Belgian-American

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.

Advertisements

Hefe-who?

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

Mmmm… Toasty!

toasted-lager.jpgYou have to love Fresh Direct. They’ve become a surprising source of micro-brews for me. And living on a 5th floor walk up, those delivery guys are heaven sent. I came across Blue Point Brewery’s Toasted Lager on their site and ordered me up a sixer. I wasn’t disappointed. I felt like this beer was incredibly fresh and easy to drink. I believe this will be the first of many samplings of Blue Point’s brews.
Appearance: Pours a nice dark orange with a good 1/2 – 3/4″ off-white head. The body is crystal clear. There’s a nice bit of lacing as well.
Aroma: The aroma on this beer really reflects the style. Lots of toasted malts, a little bit of grain or corn-type smell, and rich and nutty. There’s a bit of sweetness from the hops, but not too much, as well as a good deep breadiness.
Taste: Taste reflects scent in this beer. There’s a bit of hoppy bitterness right up front, but it’s immediately rounded out by the toasted malts and nutty flavor. There’s a yummy bread/yeast flavor that lingers briefly after tasting. I love that really rich yeast flavor – like the middle of a freshly baked loaf of bread. Delish!
Mouthfeel: Medium body with just the right amount of carbonation, this beer is very easy to drink. It’s not overly filling and would be great as a session beer. Pick this one up for your next get together and it’s sure to please the whole crowd.

The Facts:
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 28
Original Gravity: 1.054

Some Cheese Rat?

cheese.jpgBesides the fact that I really love beer, I also greatly enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. Since I’ve been keeping up with the blog, I’ve been opting for beer with my dinner, rather than wine. For the first time in several weeks I had a glass of amazing red wine and olives. It made me realize just how much I missed the pairing of wine, olives and cheese. I’m not a rat, but boy, I love cheese. It made me get to thinking about beer pairings. So later that night, I picked up some cheeses, some olives, and paired them up with the beer I had on hand – Dogfish Head‘s 90-Minute IPA.
While the gruyere & brie that I happened to pick up (not sure of what was in the fridgey atDogfish Ale home) weren’t perfect matches for the powerful flavor of the 90-minute IPA, tehy still tasted great together. My mild, but earthy gruyere went pretty good, but the IPA did really overpower the brie. And the olives? Well, I love a good olive, so maybe I’d be happy no matter what, but I really enjoyed the IPA/olive combo.
So there you go! We have our first pairing! It was definitely experimental, but I think that’s the fun way to do it. You can check out more on beer pairings at the useful Beer Advocate site. Let me know what your favorites are!

More Dogfish Head

indian-brown.jpgI find myself amazed at just how huge a variety of beers that Dogfish Head Brewery manages to create. One could spend weeks just trying different Dogfish beers and reviewing. Today, instead of an IPA, I’m trying their Indian Brown Ale. I found it a pleasantly refreshing flavor.
Appearance: Pours a dark dark ruby color with a good 3/4″ – 1″ nutty brown head. The body (though it’s so dark you can barely see through it) is crystal clear.
Aroma: Lots of malt fragrance in this beer. Dark, roasted malts. It smells so rich, like a really really good cup of coffee. There’s also a sweet smell like molasses or deep caramel, but I largely find that roasted nutty smell. Mixing with the malts is a nice bit of hoppy smell – pine or resin type smells, a nice earthy-type hop. I also smell a little bit of a tobacco smell, which I think is a mingling of the hops and malts.
Taste: Yum! Great rich nutty roasted malts on first sip, then you get those earthy hops. Not too much, mind you. Finally the aftertaste is that coffee flavor. There’s also a bit of mingling spiciness, but I can’t quite place the flavor.
Mouthfeel: This has a surprisingly rich and full mouthfeel. Kind of creamy.
Overall, this is a great ale. Hoppier than most, probably, but I really enjoy the complexity in this beer.

