Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Summer Ale

The Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Summer Ale

I can't believe I never reviewed this beer. I think this is such a ubiquitous beer that I always assumed I had reviewed this long ago. Time to right that wrong today. The summer ale pours a slightly hazy golden color with a foamy white head. Aroma is mostly wheat malt.

I don't know if the recipe has changed this year or if my tasting has improved but I get a lot more of the lemon peel than I have ever noticed in the past. I am a fan of this. The sweet and spicy wheat malt hits you up front followed by the tart lemon and the spicy grains of paradise. I don't get much in the hop department besides the basic balancing of the sweet malt.

This is a very well balanced easy drinking summer beer. The wheat malt pairs very well with the tart lemon and spices. I don't miss the hops with this one and if I have one criticism of this beer it would be that it is filtered. I am an advocate of unfiltered beer and I feel like this is a prime candidate for suspended yeast. It could only add more depth. If you have never had this beer, you need to try it. I don't know how someone could avoid this classic summer drink.

Final Score: 80% (A Solid "Go-To" Summer Beer)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beer Review: Sly Fox Rt 113 IPA

Sly Fox Brewing Company Route 113 India Pale Ale

Gotta love canned beer. Especially hoppy canned beer. I wish all beers were available in this light weight super protective medium. The IPA pours a rich amber color with a very long lasting lace filled caramel head. Aroma mainly of sweet malt.

The flavor is well balanced for an IPA of this size (a whopping 113 IBU with 7% ABV)! Somehow the malt profile is sweet and full enough to mostly balance the normally tongue blistering hops. Very nice beer. You really do get both worlds, sweet bready malt upfront with hops following shortly behind. Mainly grassy hop flavors, I don't get much in the citrus family. The aftertaste is a little strong with the bitterness but with a beer like this can't really avoid that.

This is an excellent example of a big beer that somehow always leaves you wanting more. I definitely recommend this for hop heads but those that aren't big on large hoppy IPAs should avoid this (if these people exist). I could definitely have a couple of these on any given night.

Final Score: 85% (Big, Hoppy, and Balanced)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Kellerweis Hefeweizen

Summer is the time of hefeweizen for me. I through in other beers to mix it up but these unfiltered wheat beers are my warm weather drink of choice. This is also one of the few open fermentation hefeweizens produced in America. The hefe gets a rich white head to start out with that lingers with some slight lacing. The kellerweis is very cloudy and has a nice golden color. Full aroma of malt and banana, kinda like banana bread.

The open fermentation really pays off. Rich banana smoothly yields to the golden malt. Some clove is present but mainly banana. Hops are barely present but they aren't important in this style. The beer finishes with a slightly spicy wheat aftertaste which is good with the high carbonation. The wheat flavor is also closer to how I prefer it with it not being overly intense or puckering. This is a deep and tremendously drinkable beer.

Amazing beer. This is definitely one of my top two hefeweizens. Maybe even my favorite. The only one that I can say for sure is on par with this is the Sixpoint Eight Days of Wheat beer. I love a good hefeweizen that is dominated by banana. I wish more beers came unfiltered. I really don't know why most beers are filtered. The yeast adds flavor and loads of hangover preventing B-vitamins. This beer is better than all of the Bavarian hefeweizens I have tried. Sierra Nevada hit a home run with this and the fact that this is available year round is a great thing.

Final Score: 96% (Amazing Hefeweizen. World Class.)

Beer Review: Shiner Ruby Redbird

Spoetzl Brewery Shiner Ruby Redbird

Finally Shiner beers are available in New Jersey. I got this one as a very generous gift from my father-in-law. This is the only beer with grapefruit in it that I have yet to encounter and adding ginger to the mix really makes things interesting. The redbird pours a medium golden color with a very quickly disappearing head due to the citrus. Aroma is solidly ginger with some grapefruit, not what you can normally expect from a beer.

The flavor is as unique as the two additional ingredients. The ginger and grapefruit really dominate the taste and the citric acid provides a nice tart aftertaste. The carbonation is very pronounced in this brew and really provides a nice effervescent quality. The traditional beer flavors of barley malt and hops are not as noticeable as in usual brews. The grapefruit and ginger provide a spicy, sour, and sweet experience that alternates while you are tasting the beer which to me is very refreshing.

