Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beer Review: Flying Dog Old Scratch

Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager

I wanted to hate this. I am no fan of mosquitoes and having multiple cartoon mosquitoes on the bottle really raised an automatic irritation in me. Then I realized it's actually clever. It definitely draws attention to itself. Makes you wonder if its going to taste like blood, or maybe its an obscure reference to the mosquitoes of Jurassic park that were persevered in amber sap. Probably enough speculation at this point.

Pours as expected a rich amber color with next to no head. There is a lingering ring around the edge and a bit in the middle but nothing to shout home about. Aroma is a very pleasant malty bread like odor. Tastes malty and rich with some definite bread like character. Very satisfying stuff. Almost like a good marzen beer but with less of the caramel and more of the bread. Hops are there but only for bittering as far as I can tell, no real hop aroma or flavor. Not a bad thing for this style though. The only real criticism I can think of is that it doesn't have a tremendous amount of depth. Its malty and rich with some baked bread flavor but there isn't much else there.

If you like a good Oktoberfest beer or are a huge fan of baked bread this is a beer for you. I am certainly a big fan of amber malt and my only regret is that this is the last one of my variety pack. I will without a doubt keep my eyes peeled for this in the future. This is one of my favorite Flying Dog brews yet.

Final Score: 85% (Great Rich Bread and Malt Flavor, Lacks Depth Though)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Beer Review: Red Stripe

Red Stripe Jamaican Lager

The most famous Jamaican beer. The infamous Red Stripe. I had no idea what to expect from this, I have had Red Stripe before but its been a good five years so my memory is a bit hazy. Pour the lightest color I have ever seen in a beer. I dare call it off white. Aroma is faintly of malt with no hop presence. Head is somewhat there but nothing too large.

Flavor is very unique. I expected a completely bland corn tasting beer but I was pleasantly surprised. Malt is very much in effect. Tastes almost like a light bock beer. I get slight hints of fresh mint in it. Definitely a well brewed beer and this would have certainly been a great import find before the craft brewing movement in America.

This recipe captures the desire for light beer that would fit in with the intense island heat of Jamaica while not compromising a great flavor. I would recommend this to anyone who is going to spend a day in the sun. Really has a fresh and light flavor with little sacrifice of taste.

Final Score: 83% (Light body and Great Flavor)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beer Review: Saranac Caramel Porter

Saranac Caramel Porter

This is a rising star in the Saranac lineup. The popularity has caused this brew to become a seasonal release as well as a member of the 12 beers of winter. This porter pours a dark caramel color with some light coming through around the edges. Aroma is mainly of coffee with some chocolate cake thrown in. The head also wants to hang around after hours, no early night for the bubbles. Carbonation is a little too much but not too much to overshadow the dominate flavors.

Caramel is appropriately the most powerful flavor present in this brew. Coffee also lingers around to participate. The hopping is just right for a porter. Not too much but enough to keep things from being too sweet. This really does taste like they added a jug of caramel to the barrel, its almost overwhelming at times. I look at it as a good and bad thing. It provides a strong contrast to other traditional porters while potentially alienating porterheads.

Overall, I really like this beer. I have a hard time calling it a porter because the roasted flavor has been largely overpowered by the caramel flavor. I would strongly recommend this to people who like caramel but anyone who is looking for a classic porter should seek it elsewhere.

Final Score: 81% (Not as true to the style but stands on its own)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beer Review: Flying Dog Road Dog

Flying Dog Road Dog Porter

I love a good porter. In my opinion its an underbrewed style, I usually prefer it to its relative the stout. Porters seem to me to be deeper and richer with more of a powerhouse behind them. Pours a deep dark brown with very trace amounts of light coming thorough if held up to the sun. The head is persistent and a cream off white color. Aroma is of roasted malt, not too strong but it is there.

Lots of roasting is the way to describe this taste. Someone left this loaf in the oven for a while and it came out very rich and flavorful. Chocolate malt is dominant with some faint hop character present. What I love about this kind of flavor is that its good any time of the day. It can substitute for coffee or for the after dinner dessert. Don't know that I would really want to trade this in for coffee though as the consequences could be severe. Works from a taste perspective though.

This is a robust porter. I don't know what the alcohol by volume is on this but it certainly packs a punch. This isn't the kind of beer that you want to drink rapidly or in extremely large amounts. Very filling and satisfying. I now have a nice warm feeling and will leave you with the final score.

Final Score: 90% (Deep complex roasted flavor that packs a punch)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beer Review: Bitburger Premium Beer

Bitburger Premium Beer

This is a beer that I have not seen much of in the local stores around me but was given to me by my girlfriends father. I have now discovered that this is the number one draught beer in Germany. Pours a rich gold color with a very minimal head, which did not look like the picture posted above. This could have been due to inadequate pouring skills or wrong glass, I don't know. Aroma is very minimal with faint maltiness coming through.

Taste is very unique. I can't think of a beer to really compare this to. It has a strong malty presence but also a bit of hops to counter it. Very well balanced. This to me tastes like a solid pilsner where they left out some the hop bite and allowed aging to add character to the brew.

This is a very good beer. One of the best examples of a lager that packs quite a bit of flavor into a light color and body. I wish Anheuser-Busch would take some notes on what a light lager should be. While I would certainly get this in the future, I would have to be in the mood for it. If it were a little richer it would be ideal.

Final Score: 79% (Very good for the style, could be more rich)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

This was a rare find considering I found a couple of these at the end of March. This pumpkin ale style of beer is one that I wanted to try more of and had only had some lackluster examples of. Luckily this one stands out as the best pumpkin ale I have ever had. Pours a dark amber with an aroma that isn't far from fresh pumpkin pie. An average head is present.

The flavor is fantastic. Rich malt background with multiple spices coming through. Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice make themselves known. This is surprisingly not over spiced however. I can't think of a better beer to have during Halloween or Thanksgiving. I love it now and its April. If you like pumpkin pie and beer you will love this. At 7% alcohol this one also packs a decent punch.

Final Score: 87% (Holiday Greatness, All Year Round)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Beer Review: Southampton Double White Ale

Southampton Double White Ale

I would first like to say that this ale was one that I didn't think I would enjoy. I really don't like the white ales very much and a double white ale sounded like it would be twice as bad. The most startling thing about this beer is the sediment that comes out toward the end of the bottle. I don't mind the yeast (in fact its good for you) but this probably scared people who might have figured it went bad. Pours a cloudy yellow color with a moderate head. No real lacing going on. Smell is strongly of spice which I would expect from a heavily spiced ale. Coriander really comes through.

The flavor is surprisingly not bad. I think the double gravity actually helps this beer a lot. Rather than being over spiced it is nicely spiced. Enough to taste but not burning potpourri. I would actually get these now and then if the mood struck me. It doesn't mention the alcohol percentage on the bottle but with the double gravity its got to be higher. This is also a good thing. If I had to summarize this brew I would call it the Man's white ale. Strong and still true to the style. I am impressed with Southampton and will try to sample more of their offerings in the future.

Final Score: 85% (Double = Better)