Going Publick

southampton.jpgToday’s brew comes to us from the Hamptons – Southampton to be exact. Based out in the Hamptons in Long Island, Southampton Publick House brings us a really nice variety of beers. Today, I’m checking out their IPA.
Appearance: Pours with a large foamy head – about 1 inch. Body is a cloudy, dark orange. Not much lacing to speak of.
Aroma: Surprisingly abundant caramel malt scent for an IPA. Lots and lots of hops though, as one would expect. The first notable fragrance to hit me is banana, as well as other fruity tones like apple, peach and citrus. There’s a very faint yeasty smell, but it’s pretty much overpowered by the hops and malts.
Taste: Lots of hops and malts in this beer. Almost a little too much malt for the American IPA that this beer is supposed to be. Strikes me as a more English IPA maybe. This isn’t, mind you, a mark against this beer. Just not quite what I expected.
Mouthfeel: Standard IPA – medium body, oily feel. Not much of a lingering aftertaste.
Overall, this is a pretty good, drinkable beer. If you’re hop-crazy, stick with something a little stronger, but if you’d like a nice, smooth IPA, this one’s a keeper!

Local Yokel

local1.jpgYou can call me biased, because I’m a New Yorker, but I am both enamored and fascinated with this beer. Brooklyn Brewery has really hit a home run with this beer. Their latest, the Local 1 is actually a bottle conditioned beer. This means that they put the beer in the bottle pretty much flat, with a bit of special yeast. The yeast then creates carbonation in the bottle. I find this whole process completely fascinating, especially because Brooklyn is the only brewery in the US doing this right now. It’s almost a lost art even in Europe. What this bottle fermenting does is give the beer an added complexity that any beer enthusiast will enjoy.
Appearance: Let’s talk about something beyond just the beer’s appearance. This is what takes this beer over the top. This bottle is a beautiful representation of what this beer is. It’s brewed in a very old European tradition and bottled in a gorgeous old-looking brown bottle that’s debossed with the Brooklyn B’s, topped off with a mushroom-y cork. That’s classic. Then, look at the label. This label is modern-retro. The design has a 40’s kind of feel, yet looks all modern. I adore the way they’ve designed this packaging.
OK, now we can talk about the liquid part of the beer. This beer pours just like a champagne (largely because of that bottle conditioning) – fizzy, with a great big foamy white head. The body is a cloudy gold-amber. The head eventually settles down, but never quite dissipates.
Aroma: I can smell this baby from across the room once I pour it. The beer exudes perfume, herbs, citrus and honey. Most of all I smell a pine aroma and a very slight scent of malt – grain and bread.
Taste: At first sip, this beer is very bitter, like a belgian IPA. The sweet hoppiness hits you up front, then the rich, bready malts come through. The pine flavor coming from the hops sticks with you and is the overall taste in this beer.
Mouthfeel: This beer both pours and tastes like champagne. The carbon fizzes all over your tongue and finishes really dry. There’s an incredible balance of hops, malts and alcohol here. The body is great as well, somewhere between watery and oily. Not too heavy at all. This is a great summer drink.
Overall this was an amazing beer. My only complaint is that for some reason, this beer kicked my butt. It was so easy to drink, and really, 9% alcohol isn’t a lot, but for some reason that alcohol really hit me hard. All that fizz must have gone to my head! Anyway, for more about this beer and it’s style, check out a few resources:
The stye, while an ale, is technically a Saison. Beer Advocate has a great description Saison ales.
Keith Olsen did a great and informative write up about this beer for the Malted Barley Appreciation Society.

The Facts:
ABV: 9%
Original Gravity (Plato): 18.5

Not-So-Magic Hat

Since I wrapped up my series on stouts, we’re wide open to try different types of beers. I returned back to that old Magic Hat variety pack that I’d picked up a week or two ago and decided to review the final beer – the 60 Winks Ale. Wow! What a disappoint60wink.jpgment! Magic Hat, I love you, but this is NOT the best beer I’ve tasted from you…
Appearance: This beer has a pretty nice appearance. A frothy white head dissipates pretty quickly. The body is quite clear and bubbly, a very golden yellow.
Aroma: Aroma, again, not bad. A lot of malts, a corn/meal kind of smell, a bit of grass and pine hops. There’s also a faint scent of alcohol lingering in there too.
Taste: What a disappointment! This beer has little flavor. Some hop bitterness up front and those corny malts. A bit of a yeasty aftertaste, but mostly… there’s nothin’ going on here. This tastes really watery and almost soapy.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel doesn’t help us out here. 60 Winks is really carbonated, but watery. I guess on a hot day, one might find it refreshing. There’s a little bit of metallics and bitter going on here. Generally, it isn’t the mouthfeel or a particular taste that’s steering me away from this beer, just the lack thereof.
Overall, I feel really bad disliking this beer, though I know I’m not alone. While some reviewers find many Magic Hat beers watery, I tend to really enjoy them, especially the No. 9. I don’t think they set themselves up very well, either, as the label on this baby is probably one of the most unattractive I’ve seen. A guy sleeping on a bed? Yuck… Sorry Magic Hat 😦

