Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beer Review: Lancaster Milk Stout

Lancaster Milk Stout

My last still remaining beer from the wonderfully minimalist Amish. I gotta say that I like the idea of this. A stout brewed with lactose is a very cool idea. I have no idea what the action of lactose is with the fermentation process but I can tell you about the results. This pours a very dark brown with a tan head that seems to hang on for a while. Very light aroma is present with some coffee and cream smells. Pleasant appearance and aroma.

The most noticible thing about this brew is the light body. It looks like it would have a very heavy mouthfeel but the opposite is true. Its really light. Definite coffee flavors are also present. If this were work appropriate I would definitely consider having this in the morning with some... well I really wouldn't need anything else. This is a definite good beer. I am just not sure if the light body is an advantage or not, it leaves me wondering what it would be like if they bulked this one up. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get into stouts but cannot handle the more heavy variety yet (Imperial Stout).

Final Score: 78% (Flawed yet enjoyable)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Beer Review: Saranac Season's Best

Saranac Season's Best Nut Brown Lager

Finally got my hands on this. I love receiving the Matt Brewing Company newsletter because of how on top of the Saranac line I am. The downside is it really can take a couple trips before I find some place that carries this stuff. I wish I lived in Utica. I really gotta go up there and get a tour.

This beer is pretty standard Saranac. It has a noticeable hoppy flavor with a heavy mouth feel. About what I would expect but nothing out of the ordinary. I don't really taste any nut like qualities but my palette may not be as refined as some. Overall, this is a pretty standard beer from Saranac. If you like there stuff, try it. Just don't expect to be blown away.

Final Score: 73% (Good but not great)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Boston Lager

There are many things I could say about this beer. It probably deserves at least a full page, but I am not going to give it as much. When I compare this to your standard light lager beer, this is leaps and bounds ahead. This beer revolutionized the concept of what American beer could be back in the eighties. Pours a copper color with a strong head that producing rings of lacing. Aroma is of rich Vienna malt and some definite hop aromatic bite. Very pleasant on the nose and eyes.

Flavor is classic Vienna goodness. The malt flavor is very full on this one. You can really taste barley, almost like biting into a fresh slice of bread. Maybe some light french toast? This taste combined with the sharp hop flavor and bitterness really develops into balanced bliss. The mouthfeel is very rich but not too much. I could drink a few of these in a sitting and still be happy about it.

I love a good lager and this beer never disappoints me. This is a benchmark that I go by for good balanced lagers. Another great thing is how available this beer is. You can go to almost any bar throughout the east coast (maybe west coast too) and find this on tap. This beer has gotten me through many otherwise dull bar scenes. Jim Koch deserves thanks for bringing back his grandfather's recipe.

Final Score: 91% (A Great Beer. Balanced, malty, hoppy, and rich. A Classic.)

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

I gotta say, I can't tell if its after all the Amish beer or what but this is really good. Its not the best beer I have ever had but it definitely holds its own. This is a dark ale brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange. Its actually not over spiced which really surprised me. I expected to be bombarded with cinnamon and orange and get no beer flavor at all. I am glad that this is not the case.

This definitely makes me think of all the goodness that the holidays bring. One of the best things about this is the smell. It really smells great. You get a great smell of cinnamon and ginger. Almost smells like a dessert. This is truly a great beer. I look forward to many more years with good old fezziwig ale.

Final Score: 84% (A Solid Beer. Worth the Time)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beer Review: Lancaster Hop Hog India Pale Ale

Lancaster Hop Hop IPA

Hop Hog is definitely an attractive title for an IPA, even if it is made by the Amish. I didn't know the Amish knew anything about good times. This beer, like all of Lancaster's other beers is described as brewed naturally. This makes me wonder which breweries use preservatives. I never really knew there was a need with beer but I could certainly be wrong. I may have to investigate this more in the future. This beer pour a deep copper color and has a slightly hoppy odor.

This is really a below average IPA. It has some hoppy character but it is really not too strong. Certainly not worthy of the Hop Hog title. I feel that little hop gluttony has actually occurred here. But what can you really expect from such a conservative people? This kinda reminds me of a standard pale ale. Its not terrible but it really lacks that flavor you expect with a IPA. Beers like the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA really cream this poor attempt. I wouldn't get this again, even if it where half the price it is. Its just not satisfying.

