy enough for winter but also somewhat refreshing.

The experience starts out with a malt sweetness up front followed by an almost cleansing effervescence as the ale washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is a slight hesitation on the swallow but that is easy to overcome. The finish is where this all come together. The finish is rich with caramel malt flavors and a nice hoppy bite, will it’s more link a tingle. The hop flavors are not bitter or overwhelming leaving a nicely balanced experience.

This beer just keeps getting better as it warms and opens up. It is much smoother now with richer malt flavors.

I let this set to warm up to room temperature.

What a great beer. I’m always impressed with a beer continues to taste good after it warms.

The malt flavors are more pronounced now. There is an almost toffee note coming through on the finish. The hops continue to make their presents known but seem to be a little more subdued at this temperature.

Even through this is a little too hoppy for my taste I still have to acknowledge the craftsmanship that created this ale. So I have to give this an A- for a rating.

Otter Creek’s Winter Red Ale is sure to please just about every craft beer drinker. Its full body with caramel malt flavors and just a hint of toffee is balanced nicely with an eloquent hop presence to give it a hardy and refreshing quality.

Lost Reviews

The following are links to two lost reviews. There were actually reviewed on 11-12-2011 but I just found them and posted. I set their dates back to 11-12-2011 to keep them in the proper order.


Lost Review: Review 323 Schlafly Dry-Hopped American Pale Ale was reviewed on 11-12-2011 but not posted until 02-13-2012


Schlafly Dry-Hopped American Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Saint Louis Brewery / Schlafly Tap Room
Saint Louis, Missouri, United States

American Pale Ale (APA)

5.90% ABV






Lost Review: Review 324 Schlafly A IPA.doc was done on 11-12-2011 but not posted until 02-13-2012


Schlafly American IPA

Brewed by:
Saint Louis Brewery / Schlafly Tap Room
Saint Louis, Missouri, United States

American IPA

7.20% ABV

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saranac Big Moose Ale


Saranac Big Moose Ale

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company
Utica, New York

American Pale Ale (APA)

5.30% ABV






Commercial Description:
Saranac Big Moose Ale is an American Pale Ale with a kick. The medium-bodied malt sweetness is balanced by a nice crisp bitterness from hand selected centennial and cascade hops. Look for a vibrant citrusy hop aroma that will leave you craving another swig!
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$7.00 6 pack, ~$27.00 case

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I have never had it before and I’m usually pleased with Saranac’s beers. They are not over the top but all usually easy drinking and enjoyable.

Review:
The beer pours deep dark copper almost brown with orange hues and an off white head.

The nose is very pleasant and inviting with nice pale malt aromas and light floral hops.

That was an interesting first sip. This Saranac has some character to it.

It starts off with light malt sweetness up font but that is instantly replaced with a tingling effervescence as the beer rolls over the tongue. There is a hop robustness and bitterness that builds into the back-end. There is a hesitation at the top of the swallow but that is very easily overcome. There is a carbonation release during the swallow that seems to have a cleansing effect or at least diminishes the hop robustness. The finish is unexpectedly intense with some pale malt flavors along with a very robust hop complexity. It is mostly these hop flavors that carry into the final aftertaste.

All and all this is a very nice beer and somewhat refreshing. Although it is totally different form what the nose indicated.

The head on the beer has not quite. It has reduced to a thin protective layer over the top of the beer and lager ring around the glass. It is also leaving some very decent lacing.

The beer seems to be smoothing a little as it warms or that may just be my getting use to the hops.

At any rate the more I drink this the more I like it.

I am really impressed with this beer; this may be the most artfully crated beer that I’ve had from Saranac.

My only down note is the hop robustness. It almost seems like it’s more hops than the style should have. But then again I’m no hophead.

I’m going for a B+ on this. Big Moose is an artfully crafted American Pale Ale with pale malt flavors and a hop complexity that does not let you down. Even the head on this beer stuck around until the very last sip.




Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goose Island Christmas Ale




Christmas Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Chicago, Illinois

American Brown Ale

6.20% ABV






Commercial Description:
Specialty Belgian malts create a deep garnet color and a truly rich old European flavor in our classic Christmas Ale. And the generous amount of crystal hops adds that extra spicy aroma to your pint, perfect for a wintry night. Our Christmas Ale brings good tidings and joy to each Holiday Season. A two-time Gold Medal Winner in the World Beer Championships.
(RateBeer.com.com)

General Pricing:
12 oz bottles: ~$11.00 6 pack, ~$35.00 case

Background:
This beer was in this years Christmas Beer Variety case at State Line Liquors. I have never had it before and I’m really looking forward to reviewing it. So let’s see what this Christmas beer has in store for us.

Review:
The beer pours deep dark copper almost brown with orange hues and a fairly rich off white to tan head.

The nose is nice with rich caramel malt aromas with notes of toffee and an underlining sweetness. There are very interesting sharp hop aromas on the nose as well. It’s a very interesting nose with a somewhat English flair; I can’t wait to see what this taste like.

Hmm, that was an interesting first sip; sweet malts with effervescence middle and a bite on the finish. Let me attempt a better play by play.

The experience starts out with malt sweetness up front then an almost cleansing effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back-end is fairly easy drinking with just a slight hesitation on the top of the swallow. There are some interesting malt flavors that develop at the end of the swallow into the finish. The finish is very unusual and interesting with a variety of malt flavors and a slight hop bite. I think that slight bite is what hits me as unusual. I guess it’s more unexpected than unusual. The finish also has notes of toffee, cocoa and spice.

As the beer warms I’m picking up more spice. I think these spices and hops seem to be conflicting or at least confusing me.
Well, I’m not sure I’m going to work out this conflict. This just seems to be a heavily hopped beer. It’s not bad but it’s more than I expected in a Christmas Ale. Typical Christmas beers come from the winter warmer or English traditions. They are typically very low hopped ales.

OK Back to what’s in front of us.

All and all this is a pretty good beer with a very big bite. These hops seem to be adding more of harshness and masking the malt flavors and the spices in the beer.

After accepting this beer for what it is I’m actually starting to like it. I think that it would be better with a little less hops but all and all it’s pretty enjoyable.

I’m going for a B- on this unusual Christmas Ale. It has very uniquely hopped Christmas Ale whose bite sets aside the caramel malts with toffee notes but still maintains some spice and Holiday Cheer.