Monday, August 30, 2010

Le Merle-North Coast Brewing

North Coast Brewing - Fort Bragg, CA - Saison (Farmhouse Ale) 7.9% abv
16.9.4 oz dark brown bottle. No freshness date.
It pours a hazy orange-hued amber color with a thin white head along with some flecks and patches of lace.
A nice range of smells from farmy, to musty basement, mixed fruit, nutty barley, floral hops and earth.
The flavors are as wide ranging. Tart fruit, zesty citrus, doughy bread with a dose of white Zinfandel wine all mix and play well together.
A bit of an astringent medicinal twang leaves a bit of a raspy mouthfeel, although not in an entirely bad way.
You can tell some care went into this brew. It's a Saison with a purpose in mind.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Corona Extra

Grupo Modelo - Corona Extra - 4.6% abv
You can see and feel the masterful power of the Anheuser–Busch marketing machine behind this cheap, watery, bland, corn-mealy, highly over-rated suds. Notice the bottle on its side in this image? It's best that way. Pour it out!
Rating – Listen to the warning bells going off in your head whenever someone tries to squeeze a lemon or lime wedge into your bottle. – It’s either flavorless or disgusting. This pale yellow swill with the fast fading white head holds a light pasty corn meal malt, almost flavorless light hops and a sweet wet corncob aroma and taste. An awful syrupy sweetness just adds to the absolute shittiness of this foul adjunct-laced septic waste. Even with the lime, it's a poor excuse for a beer. Retched!

Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Samuel Smith - IPA - England - 5% abv
“Top fermented in Stone Yorkshire Squares.”
It pours a brassy copper color with a fairly good-sized white head and some trails of lace. A floral hop aroma is front and center and light malty smell mingles with a faint whiff of cut hay. The biscuity malt body is lightly grainy with just a hint of caramel sweetness. This highly hopped ale displays a sharp grapefruit bitterness with a mild lemony sour taste. The light metallic tang provides some back of the throat edginess. A mildly herbal quality offers little reprieve from the bitterness, but does manage to provide an interesting angle to ponder.
This in the original IPA style and a very good example at that.

Harviestoun Brewery - Bitter and Twisted IPA

Harviestoun Brewery Ltd - Scotland - 4.2% abv
From a review in 2003
A real treat to find this at the NERAX 2003! Bright golden in color with medium-sized bubbles and a fast fading head. The lace is thin, but a little sticky. The hoppy aroma is slightly mellowed by hints of lightly roasted malt. Sharp, citrusy bitterness with an edgy aggressiveness. Mellows, sweetens and balances out toward the end of the glass. Very gulpable!


Reissdorf - Germany
16.9oz brown bottle. No freshness date. 4.8 abv
It pours a clean straw/golden color with a foamy, slow-fading snow-white head and some trailing and patchy lacing.
A mildly fragrant dry malt smell is noticed upon a fairly hard pour. A faint aroma of cut hay lasts.
A surprisingly sweet and firm malt body lives within its rather weak appearance. The delicate hop profile has a light lime-like quality with just a hint of a metallic tang.
This is a brew that requires a more careful examination to identify subtle flavors and fragrances. Nothing except the appearance profile jumps out as obvious or easy to characterize. Very approachable.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Turning Water into Beer?

Please don’t shoot the messenger here, but let’s consider the possibility that Jesus may have actually turned water into “beer” not wine at the wedding feast in Cana (Canaan) of Galilee as written in John 2:1-12. It is well known that Jesus spoke in the ancient language, Aramaic. The Aramaic and Hebrew translation of ‘Strong Drink’ (a fermented barley) to Latin is literally bibere, or ‘beer'. It is also known that grains such as barley, wheat and corn were in abundance throughout the Canaan region in Palestine where beer was commonly brewed. Water is needed to create beer. Wine is made from fermented grapes. Water is not needed to make wine. When the bible was translated into the English language under the orders of King James, it is quite possible that the word strong drink, or beer, which was by then considered a drink of the lower classes, was changed to wine, a drink enjoyed by royalty and the wealthy aristocrats of King James’ time. I wasn't there, but my guess would be that beer, not wine created all the buzz at the wedding of Cana.
What do you think?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black Sheep Special