Final Score: 62% (Unimpressive and Below Average)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Beer Review: Lancaster Strawberry Wheat Beer

Lancaster Strawberry Wheat Beer

I just picked up a 12 pack of the Lancaster Brewing Company's Variety Pack. I had been hesitant in the past due to the expensive price but as a reviewer I decided that this needed to be encountered. There were two thing that immediately frightened me, the low alcohol percentage (4.7%) and the description (Wheat Beer with Strawberry Flavor Added). As a brewing company that prides itself on naturally brewed beer with no preservatives this was a red flag. I really don't care if strawberry flavor isn't a preservative, I don't want fucking syrup in my beer. If you have some overwhelming craving for a fruit flavor, you should try brewing the beer with actual strawberry in it. Lancaster, don't play with my emotions.

This beer pours a nice golden color and has a moderate head. Thats where the good things end because when it really comes down to it the flavor sucks. I will give them credit for living up to my low expectations but I just don't know how to enjoy this beer. I feel like someone mixed a Budweiser with some strawberry soda. It just mainly tastes like soda, I really don't get much beer at all. If you like fruity drinks and really don't like beer, give this a shot. I do have to say that if you don't like beer I don't know why you would even be looking in the direction of this disaster. Try anything else but this. Get some soda if you want fake strawberries.

Final Score: 50% (One of the worst beers ever...)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tougher Reviews

I am going to just briefly state that I am going to be harder on beers. I love them and they love me back but not all beers can get a score above 80%. I am going to find flaws and make sure the unworthy ones get discovered. I really have too many that are getting high ratings and while I enjoy many beers... This can not stand.

Beer Review: Saranac Octoberfest

Saranac Octoberfest Lager

Let me first say that I have no idea why they spelt Oktoberfest with a "c". Maybe it has something to do with it being produced in America. I really couldn't tell you. Almost makes me want to inquire with the Matt Brewing Company. But I really shouldn't sweat the small stuff. They haven't completely gone away from tradition with the correct diamond pattern label.

This beer pours a rich amber color with a quickly dissipating head. What I love about this beer is that they have captured the real German qualities of Oktoberfest beer and made them affordable and easily accessible to people in the USA. This beer can definitely hold its own to the likes of Paulaner and Spatan. Those beers are great and can be wonderful but there is something about finding a great domestic beer that really rocks. This beer is rich and heavy and has the almost caramel quality flavor that good Oktoberfest beers possess. This is one that I will truly miss once spring and summer roll around. This is a beer that I could always look forward to and has the qualities of a beer that you could drink in quantity but it also could be completely satisfying in a one beer session.

If you have never had an Oktoberfest beer this is a good one to start with. It may not be a true Marzen beer but it really tastes like the purity law product. I give my sincere congratulations to those fantastic employees of the Matt Brewing Company yet again as they continue to produce the highest quality beer at the most affordable prices.

Final Score: 80% (America Fights Back!)

Beer Review: Saranac Imperial Stout

Saranac Imperial Stout

I finally managed to find this gem after a solid month of searching. I was about ready to give up when I finally found a grand liquor super store that had this and the always great Saranac Oktoberfest lager. I was more than joyous when realizing that it was also cheap. 6.99 for a six-pack of the Imperial Stout and 5.99 for the Oktoberfest. More than a bargain. I love the Saranac line. This beer is the second in their "High Peaks" line of beers which was created to produce a higher quality beer than they would typically produce. This one also has a 9% ABV so always show some respect.

Pouring this out of the bottle into my glass was a religious experience. I have never seen such darkness spew out of a glass container. I felt like I held a rift in time and space and now my glass was about to become an anomaly. This beer rocks. The head doesn't last long but I have never been bombarded with so many flavors at once. This is the Thanksgiving of beers. Like all good stouts this beer has a strong coffee flavor with some chocolate hintings. What I have yet to encounter in other stouts is the amazing complexity I have now found in this beer. It really is like fireworks in my mouth. Light can not escape this beer and neither should you.