This is a solid beer that I would definitely purchase this time of year. One nice thing to note if you are concerned with weight is that Spoetzl has the calorie information online and this beer comes in at a count of 116. This beer is a nice break from the constant hefeweizens that usually dominate my summer. The only negative thing I can say about this beer is that it isn't particularly deep and the hop and malt flavors really get muted. If you are a fan of grapefruit, ginger, and beer you owe it to yourself to try this out.

Final Score: 89% (Solid and Unique but Lacks Depth)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beer Review: Kirkland Amber Ale

New Yorker Brewing Company Kirkland Signature Amber Ale

Thanks to my very generous father-in-law I got a sampling of some of the craft brew offerings from Cosco. After doing some research and noting that the brewing company is located in Utica, New York it seems that this is actually brewed by the Matt Brewing Company. I guess they don't want to be associated with an established brewery. I would think an association like that would only help give credibility but I suppose if they are paying for the production of this beer they may not want to share any credit. The bottle displays both the alcohol content and the bitterness (IBU) measurement, which is fantastic. Very rarely do breweries display the bitterness measurement. The amber pours as suspected a clear amber color with a slightly tan head. Aroma of clean malt, not much else.

The flavor is very clean and malty with a pronounced toasted flavor. I don't taste much in the hop department but at 25 IBUs they are going to be dominated by a malty beer like this. The toasted malt comes across a little too strongly for me, almost like burnt toast. The flavor is rich and malty with some definite caramel character but that deep roasted flavor gets to be a bit abrasive.

Overall, this isn't my favorite beer but it is tasty and far beyond the cheap adjunt lagers that dominate most of the beer market. I read that a case of the four different beers goes for $18.99 which is a huge plus. I have yet to find craft beer that can compete at that price level. If you happen to be at a Cosco that sells this I would recommend picking it up. It probably won't be the best beer you will ever have but it is affordable without sacrificing much quality.

Final Score: 75% (Nice Sweet Malt but Marred by Burnt Flavors)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beer Review: Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA

Otter Creek Brewing Company Alpine Black India Pale Ale

The Black IPA is a newly developed style of beer that I believe the Brewers Association has now recognized as a legitimate style of beer. You have to love trying something new. The BIPA pours a dark mahogeny color similar to most stouts and has a caramel colored head. Noticeable hoppy aroma upfront.

This beer has two strong flavors going on. Chocolaty coffee and hops. Both are there upfront but the hops stand out more than anything as I would expect from this style. This is hard to judge right now because I find myself wanting more of the dark roasted barley flavor but this style has been designed to have the hops take a dominant front seat.

I am all for recognizing new styles of beer but I am not sure how unique or needed this style really is. Both porters and stouts can be hoppy but I guess this style serves to make sure you know what you are in for. It isn't overwhelmingly hoppy but the presence certainly is felt more than anything else. I am sure this isn't indicative of all BIPAs but I think this one is very one dimensional. A good IPA or Stout would be much better than this. Certainly drinkable but nothing I am going to go back for.

Final Score: 70% (One Dimensional and Underwhelming)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Beer Review: Three Philosopher's Ale


Ommegang Brewery Three Philosophers Ale

This was part of a very nice Christmas gift pack I received. I am a big fan of the Ommegang brewery. This brewery is one of the best example of how America really is the greatest beer nation on the planet. American brewers continue to show that no style is impossible to master and that experimentation is the key to great beers. Where other countries are rigid in their views, we Americans understand that they bottom line is quality beer. This beer is a blend of 98% ale and 2% kriek (cherry lambic) according to the bottle. The 3P pours a dark mahogany color and has a dark tan head that really sticks around. The aroma comes across as that estery Belgian fruity yeast flavor that just seems to flow up the glass and dominates all other scents in the area.

