The Beer Pirate!

It be smooth sailin’ from ‘ere Cap’n!
While I love and adore On Tap as a great blog name, I quickly came to the realization that there are about 398 other blogs out there named On Tap as well. So, not long after establishing the blog, I came up with a new name. The Beer Pirate!
The Beer Pirate manages to combine two of my favorite things – beer and pirates! So from now on, check into for all of the latest and greatest in beer goodness. Bear with me as I work with the layout and template and tweak things. I promise it’ll be tons of fun! I’ll be pillaging and plundering my way through all of your favorite American craft brews.



allagash.jpgToday’s selection, the Allagash Tripel Reserve comes to us from Allagash Brewery up in Portalnd, Maine. Allagash is one of those few breweries in the US that specializes in brewing Belgian-style ales.
Appearance: Pours with a fizzy white head that diminishes fairly quickly, but not all the way. It laces nicely as well. As is customary, this beer is a bit cloudy and nicely fizzy. The body is a really nice dark golden/orange color.
Aroma: A nice perfumy beer, this beer smells primarily of apple and maybe pear. Overall, this is a really sweet smelling beer, due to the Candi Sugar that goes into this style of brew. There’s a bit of spiciness lingering in the background as well
Taste: This beer is moderately sweet up front, followed by a nice earthy yeast flavor. There’s a spiciness that kicks in at the tail end and hangs out on the back of your palate for a bit. There’s also a tinge of alcohol in the flavor, not surprising for the 9% ABV in this baby, but it’s not as overwhelming as it could be.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied, but fizzy this beer is a nice summer beer. I found it a bit dry, because of the high alcohol content.
Overall, I think this Allagash Tripel Reserve is an excellent American take on a traditional Belgian style. While I enjoyed it, and have heard that it’s one of the best of this style (in US craft-beer), I didn’t find it quite as complex in flavor as some of the Belgian Tripels I’ve tried before. But I highly recommend this beer for any of you interested in a Belgian style brewed by an American craft brewery.


I can’t believe it wasn’t until just the other day that I’d heard of the BJCP – the Beer Judge Certification Program. The Beer Judge Certification Program states their purpose very clearly on their site: ” The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills. Founded in 1985, we certify and rank beer judges through an examination and monitoring process.”
While I’m not quite ready to become a certified beer judge, I do find their site incredibly informative and helpful! They have a great style-guide that explains what one should look for in aroma, flavor, appearance, everything! Make sure you check out their site. Maybe you’ll be a judge someday yourself!

Hazed and Infused

OK guys, I know this is starting to look like i’ It just seems like IPAs just kind of land in my hand when I’m out beer-hunting. I can’t help it! I promise this will be the last IPA for a while – promise. There are so many great styles of beer out there and we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. So even though it’s spring, I’m going to try and do some spring beers that aren’t IPAs. So without further adieu, let’s talk about this Hazed and Infused from Boulder Beer.
Appearance: This beer pours a gorgeous coppery color with a great foamy, frothy off-white head. Definitely a lot of hops going on here. The body is a bit fizzy and a bit cloudy.
Aroma: The aroma on this beer is super-hopped! Fruit and citrus abound, but mostly I smell apple and actually, peach. It took me a while to place that, but I’m pretty sure it’s a peachy smell. I’ve really got to hunt for a malt fragrance, but it’s somewhat there, a brown sugar caramel smell. There’s also a nice earth and hay smell from the yeast.
Taste: This beer tastes just like it smells! Boatloads of hops – crazy fruits and bitter up front. The earthy yeast and barely-there malts manage to save this beer from being too bitter.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel on this beer makes it really refreshing – light to medium in body and it lands somewhere between watery and oily. A nice balance of carbonation, too.
This beer is great for a hop head, but technically, a poor representation of it’s style. It seems to be labeled throughout the online as an American Pale Ale. If you ask me, this is more like a double IPA. There’s not a lot of balance going on in the malts and hops. So if you’re wild for hops, check this beer out, but if you’re looking for an American pale ale, you’ll get a serious surprise!

The Facts:
ABV: 4.85%
IBU: 70
Original Gravity: 12.5 Plato

UFO Solved

Well, I just solved a lot of my mysteries. When I went and checked out Beer Advocate’s entry about Harpoon’s UFO, I realized that it’s technically an American Pale Wheat Ale, not your standard German Hefeweizen, despite its name. Beer Advocate notes that in the American Pale Wheat Ale, “German Weizen flavors and aromas of banana esters and clove-like phenols will not be found.” Doh! well, therein lies the mystery. I was looking for those spice and fruits. What would we do with out you Beer Advocate?