Final Score: 90% (If you see it... TRY IT!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beer Review: Ballantine XXX Ale

Ballantine XXX Ale in a 40 oz. Bottle

This beer rocks. I really love Ballantine Ale. I have partaken in the 12 oz. bottles many times and this was my first 40 oz. bottle. What I love about Ballantine is that they have the price of a macrobrew (even cheaper sometimes) but you can easily tell that they spend more money on each batch. I can smell and taste the hops. 40s really don't get better than this. I had the King Cobra 40 earlier tonight and this blows that out of the water.

If you want to get drunk for cheap get Steel Reserve. If you want to get drunk cheap and well get Ballantine (Yeah Slogans!). I am pretty buzzed at this point and feel that my writing may suffer from now on. I am aware of Ballantine's rich history and all I have to say is that if it is good enough for the Yankees and Hunter S. Thompson it is good enough for Lumbeer John. Keep the legend alive.

Final Score: 83% (Economical and Hoppy)

Beer Review: King Cobra

Anheuser Busch King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor

I found myself in the capital of all things economical and tasty. Good ole' Newark. Immediately I was bombarded by the temptations of Fried Chicken and White Castle. Knowing that I had a request from Bogart for me to do a review of some shitty beer I quickly seized the opportunity at a local liquor store and for $1.29 I picked up King Cobra. I knew this beer would be a piece of shit that would likely ruin my day but I never knew just how much. I later poured this monster into a glass (I know I am breaking 40 laws but who the fuck polices this shit!).

The head was large from the beginning but quickly went into a thin layer with no lacing. Next to no aroma on this one, the only thing I get is the smell of sticky movie theater floor. I taste the first drop and the only thing I can taste is a shit load of malt with no hops. AB could really tell me they used no hops for King Cobra because they didn't want to slow me down and I would have no problem believing them. Compared to other 40s this one isn't as bad as some will get (Mickeys!) but it isn't good by any stretch of the imagination. At least steel reserve has more alcohol to make up for its horrible taste. I don't know why anyone would drink this. If you are on a budget buy Steel Reserve. Do your future a favor!

Final Score: 20% (Do I smell Shit? Oh, thats my life.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Beer Review: Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager

Saranac Chocolate Amber Lager

This is my second beer review from the "12 Beers of Winter" case. This is definitely the darkest and thickest beer the Matt Family Brewery produces. I can put my glass right up to the light and get nearly nothing through it. I wonder if this was a wonderfully failed attempt at making chocolate syrup? Like most of their beers the head starts at a medium height and quickly disappears. This one doesn't seem to leave any lacing on the glass.

The flavor does not have a strong chocolate quality to it that I can detect. This actually doesn't bother me at all because I don't really know if I want a beer that tastes like a Gump Box. I think the chocolate name might just refer to the dark and rich quality of the beer. Overall, I think this is one of the best beers in the Saranac line. It is velvety smooth and has a rich nuttiness to it. Kinda like a less better version of Smithwicks. This is a beer that I will greatly miss when the season is over and I encourage all thick beer lovers to enjoy this one's dark magic.

Final Score: 86% (Well Worth It)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Beer Review: Saranac Oatmeal Stout

Saranac Oatmeal Stout

I have picked up my second Saranac "12 Beers of Winter" case. I loved the summer pack released a few months ago and enjoyed the first 12 Beers of Winter case I bought so I thought I should probably write a review about some of them(hopefully I can get all of them reviewed by the end of the winter). The oatmeal stout pours an extremely dark amber color with a caramel colored head. The head quickly dissipates but leaves behind some lacing and a small thin layer on top of the beer.

Let me summarize the taste by saying that I never knew oatmeal could taste so good. If you enjoy Guinness/Smithwicks or any rich stout you will love this beer. The flavor reminds me a bit of coffee with some thick malty goodness thrown in to up the ante. This is a fantastic winter beer and I will definitely be sad to see it leave once the winter season is over. At $1 per beer you really can't beat this kind of quality. The Matt Brewing Company (with a few exceptions) knows how to deliver the best taste for the lowest price. If you like your beers rich, thick, and fantastic give this one a taste.

