Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monster Ale 2007, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn New York

Barley wine - winter - happy.
I like the barley wine style of ales and am excited to try out Brooklyn Brewery's offering, the Monster Ale. As the website mentions, it is 10.1% with Scottish Floor-Malted Maris Otter and English Two-Row Malts; along with Willamette, Cascade and American Fuggle hops. It is aged four months... Now for it's due respect....

It pours a hazy amber with a tight head.

The aroma is sweet and a bit oaky - with a distinct alcohol.

The taste:
Cold: It has a full body with a lot of the oak flavor in there. It is sweet at the end with a little roastiness, as well.
As it warms: Oak/alcohol become more apparent, it becomes a little more thicker and the aftertaste is more dominant.

The aftertaste is complex with sweet malt and an earthy characteristic. It has a little tang and some brown sugar tones, as well.

This is a great barely wine. It is a wonderful sipper for the colder of cold nights. It's a little tough to find, but definitely worth seeking out!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snow Cap, Pyramid Breweries, Seattle Washington

Pyramid has several locations including Berkeley, Seattle and Portland. It offers up a variety of beers and I'm sure most of us beer drinkers have had at least one of their beers. One of their most popular brews is Snow Cap. Some years, I like this beer a lot - some years, not as much. Which will it be....

It pours a deep deep red, nearly opaque.

There is not much aroma - just mildly malty.

The taste is smooth malt. It has a medium/full body and is mildly sweet and mildly bitter. It is a good winter standard with a lot of girth to it. Easy to drink, but particularly strong. A great holiday party beer.

The aftertaste is mildly malty and bitter.

From the website:
Malts: 2-Row, Caramel, Chocolate
Hops: Nugget, Willamette, East Kent Goldings

It is available all over - grab one, this year - I like it!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mistletoe Bliss, Lazy Boy Brewing, Everett Washington

This is my first Lazy Boy beer. It is a brown ale, on the hefty side. The website states that it is 7.5% and brewed with Pale, Crystal, Munich, Brown, Vienna, & Chocolate malts and with Ahtanum hops....

It pours a deep reddish hue with a big foamy head.

The aroma is malt, spruce and a hop earthiness.

It has a medium body and very malt forward. It is sweet and becomes creamy as it warms. There is mild hop, but it is below the vanilla sweet that becomes more dominant as it is enjoyed.

The aftertaste is biscuity malt. It is very drinkable. Available in the 22 oz bottles, it disappeared quite quickly one fine evening!

Harvey's Christmas Ale, Harvey's, Lewes Sussex England

Our first International Holiday brew. Harvey's is available at several places in small 9.3 oz heavy bottles. Look for it at your local beer proprietor and occasionally at your well-stocked neighborhood grocer.
I've not had Harvey's before, so let's give it a try...

It pours a deep red with a big head.

The aroma is very sweet malt, almost cherry-ish.

The taste is malt and barley forward. It is a little sour in the body. There is a weird sweet/sour thing going on that seems to balance itself out by the finish. There are big hints of the cherry-ness throughout.

The aftertaste finishes sour and a bit bitter, but the palate seems to reset fairly quickly - which is good, otherwise, the cherry would get a little sticky and overbearing.

It is a good after dinner brew to drink slowly while watching the snow fall. I highly recommend it to those who have been around the usual block of Holiday ales and are looking for something different to quaff.


Winter Lager, Samuel Adams, Jamaica Plain Massachusetts

Massachusetts...I just moved from Boston where I enjoyed a couple of years of East Coast living. Of course, I had Sam Adams beer while there - as well as many beers from the Boston and Mass. area. One thing about Sam Adams - they have some free tastings you can sign up for once a month - which is a lot of fun. Though, in my view, a lot of their beers are baseline - that is the place where beer should start at and go up from, but never below - it is always fun to have free beer. One thing to note is that a little bird back east told me that most of the brewing is done away from Boston - they still have a facility in Boston, where they develop their beers and try them out on happily willing people like me!

The Winter Lager pours a medium amber with a thin head.

The aroma is sweet malt with a little spiciness.

The taste is malty, mild roasty and mildly sweet. It is easy to drink with a medium body. It is clean and crisp and would be easy to pair or drink alone.

The aftertaste is mild mild bitter and the palate resets quickly.

This is the kind of beer that would go over well with the middle-road beer drinkers. It is mild and subtle, but still offers some dimension. It goes well with a warm meal on a cold night. I prefer it with some Bluestone pizza on Commonwealth Avenue with mine!


Never Summer Ale, Boulder Beer Company, Boulder Colorado

Our next beer comes from somewhere that definitely knows something about winter. The Boulder Beer Company is advertised as Colorado's first brewery. They have an assortment of beers with a decent amount of distribution around the US.

The Never Summer Ale pours a deep red with a thin tight head.

The aroma is earthy hop and mildly sweet.

The taste is bright hop, fairly aggressive from the get-go, but the bitterness is balanced out in the body by the malt. It mellows to a soft malty and very subtle finish. It is a little creamy and very smooth. There is a slight sweetness with the malt in the finish. The hop mellows over drinking and the beer becomes a subtle winter warmer that is easy to drink and very easy to pair.

The aftertaste is mildly bitter with mild malt. The palate resets quickly.

