Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beer Review: Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

Anheuser-Busch's Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

My curiosity got the best of me. I had avoided picking this up due to it being one of the seasonal offerings from Anheuser-Busch but I really could hold out no longer. I feel that they deserve their fair shot at craft brewing and I would try to judge it based on its merits rather than who produced it. This ale is described as being aged on bourbon barrel oak and vanilla beans. Pours a rich amber color with a thin fluffy head. No noticeable lacing present. Aroma is really pleasant, strong vanilla-malty character comes though easily.

Flavor is surprisingly very nice. The vanilla bean flavor really comes through. I taste a faint oak flavor but it is really in the background compared to the aggressive vanilla presence. I don't taste any hops at all but thats not really the worst thing in the world for this style of beer.

This is a very nice surprise and I will give AB credit for producing a unique beer with some nice flavor. It isn't the best winter beer I have ever had but it is slightly above average. I would like to try more of their seasonal brews now and see how they hold up.

Final Score: 77% (Good Winter Beer, Not Nearly the Best However.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beer Review: Saranac Belgian White

Saranac Belgian White

This is one of the staples of the Saranac 12 Beers of Summer. Providing some necessary variety and refreshment to the pack. Pours a cloudy golden color with a white fluffy head. Aroma is of coriander and some orange peel. Overall a spicy scent with lots of fluffy white clouds. Very appealing in the summer heat. Though the one thing thats lacking is the yeast sediment on the bottom. Some people wouldn't like it but I truly enjoy the flavor and freshness that the yeast bring to the table. The suspended yeast is nice, but having noticeable sediment is a great thing.

The flavor is classic Belgian White. A bit tangy with lots of spice upfront. Definitely a style that stands out in its flavor. I always have mixed feelings about this beer. I have definitely had better examples of White ales but this is one of the most thirst quenching beers I have ever had. The bitterness is just right to satisfying your thirsty mouth. Kinda like the refreshment of Gatorade.

I can honestly say that I wouldn't buy a six pack of this but I do enjoy it now and then with the 12 pack of summer beers. The bottom line is that if you want a real Belgian Wit Bier look elsewhere. This is somewhat close and a good intro but can't hold up to the real deal.

Final Score: 71% (OK, but not nearly the best.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Beer Review: Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

Took me a few minutes to understand the name. I think I get it now though. If an Imperial Stout is attempting to take over the world, maybe a World Wide Stout already has. This beer is described as "a very dark beer brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley". It is extremely dark and must have had a ridiculous amount of barley considering the 18% ABV in this leviathan. I don't think a beer can get much darker than this.

The flavor is very rich. Lots of alcohol and roasted malt. This results in a very sweet flavor with an aroma that is pure ethanol. Vastly different from traditional beer but every sip is extremely satisfying. I am sure a large amount of hops went into this as well but they are completely overpowered by the alcohol and maltyness.

By far the most intense Imperial Stout I have ever had. I love Imperial Stouts and this is better than most. The price ($8.99/12 oz. bottle) however, makes you wonder if its worth it. This is a great beer but I would rather have a six pack of solid Imperial Stouts for around 12 dollars than 1 bottle for 9. Dogfish Head is always pushing the limits and I love them for it. I prefer their extreme 120 minute IPA to this but this beer is no slouch. If you want a rich, dark, flavorful beer this will please. But it may not be the most bang for your buck, especially in the sluggish economy.

Final Score: 89% (Great Beer but Pricey and Not Worth The Cash)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beer Review: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

This is as it is described. The holy grail of IPAs. I have yet to find a beer more ridiculous or extreme. This colossal brew is continuously hopped for 120 minutes then dry hoped every day for a month. This is by no means light in hops. But as the brew master ups the hops, the malt content also needs to be raised. And it is indeed raised. At 20% ABV this is truly an extravagant monster of a beer. Pours a dark, clean, copper color with a cream colored head that yields great lacing action.

This is the kind of extreme beer that will push the boundaries of what you think beer is. The flavor is very sweet and malty. This is surprising considering the large mass of hops used in this. The hops are there though, they provide the background spicy and herbal qualities that really give this beer some complexity. This beer is extreme in all things, malt, hop flavor, and alcohol.

The is such a good beer. The 20 percent alcohol really packs a punch. You get a serious buzz going even halfway through the beer. I can't find fault with the flavor, aroma, or any other traditional reviewable beer quality. I can't however give this beer a 100 percent. The biggest downside to this brew is the high price tag. All the extravagance comes at a hefty price. $8.99 for a 12 oz. bottle is staggering for any beer lover. I thank Sam for his courage to release such a great beer. The price is worth it for a special occasion but not something that most people could afford to drink regularly.

Final Score: 96% (One of the Best Beers Ever Made, Really Expensive Though)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Beer Review: Dirty Bastard Ale

Founder's Brewing Company Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

I had to get this beer. I really don't see that many Scotch ales, especially this time of year. My experience with this style is limited but I have found that in the right mood, a Scotch ale can be extremely good. I don't know if I would call it an acquired taste but I can tell you that it has grown on me quite a bit. Founder's also pulls no punches when they brew this monster up to 8.3% ABV. Pours a dark brown color with a creamy tan head. The head lasts a real long time and provides great visual stimulation with its lacing.

The flavor is rich and complex. I am not 100% sure on this but I believe the distinct flavor comes from a special kind of malt roasting where low nitrogen barley is dried by peat burning. This is very similar to the kind of flavors you get in a good single malt scotch (which I also enjoy). You may have to have a liking of scotch in order to truly appreciate this beer. For all its flavor, it is still undeniably smooth. It feels incredibly light in the mouth and leaves only a slight roasted aftertaste.

This is definitely the best Scotch ale I have ever had. Rabbie Burns would certainly approve of this after filling his stomach with the finest and steamiest haggis. I recommend this to anyone who wants something a bit different, or to anyone who just wants a man's man beer. This will put hair on your chest.

Final Score: 90% (Complex and Warming, A Great Change of Pace)