Monday, April 27, 2009

Beer Review: Saranac Rye Pilsener

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Rye Pilsener Lager

The final new release of the Saranac 12 Beers of Summer. This is probably the release I was looking forward to the most as I love a good rye beer and always enjoy classic styles redone with a little bit of rye malt. I still am not certain of the official spelling of this style of beer (pilsener or pilsner? I certainly see both.) but I will continue on. Pours a golden/bronze color with a light head. Minimal malt aroma going on.

The flavor is very well done. I think this may be the standout of the new releases. The rye malt melds well with the very rich golden malt to create a unique combination that is very drinkable. Hoppiness is also here in full force. All the spicy hop goodness that you enjoy in a traditional pilsener is here.

Overall, this has fantastic drinkability and a great rye malt complexity that is hard to come by. This is the one new Saranac brew that I think has enough strength to stand on its own and get sold in six packs. This is a great addition to the mix pack and will be very thirst quenching on those particularly hot days.

Final Score: 86% (Deep and Thirst Quenching. What a Summer Release Should Be.)

Beer Review: Saranac Pale Pale Ale

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Pale Pale Ale

Time for the most entertaining of brews. It’s hard to ignore the humor of the pale pale ale. A pale ale that is actually very pale? They must have hired some good writers in Utica. I like it. The pale pale (or pp, yes I am mature) pours as promised a pale golden color with a very sturdy head. Some slight lacing near the top of the head. Aroma of fresh straw and grass. Real farmy.

This beer is satisfying. I wasn’t sure what to expect but this really surprised me. There is plenty of hop flavor to go around. Certainly equal hop levels to what you might find in a standard pale ale. No cut corners here. The malt is also in force but with the golden pilsner flavor rather than the amber malt most pale ale drinkers may be expecting. This is very similar to a pilsner just with more hopping.

Overall, this is a great addition to the summer pack. I do slightly miss the toasted amber malt but this brew really delivers on its name. If you ever wanted a lighter malt to accompany your pale ale this will please. Very tasty and earthy but could use some more sweetness to counter the strong hoppy backbone. I like the concept of this brew but the malt levels really need to be upped.

Final Score: 81% (Light Color and Hoppy. Could Use More Malt.)

Beer Review: Saranac Amber Wheat

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Amber Wheat

Another of the new releases contained in the 12 Beers of Summer pack. I suppose this may be the hefeweizen replacement. While I love that beer, I am always up for trying something new. The only question is whether amber will be too much for the summer. Pours a very cloudy/unfiltered amber color with a very robust head. A fair amount of lacing on the glass with a solid aroma of sweet amber malt.

Flavor is very good. Copious quantities of amber malt really allow a depth to this brew that many of the blonde/golden wheat beers seldom achieve. The unfiltered nature of the beer also allows a nice refreshing yeast quality that really goes down well on the hot days. This is similar to a standard summer ale, just with more yeast, and much more amber malt. Hops are not here in force.

In the end, it really comes down to two things. This is one of the most drinkable summer releases I have had so far. This is also very rich in amber malt to the point that it makes my mouth water as I write this. I don’t miss the hops at all right now. This brew combines the drinkability of a light blonde weizen with the rich malt body of an amber ale. You will enjoy this.

Final Score: 85% (Mouth Watering. Unfiltered. Need More Than Two.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beer Review: Saranac Helles

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Helles Lager

A new Saranac 12 Beers of Summer! Rejoice warm weather is here! With it comes 4 new Saranac releases. Exciting times we live in. The helles style is very appropriate for summer with its light hopping and golden malt goodness. Pours an EXTREMELY light golden color with a very solid head. Lots of lacing all over the glass. Aroma of sweet malt and maybe a little alcohol (seems odd).

The flavor is unfortunately underwhelming. Gotta love two consecutive double U words. The malt is very light and sweet as it should be but really offers no complexity. Same is true for the hopping. There is a slight bit of bitterness but really no standout flavors or aromas. There really isn't much to talk about. This reminds me of a rice beer.

This is one of my favorite styles of beer and I wanted to love this but it really doesn't deliver. I get a sweet malt flavor with very little else. Is it a good addition to the summer mix pack? Yes, it is drinkable and good on a hot day. Does this bring anything new to the table? No, this is uninteresting and about equal to an unskunked Becks or Heineken. I would not buy this in a six pack.

Final Score: 60% (No Character. Couldn't Pick It Out Of A Lineup.)

