Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beer Review: Ramstein Blonde Wheat

High Point Wheat Beer Company Blonde Wheat Ale

Always love a good blonde hefeweizen. Especially a locally produced Jersey hefe. The bottle conditioning (carbonating in the bottle) is also a nice touch. Few breweries still do this. It generally doesn't make a huge difference but it is the kind of extra step that can put a brew over the top. The blonde pours a very cloudy light golden (blonde) color with an average head. Lots of clove going on in this aroma. I am not a hardcore clove fan but it is something that varies between breweries.

Flavor is pretty good. The freshness and rich clove flavor is really nice. I would certainly enjoy drinking a few of these on the beach. If I ever went to the beach. The sun always has to stick its over-heated omnipresent head into my business. The clove flavor definitely has a bit more freshness than you might get from your average blonde wheat. I really miss the banana flavors also produced by good German hefe yeast. The clove flavor is just too dominant.

This is an above average wheat beer that will satisfy most hefeweizen cravings. If they fermented at a slightly colder temp the flavor would be much more refreshing. Less clove and more banana. I feel like a broken record. If you live in Jersey and it's not winter (or if you are in the mood) you won't go wrong with this. I still prefer the Climax Hefeweizen over this. This is a good second though, even more so if you don't want to deal with the growler size.

Final Score: 83% (Fresh and Flavorful but Could be Better!)

Beer Review: Sam Adams Scotch Ale

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Scotch Ale

Since Scotch happens to be my favorite liquor and beer rocks my world this is a no brainer. Though I do lose the rewarding heavy buzz of sipping a neat glass. The beer pours a very pretty dark red color with crazy lacing around the glass. I can already taste the smoke in the aroma. Very exciting job this beer reviewing is. If only I can figure out a way to make real money (or get free beer sent to me). I will certainly work for beer. I think I already might.

This flavor is unmistakable scotch. I am always skeptical about this style because I never think it can really capture that smokey peat goodness but it usually comes through. This malt is expertly done. This is my flavorite scotch ale so far. You get the full smokey flavor combined with the sweet richness of biscuity malt. The hops aren't really noticable but if they were I think this brew would be very painful on the palette. Like gin. I really hate gin.

If you like scotch and beer you will love this. Sam's scotch ale is a fantastic winter beer. The malty flavor is complex and provides all the right things. You won't miss the hops. I wish they would offer this in six packs. I would certainly pick up a few. If they ever start a gin ale I am boycotting.

Final Score: 89% (Warming, Malty, and Complex. What More Do You Want?)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beer Review: Sam Adams Boston Ale

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Boston Ale

Time for another Boston brew review. This time its the ale cousin of the classic Boston lager. Eventually I will get all 21 Sam Adams beers reviewed. The ale pours a dark copper color with a very robust head. Lacing forms a solid cylinder around the glass. Very cool appearance. Aroma is very hoppy. Its rare when I can actually smell some serious hopping and it bodes well.

Flavor is really nice. This is very much a pale ale, I would say in the American style. The malt is fairly noticeable with some biscuity lightly toasted flavors. The hop bitterness is very strong in this one. It hits you up front and then comes around again in the aftertaste. A little bit of grapefruity hop flavor present too.

This is a nice balanced American pale ale. Really goes down very easy. The only characteristic I would change about this beer is to include a little less bitterness and more hoppy flavor. The small amount of citrusy notes are really nice and I would like to see this flavor strengthened. Still, this is very smooth and would make a great session ale. This is very similar to the Boston lager. This brew just happens to be slightly more hoppy than its lager relative. If you need a very noticeable (but balanced) hop presence in your beer you would do well to choose this.

Final Score: 82% (A Hoppy American Pale Ale. Fairly Average but Very Drinkable)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beer Review: Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Time for another semi-local brew. I love this brewery and I will continue to support them. Especially after reading their book "Beer School". Very good read for all beer enthusiasts. Just make sure you have some Brooklyn brew handy because you will be craving it. The Pennant ale pours a slightly dark golden color with a decent head that sticks around for a few minutes. Not much going on in the lacing department. Aroma is nice with a very malty character.

The flavor is very surprising. The malt really wows me. It has a unique quality that I can't put my finger on. Its a very lightly toasted flavor. A little sweet and really add some depth. The hopping is also well done, providing a great balance to the rich malt goodness. I could use some more hops but that might through off the balance. It's tough to say.

This is very drinkable. Maybe even more drinkable than the classic Brooklyn lager. I wasn't anywhere near born by 1955 so it seems weird to be drinking a beer that celebrates the Brooklyn Dodgers victory then. In the end it doesn't really matter. This is a great beer that I will be sure to get again in the future. This quality of malt is very hard to come by. You owe it to yourself to try this at least once.

Final Score: 88% (High Quality and Very Drinkable Ale. Go Dodgers!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beer Review: Samuel Adams White Ale

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams White Ale

Seems ironic that I am reviewing the white ale a day after the black lager. This is a traditional unfiltered Belgian Wit style beer brewed with coriander and other spices for a unique taste. These are very hit or miss with me. I find them to be refreshing and occasionally I am in the mood for them but usually I will go for something else. Pours a cloudy pale golden color with a strong head that leaves some lacing around the glass. Aroma is definitely spiced, I get mainly coriander with some orange going on. Very inviting. Especially after the gym.