Final Score: 88% (Always a Great Decision)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Beer Review: Samuel Adam's Winter Lager

Samuel Adam's Winter Lager

I finally got the opportunity this week to go out and pick up a six pack of the seasonal Winter Lager produced by the Boston Beer Company. It was the end of a long boring day that was in desperate need of a heavy winter beer. I was immediately attracted to the white/blue colors and having seen the commercials for it a couple times I decided I would give ole' Sam a shot. Did I ever say I had willpower? I was not and still am not at all disappointed. How often does a guy like me get to be part of the revolutionary war during the frigid winter season (still Fall but who is keeping track). On to the important stuff:

The beer pours a deep red amber color and has a quickly dissipating head with some lacing along the top of the glass. The smell is very faint of malt and cinnamon. The beer has a slightly full body to it which is perfect for a cold night and also has a very faint taste of cinnamon with some other spice I can't quite pick out. Overall, I find this beer to be very satisfying and is that rare combination where the beer could be drank in quantity but also having a beer or two is a delicacy. This lager actually treads the line of becoming a full winter Bock. I am definitely going to consider picking up more of this in the future (though I may have to abstain to get some more reviews going).

Final Score: 83% (Money Well Spent)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Beer Review: Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard Ale

This is a wonderful beer. I don't say that very often but this one truly earns the right to be called arrogant. This bastard is perfectly balanced with a large amount of hops used offset the generous amount of malt used in this brew. Very, very, very thick head on this one. Lasted for a long time and has a great flavor and body. The beer has a caramel flavor that gets richer as you drink it. This is a great beer for the winter/fall season and I can only think of a few beers that would stand tall next to this one.

It is a bit pricey at 4.99 a bottle but as the bottles are larger than your normal 12 oz. I feel that this one is worth a little extra green. I didn't know California made good beer but I stand corrected today. Give this one a try. Feel free to send me hate mail if I am wrong.

Final Score: 87% (Great Beer!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beer Review: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

I purchased this beer after a long day of work (see a trend yet?). I had never tried any of the Dogfish Head brewery products and I felt that as I had heard this was a good India Pale Ale I would give it a shot. Let me start this off by saying that if you don't like hops, stop reading now. This beer is hardcore IPA which means you get plenty of hops and all the good stuff that results (usually higher alcohol to balance the hoppy bitterness). The beer pours a brown/amber color and has a pretty distinct smell of hops. On a side note whenever I get close to coming back home (Jersey City) I go over a bridge that has a very consistent smell of hops and it is starting to drive me insane. Why do I have to crave beer at 7:30 in the morning??????? It's no wonder why I am now writing in a beer blog that I never actually started until I started to commute to and from my new job.

If you at all consider yourself a fan of IPAs or well brewed beers in general you owe it to yourself to try this. They managed to perfectly balance the slightly higher alcohol percentage (6%) by using a large amount of hops. This results in what I would call the ideal IPA. Stop reading and go try this!

Final Score: 91% (Pick This Up!)

Beer Review: Saranac Pale Ale

This is a special guest review from Bogart!

This entire document is a form of payment. It is a payment for one beer. It was a beer that I needed dearly. Most people just want beer. Wanting a beer means that you’re not likely to do anything irrational to get it. However, if you need a beer then your circumstances change. So, when do you need a beer? I will tell you.

I hadn’t slept in two days. There was a grill on the deck cooking me food. My friends were all just as delirious as I was from sleep deprivation and they began to drink. First it was the innocent shot of whiskey. This first shot numbs the mouth and makes it easier to drink more. Unfortunately, the whiskey doesn’t do what it is supposed to do—namely force me into an eight hour coma. Instead, the whiskey propels me forward into a bar where I drink even more. Here I drink beer and do shots of Rumplemintz and something that started with an “M.” Pussy shots you say? Well, I didn’t pay for them so fuck off.

An hour went by at the bar real fast. I was extremely drunk. And tired. But I don’t believe I was aware of either. At this point I could have shit my pants and not even have skipped a beat. I remember being happy and smiling at everyone. Life was good, but then it was time to go home. The excitement of the night is always chilled by the return home. It’s enough to make you convince yourself that just one more beer—no matter how tanked you are—is exactly what you need to end the night. You need to push it just that solitary inch further so that the night can come to a proper close. That is when you need a beer.