Black Sheep - Masham, N. Yorkshire Ripon, UK - 4.4% abv
It pours a deep copper color with a big beige head and plenty of sticky lace.
There's a biscuity malt and floral hop aroma.
The rich and hearty malt has a biscuity taste and a caramel sweetness.
The cutting and bitter hops have tea-like and citrus bitterness.
It has raw and wild feel and a fine Micro-brew-like quality. All in all this is a very tasty and balanced brew with an edge. That it's low in alcohol means you can probably have another.

Ya, Oktoberfest has started early!

So Happy!
I visited Costco today and noticed pallets of Hofbrau Oktoberfest loading into place. Got a case! Am enjoying one (lots) as I type. The history of Oktoberfest is coming soon to blog near you!

Hofbrau Munchen - Oktoberfest

Hofbrau - Oktoberfest Munchen, Germany - 6.3% abv
12oz green bottle. No freshness date on bottle.
It pours a light gold color with a medium-sized snow-white head and some sheets of sliding lace.
The aroma is mild. There's a light smell of sweet malt and an ever so faint smell of over- ripe fruit.
It's not very malty for the style, although this brew is slightly heavier than the HB lager. A taste of bread dough and a mild herbal quality add a rounded flavor and mouthfeel.
A Euro-hop metallic tang and weak citrus bitterness are more upfront than is normally expected for the style.
Not a bad brew, just a different, less malt-driven, with a more alcoholic punch representation of the style.

Hacker Pschorr - Oktoberfest

12oz bottle - Munich, Germany - 5.8% abv
IMHO, one of the very best representations of the true Oktoberfest beers. Deep Gold/Amber with orange hues in color with a sweet off-white lasting head and sticky, clingy lace. Lightly caramel sweet aroma with a hint of citrus. Slightly citrus, lightly tea-like and a touch of metallic hop bitterness. Rounded malt and hop balance. Honey and fresh fruit notes. Really velvety smooth. Rich, Bold, Tasty! Wow!

Samuel Adams - Stock Ale

Sam Adams Boston Ale/Stock Ale from Boston Beer Company 5.2% abv
This is my favorite "everyday" ale. Always has least since I first tried it. When researching and rating a vast array of ales and lagers, from delicate pilsners to over-whelming imperial stouts and barleywines, it's good to find an ale with which to refresh the palette or to simply enjoy without research in mind (yes, at times we need a break from the daily grind). This ale has a deep copper color with reddish hues, nice malty body and is amply hopped. The separation between the distinct malt and hops flavors, smooth out and become more balanced after a few gulps. The fresh finishing hop aroma lingers. There's a clean fruity finish and nice long lasting head. Now I’ve gone and made myself thirsty for one!

Lammin Kataja Olut - Sahti

Lammin Kataja Olut - Lammin, Finland 8% abv (or 7%abv)
11.2oz dark brown bottle. No freshness date.
It's difficult to compare the looks of a non-filtered Sahti to any typical farmhouse ale, so that said, it's hard to grade it poorly in comparison.
It pours a hazy orange-hued dull amber color with a minimal bubbly beige head that leaves thin sliding lace in its wake.
It smells somewhat like fresh cut birch, with a faint smell wet hay and distant smoked meat.
The thin malt body is sharp-edged and a bit harsh, but it provides an interesting backbone for the bitterness of the woody tasting juniper branch. A light lemony tartness lasts throughout, as does a Gueze-like apple cider vinegar taste. The 7.0% abv is well disguised.
This fragile brew has a short shelf life, so be sure to get it as fresh as possible

Lammin - Sahtia (Sahti)