Flavor is exactly what I expected. Loads of spice flavor with a light malt flavor. Even tastes a little like corn though I am sure they only use barley in this one. I can't taste any hops as expected. One time I would like to brew a beer like this with a strong hop presence. Probably wouldn't be good but that's the game of experimentation. On a hot spring or summer day this will hit the spot but there is almost no reason for them to release this in January.

This is a very standard Wit beer. This will probably not wow you if you have had this style of beer a couple of times before. It's still a good representation but it doesn't stand out in any way. I view this beer as a benchmark for all other Wit beers. This hits all the style points but just doesn't leave you with a lasting impression. I won't seek this out again.

Final Score: 74% (Very Mediocre. Refreshing but Boring.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Black Lager

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Black Lager

Had to go with a taste of Bavaria tonight. This is one of the most drinkable styles of beer I have yet to encounter. Don't be intimidated by the color. I could even drink a schwarzbier on a warm summer day. Pours a very dark amber color with a slightly off-white head. Aroma is of malty sweetness with a little bit of cream.

Flavor is wonderful. This beer is extremely rich in dark roasted caramel flavor with a lot of nuttiness coming through. This would definitely pair well with some sort of nutty chocolate cake. The hopping is also very nice. The bitterness is there but very muted. Just enough to balance out the beer while still allowing the roasted sweetness through.

This is one of the very best offerings from Boston beer. Other beers of the schwarzbier style can be thin on flavor and one-dimensional but this really evolves as it travels around your palette. This is that rare combination of complexity and drinkability that beer lovers strive for. I can't come up with any flaws. You will like this.

Final Score: 90% (Deep Roasted and Very Drinkable. Great Brew!)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beer Review: Climax Doppel Bock

Climax Brewing Company Hoffmann Doppel Bock Lager

The last of the Climax seasonals. Hoffmann and co. really make a great lager. I was extremely excited about this release. How can you go wrong with a microbrewed malty seasonal release? Pours a light brown coppery color with a moderate head. Aroma is pure caramelized goodness. Not much in the way of hops but the malty goodness is really inviting.

The caramel flavor really jumps out. This is about as malty and rich tasting as a bock beer can get. There are some definite hop flavors going on, it just isn't the dominate flavor in the beer. The hops are really only used for bitterness. This is one of the best tasting malts around. There is even a little bit of roasted flavor that shows up in the aftertaste.

This will not disappoint anyone who is a fan of bock beers. A malt lover's dream. One of the most impressive things about this is that it still manages to be balanced. Even with the generous quantity of dark malt used. If you are looking for a hoppy beer you should look elsewhere. If you are in the cold and need something hearty, this will hit the spot. A great beer done in the traditional style.

Final Score: 91% (Very Complex and Drinkable. Masterfully Done.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Beer Review: Saranac Bohemian Pilsener

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Bohemian Pilsener Lager

Time for another review. This is the last beer I have to review in the new 12 beers of winter from Saranac. I love that F.X. Matt puts out multiple new beers every year. It really shakes things up and enhances the limited feel of seasonal releases. This is a really tricky style and I always like to see how different breweries handle it. This is the beer that scared the Germans so much that they developed the Munich Helles style to fight back. A beer this light (it pours as light as a Budweiser) has no room for imperfections and off flavors. No dark roasted flavors to cover anything up. The aroma is very rich in the classic pilsener malt. It has that distinct pilsener malt smell that only the beers done authentically with the correct yeast strain and temperature can acquire.

Flavor is dead on for the style. The spicy saaz hops and the surprisingly malty pilsener malt really balance each other out. This is perhaps the most drinkable beer in the Saranac line. I really enjoy these hops. You will really be hard pressed to find a better hop varietal to counter the malty pilsener flavor. It has a quick grassy bite that rapidly fades and leaves you with a smooth aftertaste. Another word that comes to mind when drinking this beer is "clean". This is smooth, light, and clear. Yet it has flavor. Very impressive.

If I had to recommend one of the new Saranac beer styles for availability in six packs this would be my choice. This is an insanely drinkable lager and if there was ever a beer to introduce people who only drink very cheap light lagers to the world of bigger beer this would be my recommendation. The one question I am left with is why they put this in the winter mix pack. Pilseners are traditionally warm weather beer. I enjoy different styles year round but I would just like to hear the official response. Give this a shot!

Final Score: 89% (Very Authentic and Drinkable.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Beer Review: River Horse ESB

River Horse Brewing Company Extra Special Bitter Ale

I really enjoy a good ESB. I am trying to continue to buy local beers as much as possible and buying a Jersey beer where the brew master lives in the same city as me seems about as good as I can get. This pours a full golden brown color with a great head that lingers for a long time. The aroma is rich in hops and a little bit of acetaldehyde (a crisp green apple flavor/aroma).

Flavor is great. For me there are two keys to a good ESB. The first requirement is great hopping. They need enough hops to balance the pale malt but not too much that it is overwhelming. Everything needs to be in balance. The second requirement is the acetaldehyde.
This may be considered a "defect" in many beers but I welcome it's presence in small quantities. It adds a crisp refreshing bite that adds to the complexity. Fortunately, this beer meets these requirements perfectly. There is even a bit of an alcohol bite, but nothing too much above a general pale ale.

This is a great brewing company and I will continue to support them and other Jersey brewers as much as possible. This will definitely hit the spot if you are in the mood for an English style treat. I still have yet to go to England but I can't imagine that the authentic bitters are any better than this. I am impressed. This is truly worthy of the "Extra Special" name.

Final Score: 92% (A Wonderful ESB. This Will Hit The Spot.)