Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beer Reivew: Arcadia Cocoa Loco

Arcadia Brewing Company Cocoa Loco Stout

My first encounter with Arcadia's big beer series. This is of the 2006 vintage. I am excited about this creation. I love a chocolaty stout and this one should be able to deliver. The loco pours a very dark brown color with one of the darkest heads I have ever seen. Impressive work. Aroma is loads of chocolate. Very exciting.

The flavor of this brew is amazing. Rich chocolaty flavors immediately come through and end very smoothly. The lactose addition really makes this drinkable. Aging could have helped a bit too. This is that rare big beer that you just want to keep drinking and drinking. The molasses flavor stays in the background but does surface after the initial shock of chocolate. The sweet flavors swirling around in the glass add plenty of complexity. Just don't expect a very pronounced hop presence.

You will not be disappointed with this beer. Occasionally, I will try a beer advertised as chocolaty and be very disappointed. I was not with this. This has what I feel is a maximum chocolate concentration for beer. The use of different fermentables really add a tremendous amount of depth to this crazy ale.

Final Score: 95% (One of the Best Stouts Around. Chocolaty Paradise.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beer Review: Magic Hat H I.P.A.

Magic Hat Brewing Company "H" India Pale Ale

All brewing companies should release two different IPAs like Magic Hat. A hoppier version (the H) and a more malty version the year round IPA. I love a good seasonal release. The HIPA pours a hazy copper color with a ridiculously robust head. Loads of lacing all over the glass. Full citrusy aromas from even a weak sniff. This has all the right appearance characterisitics. Lets get down to the soul.

Hoppy flavors burst from this beer. This is a very rare kind of IPA. This has loads of hop flavor and aromas while not being overly bitter or undrinkable. Surprisingly thirst quenching. I think I could drink this all night (or day) and not burn out any essential tasting abilities. Very light on malt flavors but because this is drinkable I don't really mind as much as I might in other IPAs.

Definitely one of the best IPAs around. I would pick up some of this before summer rolls around. This was a great surprise and a solid example of a very hoppy beer that is extremely drinkable. A little more malt character would have taken this beer to the next level but I really don't know if you can add even a small amount of malt while still maintaining the crazy hop flavors showcased here. Get this!

Final Score: 90% (Wonderful IPA. Beats Most Hands Down.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beer Review: Saranac Stout

F.X. Matt Brewing Company Saranac Stout Ale

This has been one that I have been awaiting for a while. I know that the Saranac Stout is included in the year-round Black and Tan but I really wanted to try the unadulterated Stout. Finally, the newly available "What Ales You?" variety 12 pack contains two bottles of the hard to find Stout. The brew pours very dark. Nearly opaque mahogany color with a strong tan head and loads of lacing everywhere. I don't get much in the aroma department. Maybe some coffee notes but nothing too overt.

The flavor is very roasted. On par with the style you will get loads of coffee and chocolate flavors coupled with strong hop bitterness. While this brew does conform to the style guidelines it does also have a unique milky creaminess that sets it apart from other Stouts. I also find the relatively low ABV of 4.8% really showcases the flavor of a solid stout. I find myself more and more liking the lower alcohol stouts more than the bigger beers. The roasted malt flavors seem to come out better without the alcohol flavor competition.

This is definitely one of the best Stouts around. I would call this a couple steps above (some may cry sacrilege) a Guinness. The roasted malt flavor with the very noticeable hop bitterness is extremely well done. You will certainly enjoy this brew and I will be sure to pick up more of the "What Ales You?" packs while they are still around.

Final Score: 87% (Great Stout. Drinkable, but Deep. Nice Addition)

Beer Review: Long Trail Double Bag

Long Trail Brewing Company Double Bag Ale

About time I got around to reviewing some Long Trail products. They generally provide solid quality craft brews at very affordable prices (my favorite qualities). This is a very unique brew that comes highly recommended to me. I don't know what category or "style" to force this beer into but then again it really doesn't need to be compartmentalized and can be its own style. The double bag pours a clean amber color with a very solid bone white head. Some definite lacing around the glass. Aroma is pure, rich, and deep maltiness.