Sahti - Lammin, Finland 7.5% abv
11.2oz brown bottle. No freshness date.
I gently rolled this bottle over and over to dislodge and blend the solid mound of yeast at the bottom of the bottle.
It pours a very cloudy yellowish amber color with a smallish off-white head and bits of yeasty goodness floating about.
Upon opening, I was instantly hit with the smell of fresh cut red oak, with a nice birch-like smell in the background. A light smell of vinegar cider and cut hay come to mind.
The malt body provides a very dry grain and husk taste. The juniper branch has a tart and slightly astringent, edgy bitterness to it.
Tastes of vinegar cider and wild yeasty flavor slide through and last throughout the glass. A very faint smoky taste comes and goes.
This brew has an interesting lemony and metallic tang.
Unusual and different. It gets better as it warms.

Brooklyn Monster Ale

Brooklyn Brewing Co.
2003 Vintage
It pours a deep, dark amber. An off-white head, although fast fading, can be achieved with a rather heavy pour. A surprising amount of lace (given the high ABV) sticks in sedimentary layers.
The aroma is mainly of rum-soaked fruit. A sweet malty smell, along with some fragrant hops follows. The alcohol hit is undeniable. The rich and sweet caramel malt is fairly oily in texture. Flavors run the gambit from sugary sweet, to sharp-edged citrusy bitterness, to a rummy and sherry-like alcohol fuminess. This brew is NOT for the faint of heart. I'd love to have another, but I have to go to work in the morning!

Fantome-Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Brasserie Fantome - Belgium 8% abv
750 ml dark green capped and corked bottle.
My mother-in-law (a Heinie and Stella fan) tasted and fell in love with this Saison at a local beer tasting. She purchased a bottle to share over a dinner of Belgian Beef stew. NICE PAIRING!
Anyway, it poured a cloudy orange-hued light golden color with a big, frothy white head and loads of sticky, clinging lace.
A big citrusy fruit and floral bouquet is somewhat muddled by a distinct barnyard smell. A light smell of dried hay is noticed in the background, as is a mild alcohol fuminess.
Given the light color, I was surprised by the full, sweet, nearly oily malt body. Flavors of toffee, orange zest, lemon, honey, and fresh bread are so in balance. A light floral, clove and peppery taste help keep things in harmony. A very mild taste of sweet light rum finishes nicely.
This is a very well-conceived and made concoction!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grotten Pierre Celis Signature Series

25.9 oz brown bottle. No freshness date listed. Poured into an Orval goblet.
It pours an auburn, leathery tan color with a fast-fading beige head. Not much lacing to make a big deal about.
A very complex range of aromas from horse barn, leather, tobacco, malt, fig, fresh flowers (at a distance) resinous hop and a whiff of dark rum meld well together.
A velvety slightly sweet malty body carries tastes of caramel, plum, bran flakes, brown sugar, lemon zest, orange peel, herbs and light rum (in that order). There's a slightly off-putting astringent edginess to the mouthfeel, though not entirely a bad thing.
I would LOVE to see this "Signature Selection" come back for another go-round. I would cellar many and drink more.

Konings Hoeven - Tripel

Trappist Ale from Tilburg, Netherlands 8%abv
25.9oz brown bottle. 09:26 stamped on back label.
Poured into a Kapittel goblet.
This Trappist Ale from the Netherlands compares well (though differently) to the more popular Belgian Trappist.
The color is a rich copper-hued amber with a dense, but fast-fading off-white head. Some trailing lace clings desperately.
A yeasty aroma reminiscent of a Belgian Trippel pops out at first pour. Husky malty aromas follow. A blend of hop smells vie for attention. The citrusy one wins! A faint whiff of light rum is revealed as it warms.
A very balanced yet meaty malt body carries a wide range of flavors beginning with a big taste of caramel malt, candied sugar, citrusy and resiny hops. Earthy tastes of dried figs and tobacco linger in the background. A light fumy rummy kick is there throughout. All in all a very nice drinkable big-bodied ale. Nice!