It could have been any damn beer in the world… but then She walked through the door. Oh, Saranac, your seductive charm always seems to drop by my doorstep at the most dire of times. But you weren’t mine just yet, were you? No, it’s never that easy with you, my love. That night she was dressed in her best pale ale. Her amber glow warmed every star in the sky. The only thing that stood between me and that 5.5% alcohol-by-volume was writing a beer review. No worldly payment of money or sexual favor was an option. Now, I’m a busy man to begin with and on top of that mid-terms were days away. Yet, who was I to rationalize in that moment of absolute lust. I had to give in.

So: The beer was really good if you like pale ales. Prob one of my favs. Strong hoppy flavor with a bitter aftertaste, just as it should be. It’s high in alcohol so it’s no beer for lightweights. According to the website it is best served alongside lamb, beef, stews and cheeses. I drank it with spaghetti. The spaghetti contained beef and cheese. I rule.

No Bottom Line...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat Ale

A new day, a new post. Just got done with an extremely long day complete with the glamorous Jersey traffic. I need something smooth to unwind. I picked up a bottle of the readily available Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat ale and took in the patriotic aura. Brewer. Patriot. Words like that make a man feel good about his decisions and happen to be all over the bottle like nationalist methamphetamine. Who wouldn't want to be a countryman who loves to have a good time? I do, and Jim Koch seems know this as well. I try not to be swayed by the clever marketing but as I am a human drunk I can make no promises.

It poured into a nice smooth head which was slightly tan in color. The aroma smelled strongly of cherries as I would have expected (a nice touch). The bottle claims they are Michigan cherries but who can honestly tell? To me a cherry is a fucking cherry. No exceptions. The first sip is interesting, it took me some getting used to. Overall I really like it, it has a slight cherry flavor with a nice light beer taste dominating. Very refreshing and good in almost any occasion I could imagine. I think this is a very different style of beer of which I have had very few beers to which I could compare it to. The only downside of this beer is the lack of any really strong/deep flavors. It is a bit shallow but the bottom line is if you like a subtle fruit flavor in your beer I highly recommend this choice.

FINAL SCORE: 75% (Not Revolutionary But Definitely Worth A Try)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Beer Review: Kirin Ichiban Special Premium Reserve

My First Review!

I would like to start my blog off by stating first that I am very partial to the great taste and lower price of the fantastic Matt Brewing Company family of beers. They give me variety, flavor, and the magic of mountains... All in a 12 oz. bottle. Anyway, just got back from the local overpriced bodega in the glamorous City of Jersey to try a new delightful beer. The decision to pick a new beer is always one of the hardest I make in a week which could be a very telling thing.

Rather than pick up yet another variety of mediocre but pricey Samuel Adams I thought a new order of beer might be required. I quickly browsed through the usual suspects of Guinness and Heineken to arrive at a new face: Kirin Ichiban Special Premium Reserve. The bottle looks exotic and worldly with an animal that could have been the love child of a buffalo and a furry dragon on the front of it.

I opened up the first bottle and poured it slowly into my trusty stein. The head quickly dissipates to the atmosphere and I am left with a yellowish malty beer. The first sip is actually pretty refreshing with a light taste and a hint of rice. However, after a couple lackluster sips I quickly feel that I am drinking a fancily packaged Budweiser with perhaps more rice than barley. I quickly look over the print on the beer bottle to discover that the beer is bottled under the supervision of the Empire of Beer (Anheuser-Busch). Its times like these which make me wish I could start a Rebel Alliance and shoot a proton torpedo down the exhaust shaft of a power hungry monster. Ignoring the truly boring nature of the beer (which is hard) I feel betrayed. Never again will I purchase a beer without checking to see if the Empire has converted it to the macrobrewery side.

Rather than waste more time rambling about Star Wars references (though trust me I could) I will get to the bottom line. This beer is overpriced Budweiser with all the leftover money going to deceiving packaging. Do yourself a favor and if on a budget buy Saranac and if not buy almost anything else.

FINAL SCORE: 40% (Nothing Special)