So, I picked up Harpoon‘s Hefeweizen, UFO. I was really surprised at how un-hefe-like it was and now I’m kind of wondering if I got a dud. This hefeweizen barely had any characteristics of a standard hefeweizen. Or maybe I’m thinking of a different style? To my knowledge, most hefeweizens tend to be spicy and have banana, vanilla and even bubblegum smells. None here though! Meanwhile, I look over at the Harpoon site, and they do say: “The aroma has a faint but clear citrus-like character. This is produced by the special yeast and accounts for the Bavarian tradition of serving hefeweizens with a lemon.” So anyway… on with the tasting notes, but if anyone has any comments about this beer and where I may be mixed up, please pass ’em along!
Appearance: Pours very deep yellow with a nice 1″ of fluffy white head. The head doesn’t last long, but there’s a bit of lacing. One place where I’m definitely finding contrast in my review is that this beer was crystal clear! Or mine was, anyway. It was also good and fizzy.
Aroma: Not a lot going on for aroma. Largely, I’m getting a sense of the wheat, I guess, as well as citrus undertones and a breadiness (probably the wheat as well).
Taste: Taste is very reflective of the smell on this beer. Moderately sweet and bitter at the same time up front. I think the citrus hops want it to be bitter, but the wheat rounds it out to make it a sweeter taste. Then, that really dough-like flavor comes through from the wheat. The wheat flavor lingers for a while.
Mouthfeel: This is overall a good beer to drink. I’m surprised at how much body I find in it, since it’s supposed to be a lighter beer. The texture is kind of oily, and in contrast to how it looks, this beer is smooth and not overly fizzy.
So, I don’t know, did I have an off tasting night? I didn’t feel like this beer was hugely hefeweizen-like, though it was still good. Maybe I’ll give it a re-taste sometime soon!

The Facts:
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 19
Original Gravity: 12P
Color: 10 EBC

Gettin’ Steamy In Here…

Earlier today, I posted about Anchor Steam. Anchor Steam is just that – a steam beer. While doing the leg work on this beer, I realized that I’m largely unfamiliar with this style of beer, so I thought I’d share with you, too!
The cool thing about steam beer is that it was founded and used in the US – The American Northwest to be exact. In the early days, refrigeration was expensive, so brewers used special fermenting devices, called “coolships”. They were large, open and shallow, and could take advantage of the cool temperatures coming off of the San Francisco Bay. The key to the steam beer is that it is created with lager yeast, but at a temperature that one would normally brew with ale yeast. This gives the steam beer a distinctive taste that contains both lager and ale characteristics. In 1981, Anchor Brewing Company trademarked the name “steam beer”, so technically, they are the only brewery allowed to call their beer a “steam beer”. It is otherwise referred to as the “california common beer”.
The BJCP style guide gives a great overview of this style and explains what such a beer should taste like. You can also find an outstanding Wikipedia entry about the Steam/California Common beer, as well as Anchor Brewing Company. It delves into, not only how the style was developed, but it’s place in history and literature (we’re talkin’ gold here folks!).

Anchors Away!

I picked up a bottle of good old Anchor Steam. For being a widely available brew, I actually haven’t had this beer in a really long time. It was great to revisit it. Anchor Steam comes for the Anchor Brewing Company out in San Francisco. Check out their site for a great back story on how this beer got it’s name.
Appearance: Pouring with a fizzy white head, the body on this beer is a crystal clear, fizzy deep orange. Lots of bubbling and fizzing going on in this beer, though the head fades quickly and there isn’t a whole lot of lacing.
Aroma: The aroma on this beer is strong and sweet. There’s a toasted malt smell, slightly grainy and maybe faintly nutty, but I mostly smell the fragrant hops in this beer. Perfume and flowers, apple and citrus all resonate from this beer. There’s also a slightly earthy yeast smell in  the background.
Taste: Whoa! What a wallop to the palate! On first taste, there are these really strong apple flavored hops. Definitely a granny smith apple taste. Then, those toasted malts and yeast come through, surprisingly strong. Rich and bready. Finally, there’s a really bitter hop aftertaste, but that doesn’t linger for long. The jump in flavors – from hop, to malt, back to hop – is extreme.
Mouthfeel: This had a fairly light to medium mouthfeel. Highly carbonated, this beer was a bit too fizzy for me, but that made it pretty refreshing. The hops in this beer made it a little drying, and coating on the palate, though, that made it a little less refreshing.
While this beer was a little coating because of that wallop of hops, it was pretty good. A great session beer and easy to drink, it’s no wonder that Anchor Steam is so widely available.

The Facts:
ABV: 4.9%

Michael Jackson’s Ultimate Beer

I was thrilled to finally receive my copy of Michael Jackson‘s Ultimate Beer book that I’d ordered ages ago on Amazon. I had been looking for a good beginner’s beer guide for a while, and finally settled on this one. I’m more than excited about this book. It gives an amazing overview of the brewing process, different beer pairings, cooking with beer, how to pour different styles of beer, and an exhaustive run down of the different types of beers. If you’re looking for a great starter book, definitely check this one out!  (and that’s my reading rainbow review).

Supporting Your Local Brewery

In my post a few days ago I was having a heavy debate within myself about whether or not I should stick with American craft brews or not. Today, I checked out the blog over at the Beer Mapping project. They brought up the new site started by the Brewers Association, The purpose of this site is to have a network of beer-lovers on the lookout for smaller breweries and legislation that could harm them.
This made me realize why I felt so strongly about supporting small American craft breweries. I live in New York, and while New York is one of the biggest cities, I think it has one of the last small-town environments. I mean, I know my laundry lady, I know my neighbors. I go to the same little drug store, and the same small restaurants. They aren’t just stores that I go to. These are the people in my neighborhood (if you will). Please support your local brewery by both drinking their brews, AND by receiving e-mail alerts from the Brewers Association.

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