The Facts:
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 35
SRM: 5.0
Gravity: 1.056

   

Chocolatey Goodness

Another stout! Today’s stout is Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout. While many stouts boast a bit of chocolately flavor, some stouts are brewed to specicially to enhance that flavor, making a great beer to accompany your favorite dessert! Now I’m a big dessertchoco.jpg eater. And I’m a big beer drinker. But like two rival siblings, I’ve never been able to get these two favorites of mine to get along. I was curious how my Black Chocolate Stout was going to pair with the chocolate cookies I was having for dessert. But first, let’s talk basics:
Appearance: This beer pours with little to no head, but I get a good bit of lacing on my cup, as you can probably see in the photo. The color is as black as black can be. I can’t see anything through it.
Aroma: It’s all chocolate in this baby. Nice, dark chocolate. A bit of coffee undertones, but mostly, this makes me think of biting into a nice chunk of really good bitter dark chocolate. Wow… I’m making myself hungry…
Taste: Bitter up front. A surprising bit of hoppiness there, which in combination with the chocolate flavor definitely brings that bitter chocolate to mind. Then, the bitterness dissappates and the brings forward a rich, roasty choclate flavor and hints of espresso. Aftertaste is a lingering coffee flavor.
Mouthfeel: Super creamy and smooth mouthfeel. This beer is surprisingly drinkable. While the flavor is intense and powerfull, it’s smooth and not too filling. There’s a bit of astringent aftertaste, as this baby has a whopping 10.1% ABV.
Now for the real test. Does the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout fight nicely with my chocolate cookie? You’d better believe it! I’m an official convert. This pairing is amazing. The cookie is super sweet and when I wash it down with the beer, the chocolate flavores match rather than clash, and the alcohol just washes everything down.
Way to go Brooklyn Brewery. This is definitely one of the most pleasant beer surprises I’ve ever had 🙂

The Facts:
ABV: 10.1%
Original Gravity: 24.0
Plato:
1096

Winter Warmer

This morning, St. Patrick’s Day, New York woke up to this:winter.jpg

It was definitely time for a winter warmer, so last night I picked the Imperial Stout for my stout of choice. The imperial stout was originally brewed by Barclay’s Brewery in London with express purpose to export to the Tsar in Russia. This is why you’ll often see this beer referred to as the “Russian imperial stout”. Basically, the imperial stout has a higher alcohol content, which was intended to preserve it for the long export from England to Russia (9-10% is standard, compared to your average stout around 5%ish). The high alcohol content doubles as a warmer against cold weather. These beers also tend to have a rich malty taste with chocolate and coffee undertones and hints of fruit. Today’s imperial stout – The Victory Storm King.
As mentioned in a previous post, I really dig Victory Beer. So when I saw that New Beer was carrying my one of storm.jpgmy favorites, I couldn’t wait for the chance to add them to my lineup. The much acclaimed Storm King lived up to it’s task. It both warmed and satisfied my taste buds.
Appearance: Pouring as black as night, this beer initially boasted a fairly sizable head, about 1″, which quickly dissappated to a pleasant lacing on top.
Aroma: Yum! Lots of aroma here. Much different than yesterday’s Goose Island Oatmeal Stout. This stout boasts a surprising hop fragrance of pine and flowers. I even detect a slight fruity scent like apple. The malts smell of dark toasty chocolate and a hint of espresso, I smell a lot of molasses, too. There’s a little bit of alcohol smell, but nothing overpowering.
Taste: Double yum! The hops are bitter up front but quickly roll over to that malty flavor of molasses, chocolate and coffee. There’s an incredible balance to the hops and malts here that make this beer so very drinkable.
Mouthfeel: This is an incredibly smooth beer, somewhere between creamy and oily, but closer to oily. This beer is an examble of the great body and feel that a stout can have. Full-bodied yet drinkable.

The Facts:
ABV: 9.1%

« Older entries