Beer Review: Magic Hat Wacko

Magic Hat Brewing Company Wacko Summer Seasonal Ale

This is a very unique offering. A summer ale brewed with beet juice. The result is as wacky as the name and the big pink head is very eye catching. If there was ever a beer that makes you feel completely unmanly this would be it. Don’t get me wrong. I like pink just as much as the next guy but this brew really pushes the boundaries of what beer can look like. My first pink beer. The aroma is not very robust with almost nothing detectable. Maybe some sweetness provided by the beet juice. Very hard to tell. No hops and no malt.

Fortunately, the flavor is not as bland as the aroma. There is a definite contribution from the beet juice. A very clean sweetness hits you up front before the malt and hops come in to play. The malt flavor is fairly clean with a little bit of cereal in the aftertaste. Tastes better initially then gets less enjoyable as it sits on your tongue. The hopping is adequate for balance but really provides minimal flavor.

Overall, this is a drinkable summer beer that offers a bit of a twist on light summer ale. I don’t even think you have to be a big beet fan to enjoy this. The impact on flavor is very small. Just don’t expect any big malt flavors or any hop presence. On exceptionally hot days I would strongly consider getting this again. Everyone should try this at least once for the novelty.

Final Score: 81% (Full of Character. Light on Flavor.)

Beer Review: Saranac Adirondack Lager

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Adirondack Lager

This lager is the flagship brew for the Saranac lineup. At least according to the website. It seems to me that the Pale Ale is more prevalent and shown in more Saranac publications including their newsletter. Yes, I am a proud member of Club Saranac. The lager pours a light copper color with a very foamy white head. Very minimal in the aroma department. I get a little bit of the characteristic Saranac yeast odor but really nothing else.

The flavor is very straightforward. This is a classic German style amber lager. Very drinkable and with a sharp hop bite after the initial sweet amber malt. The malt is extremely sweet and full but is balanced very well with the sharp hot finish.

This is not a deep or complex beer by any stretch of the imagination but it certainly is drinkable. There is enough flavor here to keep things interesting but I probably won’t buy this very often. If I want a flavorful session beer I can go elsewhere. There are other Saranac brews that would fill this role much more effectively.

Final Score: 70% (Not Enough Depth or Character. Not a Standout.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beer Review: Sam Adams Irish Red

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Irish Red Ale

Time for another Irish Red. Enjoying them while they are around. This used to be a style that I really didn't care for but I have definitely grown a taste for these. The malt flavors are generally very hard to compete with. This Red pours a deep copper/redish color with a sizable tan head. Aroma of toasted caramel malt and oven baked bread. Lets see how Boston's IRA stands up.

Flavor is nice. Immediately hits you with very sweet toasted malt flavors then follows up with a little spicy hop bitterness. Fairly balanced but I would like to see a little less sweet on the malt and a little more hop presence. It becomes too sweet after a few sips. This has flavor, just no drinkability to go along with it.

This brew hits all the style points and is certainly better than some IRA offerings but fails to wow me. My Irish Red of choice is still the Saranac version. This really isn't that much better than Anheuser-Busch's offering and you would safe a few bucks if you picked that up instead of this. Still, better than a Killian's or a Smithwick's.

Final Score: 76% (Tasty and Sweet. Needs More Balance.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Beer Reivew: Sixpoint Eight Days of Wheat

Sixpoint Craft Ales Eight Days of Wheat Ale

Picked up a growler of this from the Whole Foods on Bowery St. Great beer destination. They constantly rotate their tap selections and any place that offers growlers is way up there in my book of great stores. I almost always go for Sixpoint when available because they are local and they are very limited in the bottle department. You almost always need to either sample their offerings in the bar or bring them home in a growler. The eight days pours a very cloudy copper color with a very strong head. Very unique aroma going on that has loads of fruit, hops, and yeast.

The flavor is one of the most unique wheat flavors I have every experienced. Very fruity and has almost a tropical flavor to it. Hard to describe but this is great for warm weather. Has coconut and pineapple flavors swirling around. I would love to get my hands on this yeast. The wheat flavors are definitely there too. You won't get a typical hefeweizen flavor but you will get something different and in my opinion better. The wheat provides a very rich bready flavor that is malty but not overly sweet. Hops are there in force but do not overpower anything.

Balance is just right. This beer has everything going for it and is a great beer to show something new to someone who thinks they have seen just about everything wheat beers have to offer. You get hops, malt, wheat, and yeast. All in balance and done with expert proficiency. The only flaw I can find is the difficulty I may have finding this in the future.

Final Score: 96% (My Favorite Wheat Beer. Balanced, Complex, Unique, and Drinkable!)