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 inĀ  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%

Hopped Up

lagunitas.jpgIt’s gotten to the point in my beer-tasting “career” that people think of me and pick up new beers they see. I’m very OK with that. Someone brought me this Lagunitas IPA, brewed in Petaluma, CA. Lagunitas says on their website that this IPA is brewed with “43 different hops and 65 various malts.” That’s a heck of a lot of flavor going on there, so I was ready to taste this sucker.
Appearance: This beer poured with a really big, fizzy white head, which left a lot of lacing. The first glass was a crystal clear ruby brown, but glass #2, the bottom of the bottle, had a lot of yeasty sediment.
Aroma: Considering all of the hops and malts going on in this beer, I didn’t catch a lot of smell. Whether it was my environment (lots of food smells going on when I tried this beer out) or my nose, I’m not sure. I mostly caught some bread and hay scents from the malts. A little bit of hops were present, floral and citrusy.
Taste: In contrast to the weak aroma, this beer was full of good flavor. Bitter hops up front rounded out by a really nice rich malt flavor. I really liked the balance of this beer.
Mouthfeel: Standard IPA mouthfeel for an IPA, watery to oily.
Overall, I must say I really enjoyed this beer, but I wonder if I should try it again soon. I didn’t find it incredibly hoppy or fragrant, whereas most of the reviewers on Beer Advocate found that it was.

The Facts:
ABV: 5.70%
IBU: 45.6
Original Gravity: 1.059

Unearthing A Gruit Ale

I was pleasantly surprised to find a Gruit Ale on one of my visits to New Beer. Gruit is a combination of herbs thatgruit.jpg were used to brew beer before the use of hops. There’s really an extensive and remarkable history to Gruit. The way it tastes, the way it effects you, and even in a social context. You can check it out at Wikipedia for a fairly decent history, or maybe I’ll write more on it later. Anyway… back to Two Druids!
Appearance: Pours with a small head that quickly fades away. There are all sorts of particles swimming around in the body of this ruby/caramel/brown/gold beer. I’m not sure how to capture the color, and my photo does no justice. These particles make for a murky beer.
Aroma: This beer has an aroma that you might expect from a seasonal holiday brew. Herbs and spice and some other things nice. Nothing over the top in any one area. My nose is assaulted by such a variety though. I small rosemary and maybe cloves or cinnamon, a raisin/apple smell combined with the alcohol gives this beer a white wine kind of smell. There’s also a kind of tangy smell that makes me think of soy sauce.
Taste: I’ve got to admit, I was terrified to sip this beer, but I knew it had to be done. I was pleasantly surprised! Often something with herbs and spice reminds me of chomping on potpourri, but this one didn’t. The flavors weren’t too overwhelming. There’s a bit of bitterness in this beer that fades to a slight sweetness. It reminds me of a cider, rather than a beer. That thinking makes me feel like this beer will taste good even as it warms to room temperature (as I imagine it was served in the ancient days that it was brewed).
Mouthfeel: While I was expecting this beer to have a strange mouthfeel, because of all of those particles floating around, it didn’t. It had a lot of body with a feeling somewhere between oily and creamy without being too filling.
What an interesting surprise this beer was. I love that the guys at Heavyweight Brewery put themselves out there and tried this unusual brewing technique. While it’s obviously not a brew for every day, if you’re into beer, don’t pass up the opportunity to try this unique brew.

The Old Fashioned Sierra Nevada

snipa.jpgI’ve got to say that I find Sierra Nevada to be one of the best, widely available micro brews. I can always count on their Pale Ale at just about any local watering hole, though I’d never had their IPA. Since about 1980 Sierra Nevada has been brewing from Chico, CA. Now, it seems, that Sierra Nevada is available in pretty much all 50 states. That’s a great success story for micro brews and Sierra Nevada still puts out a quality beer.

Appearance: This beer pours with a huge head for an IPA, probably a little over an inch, that took a while to diminish. When it did, I had little mountains of lacing on the top of my glass. Color-wise, this IPA is a dark orangey-amber.
Aroma: Mostly a piney-resiny smell to this IPA, though I do detect hints of grass and slight citrus. I smell the malts a lot in this one. A toasted caramel fragrance as well as a slight yeasty dough smell.
Taste: On first taste, this beer came on pretty darn bitter. It had that metally-bottle kind of taste, if that makes sense at all. After the first sip though, it was all hops. Pretty bitter that fades to a pretty decent maltyness. Overall a pretty good reflection on the aroma.
Mouthfeel: A standard IPA mouthfeel, water to oily with a lively amount of carbonation.
Overall, I enjoyed this beer, but I think I prefer Sierra Nevada’s regular Pale Ale for which they’re so well known. While this one is a little more bitter, I didn’t note a whole lot of difference between the two (though I wasn’t drinking them back to back).

The Facts:
ABV: 6.9%

An Organic Stout

old-plowshare1.jpgI haven’t had a stout in a few weeks, let alone an organic one. I came across the Old Plowshare Stout at New Beer and thought it looked interesting. It seems that Old Plowshare comes from Northcoast Brewing Company, possibly manufactured for Whole Foods? I had a hard time following the trail, as neither site references this particular beer, but other review sites refer to the two companies. Apparently, this is supposed to be an organic version of Northcoast Brewing Co’s Old No. 38 (these guys really like old stuff, don’t they?)
Anyway, I think this was my first shot at an organic beer. This beer poured smooth with little to no head. It was a real dark reddish-brown. For a stout, it had a great scent. Full of chocolately goodness. On taste, I personally felt it was a little… acidic or bitter at first? I suppose in a way that coffee might be. But after the first few sips, that feeling quickly faded away. In contrast to the chocolately smell, the taste was more coffee-like and one taster on ratebeer gave it a “raisin-y” label, which I thought was a good call. Overall, this was a pretty good stout. Though I usually like a stout with a little more flavor, I thought Old Plowshare was pretty good and easy to drink – not overly filling or anything. Overall, I give this beer about a 16/20.

The Facts:
ABV: 5.7
IBUs: mid 40’s
values:
$.12/oz.
.46 oz/$
(a lot of these facts I snaked from Charlie the Beer guy’s Organic Episode on Speaking of Beer. Please check out his podcast. I think it’s the best beer podcast out there)