This beer has some deep flavor. How they came upon the formula of 2% k and 98% ale I don't know but I wish I could have been in on that study. The Belgian ale alone is deep and effervescent but if you throw in a little bit of sour cherry lambic flavor you know you are going to be in beer paradise. The 10+% alcohol doesn't hurt either. The lightly roasted malt flavor keeps on coming and the slight fruity flavor really packs a punch. This isn't a hoppy beer but you really don't need a strong hop presence. The yeast and malt provide plenty of punch.

If you haven't had a Belgian style beer before stop reading this and pick one up. You are missing out on a great segment of the beer community. If you have and you enjoy any one of them do yourself a favor and support America by buying a beer from Ommegang. I would be surprised if any one of them disappointed. This is one to try.

Final Score: 96% (Great Ameri-Belgian Beer. Delicious and Deep. Must Try.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beer Review: Saranac Lake Effect Lager

Matt Brewing Company Saranac Lake Effect Lager

Finally sitting down to write a review. Been too long but now that my wedding is over it needs to happen. I've written far too much to let this blog die. Feels good. I figure a good place to start is with one of my favorite breweries that happens to continually come up with new offerings. I love that they switch things up. The same beers year after year get very old, it makes it even better when one of you favorites makes an appearance (Bring Back the High Peaks Series!). The lake effect lager replaces the winter lager of last year. The lager pours a rich amber color with a brief fluffy white head. Smells of German goodness and some sweet malt.

The first thing that hits me about the flavor of this beer is the big malt presence. Very sweet and biscuty with a slight hint of roasting. Hops are also in effect here, the Hallertau hops add a pleasant spiciness that really balances this beer out. I would say this is similar to other bocks you may have had, just more balanced and drinkable. Somehow goes down easy. Could be that I just really like beer though.

The Matt Brewing Company seems to specialize in German style beers, probably due to their German heritage. This beer tastes truly German, all the lager yeast and malt flavor you would be looking for. Just without the import price. This makes a solid addition to this years "12 Beers of Winter" mix pack and a slight improvement on last year's Winter Lager.

Final Score: 86% (Big and Warming but Drinkable)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beer Review: Original Flag Porter


Darwin Brewing Company Original Flag Porter

Hearing rumors from a friend that this beer is retired and not seeing it on the website make me feel very fortunate to have found this historical beer (in more than one sense) before it disappears. This porter is brewed with yeast that was recovered from a ship that sunk in 1825. Very cool stuff. How can you not want to try this piece of history? The ale pours a dark amber color with an off white head. Aroma is very sweet. Almost like burnt sugar.

The flavor is also sweet. Dark roasted sugars dominate the palate with a very noticeable carbonation. Tingles on the tongue. I don't get much in the coffee department but some subtle chocolate comes through. Nothing revolutionary about the taste but I have to say that his is very drinkable and a solid example of what an English porter should be.

Overall, I don't have anything negative to say about this beer besides the price. I paid about 12 dollars for a four pack. This is a fun beer to try because of the historical gimmick but after you have had it I would recommend switching to something less expensive. In my opinion you aren't getting anything extra for your buck.

Final Score: 82% (Solid Beer, Too Pricey)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beer Review: Stoudts Karnival Kolsch

Stoudt's Brewing Company Karnival Kolsch Ale

This Cologne style used to be more obscure and is thankfully making a solid comeback in America. This is also a tough one to describe. Similar to a pilsner in ingredients with a twist on the fermentation process. The warm fermenting estery, fruity kolsch yeast really adds some depth to what would typically be a simple session beer. The kolsch pours a light golden color with a rich and foamy white head. Aroma isn't too strong, nothing too different from a standard pilsner or helles lager.

The most surprising thing about this beer after the first sip is the amount of hop flavor present. This is just way too assertive. Typically the hops are in balance with the malt in this style. This balance is critical to give the beer its needed depth. I just don't get much more than a hoppy pilsner. Slight malt sweetness and an aggressive grassy hop flavor. A little boring.

This is a decent beer but it really leaves me wanting a more traditional kolsch. If I went into this craving a pilsner I would be satisfied. The Karnival just doesn't provide that Kolschy flavor that I so rarely find. The hoppiness is way too strong. It drowns out any of the subtleties of the yeast.

Final Score: 69% (Fine Taste. Not A Kolsch.)