The flavor is very surprising. As advertised, you will not notice the robust alcohol level of 7.2%. The malt flavor really shines. I don't know how they accomplished this miracle of science but I imagine that a large amount of crystal malt was involved. The depth of the malt flavor in this brew is awesome. Malty sweet and slightly roasted flavors really raise the bar for strong ales. The hops are also here in force. Very robust citrus hop flavors come through to balance out the sweet malt flavors. Somewhat similar to a bigger Oktoberfest beer.

The "INDULGE IN MODERATION" warning on the label is actually a good idea. This is much more drinkable than you might expect for the ABV level and I could definitely see how someone could but these down really quickly and get into trouble. This is a delicious brew and one worthy of your drinking. If you want a fresh brew that has flavor to spare this is a great find. This is not going to last very long in my fridge. In fact, I think I may want another...

Final Score: 92% (Dangerously Drinkable. The Double Bag Abides.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beer Review: Brother Thelonious Ale

North Coast Brewing Company Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Style Ale

Interesting idea for a beer release. North Coast donates two dollars for every case sold to the Thelonious Monk Institute to support Jazz music. I like it. I am also a huge fan of dark Belgian ales. Seems like a recipe for success. Pours a dark mahogany color with an off-white head. Lots of lacing all over the glass. Aroma is pure chocolate and spice. Very inviting.

Flavor is wonderful. Very complex chocolate and caramel malt flavors with that classic Belgian spiciness floating around. Hoppy flavors and bitterness are there but in the background and subdued. This beer really melts in your mouth if such a thing is possible. Really viscous in your mouth and then lightens up as it warms. Chocolate to caramel to spice. I even get some oaky flavors. Delicious.

This may be a hard one to find in Jersey but I really recommend picking up a bottle if you can. The fact that this supports Jazz music is also a huge plus. The high alcohol percentage (9.3%) will also ensure good aging if you feel so inclined. I doubt I would have the patience for that. This is one complex beer that will hit the spot. Worth every penny.

Final Score: 95% (Deep, Warm, and Complex. Dark Belgian At Its Best.)

Beer Review: Arcadia IPA

Arcadia Brewing Company India Pale Ale

Its rare for me to find anything from Arcadia around Jersey so I was pleased to be able to pick this up. Seems like IPAs are quickly becoming the most prevalent craft beer style produced in the country. Would be interesting to see production volumes for different styles. This IPA pours a hazy dark copper color with an average head. Some lacing around the top. Aroma is very minimal. Some hops and a little bit of malt but not too much.

Flavor is very odd for an IPA. The malt has an odd sour flavor which doesn't do a very good job of balancing this hoppy brew. The hops are there in force but it really isn't very aromatic or flavorful. More bitter than anything else. Sour and bitter really don't work well together. Tasting this doesn't make me want another.

I don't know if much of the freshness was lost in the journey from Michigan but this is really underwhelming. Definitely one of my least favorite IPAs. I would like to try it on tap somewhere to see if it's just this batch. I will try more of their releases if I can find them but this is really not impressive. I would avoid this.

Final Score: 65% (Poor Malt Flavor. Only Bittering Hops. Not Much To Love.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beer Review: Michelob Irish Red

Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company Michelob Irish Red Ale

Time for a seasonal Michelob release. Have to give the "King of Beers" a fair shot too. Price is right too. Hard to beat just over six dollars for a six pack of good beer. Lets just hope this actually turns out to be good beer. The Irish Red pours a medium copper color with an average tan head. No lacing present. The aroma is very malty. So far so good.

The flavor is surprisingly balanced and drinkable. Very nice sweet malt flavor up front followed by a very nice hop balance. The lightly toasted malt really adds a lot to the body. The hops aren't extremely assertive but they really shouldn't be for an Irish red. They are ample for balancing the malty ale. There is still that characteristic Anheuser-Busch yeast flavor that seems to come up in most of their products but the malt power dominates.

This is a very solid example of the style. This won't blow you away with a deep malt complexity but it will provide you with a great session beer. The price really makes this a great buy. I would still point you too the slightly (under a dollar) more expense Saranac Irish Red over this due to the better crystal malt quality but this is a very close second. Good job AB!

Final Score: 84% (Drinkable and Simple with a Sweet Malty Flavor. Great Price!)