This is an easy party beer - a little something for everyone in it's hop and malt. Not too extreme, so it is a safe bet -

From their website:

Bitish Dark Caramel Malt & U.S. 2-row Barley. The hops are: Nugget, Willamette, Cascade and "Top-Secret Brewmater's Spice"


Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Ale, Alaska Brewing Company, Juneau Alaska

So, we've all heard of the Alaska Brewing Company - let's see how their Winter Ale holds up. Its an English Old (or Olde - a little more authentic) Ale...

It pours a bright glowing amber with a medium head.

The aroma is hop with a mild tree-ish flavor. The website identifies it as Spruce, I'm not sure I can be that specific.

The taste is clean crisp hop with very little bitterness. It is a balanced ale - with a hearty body, that is definitely a warmer for the winter. The "tree"ness i.e. Spruce is definitely there in the finish. It finishes more complex than it starts and lingers nicely.

The aftertaste is mild - the malt, tree and hop linger before leaving the palate clean. It has a great warmth to it that grows as it is consumed!

I've seen the beer all over - it's an easy drinker that is a sure bet for enjoyment at a party. I think you could pair it with any holiday meal - it is 6.4 % with 27 IBU's.


Winter Warmer, Magnolia Pub and Brewery, San Francisco California

We took a recent trip to San Francisco and were lucky to discover the Magnolia Pub & Brewery on Haight Street. They had their Winter Warmer on tap, so we gave it a try -

It pours opaque.

The aroma is roasty mild sweetness and malt.

The taste is roasty malt finished with vanilla. However, it is not too sweet at all. There is no spice, but a full-body malt that gets better as it warms.

The aftertaste is mild bitter with mild vanilla sweetness.

I definitely recommend it to anyone in San Francisco - I don't think they bottle at all, so you have to go to them - which isn't a bad thing at all!

It is 7.8% with 15 IBU's


Old Bawdy, Pike Brewing Company, Seattle Washington

Barleywine. Excellent. I enjoy this style immensely, it is to some degree an acquired taste. The first time I had it, I didn't really enjoy it much. Now, it's a different story. We'll be sampling several Barleywine's here - as the Pike website mentions, it's been brewed for six thousand years - so, we'll definitely be giving it it's due respect!

I should mention, that no animals were hurt in this tasting. Above, is our guest sampler, Tank - my sister & brother-in-law's dawg.

It pours amber with a big head.

The aroma is sweet malt and smoky.

The taste is mild, but complex. There is sweetness and hop as well, but that gives way to an oak and smoky flavor. There is also caramel/brown sugar in there as well. It is a viscous brew.

The aftertaste is hop floral and mild oak.

This is a sipper, for sure. Quite drinkable, but good to take it slow - enjoy all the flavors in there. We had it post Thanksgiving meal, which was a perfect time for it. It's a great beer to share. Obviously, Tank enjoyed it - but then again, I've never seen her turn her back on a beer before.

From the website:

10% with 90 IBU's.

It is available in several stores, including Whole Foods. Look for it in 12oz and 22oz bottles.

Malt: Pale, Wheat, Crystal, & Peated.
Hop: Magnum, Chinook, Centennial, & Columbus.


Santa's Private Reserve, Rogue Ales, Newport Oregon

Let's keep it on the West Coast for now...The next comes from the well-known Rogue Brewery...Santa's Private Reserve, nice of him to share it with us, let's see how it goes....It is a double-hopped red ale. I'm not always a fan of red ales, but the double-hopped sounds alright to me...

It pours tawny with a big head.

The aroma is hop, fragrant and flowery. Mild sweetness, as well.

The taste is hop forward, but then balanced back in the body with mild malt. It is very lively on the palate - almost a sparkling on the tongue. It is not the flowery hop flavor that is detectable in the aroma, it is more mild and earthy. There is a spicy/peppery finish to it.

The aftertaste is mild hop and bitter. It leaves a clean palate, especially since it is such a sparky body.

It is a good bright winter warmer, easy to drink and easy to pair with a variety of meals on the Holiday menu, especially anything spicy.

From the website: Malts include: Great Western Harrington, Klages, Munich & Hugh Baird Carastan, & Crystal.
Hops include: Chinook & Centennial.
Rogue's Pacman Yeast.

It is available all over in 12oz, 22oz, & draft, of course.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Jolly Roger Christmas Ale, Maritime Brewery, Seattle Washington

Back to Washington State.

It pours a deep amber with a thin head.

The smell is hop and sweet malt. It has a bourbon barrel type essence. Mild brown sugar or maple is detectable.

The taste is balanced malt. It's not sweet - more of a Strong Ale type of beer. A little of that bourbon barrel-ness is there. It has some of that maple/brown sugar flavor evident just behind the body.

The aftertaste reminds me of a barley wine style ale. It is mildly sweet, mildly bitter; aggressive and energizing on the palate -

This is an excellent sipping winter warmer for the coldest of the cold days. I've found it available in 12oz bottles in just a few locations around Portland here - Belmont Station and one or two grocers. A good beer to join a big holiday meal or to sip on the porch for some fresh air after dinner. It gains bold characteristics as it warms.

Cheers! or as the bottle says - Yo Ho Ho.

Shiner Holiday Cheer, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner Texas

Texas? Winter Beer? Wha? That's right. Our next beer comes from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Most of us are familiar with the well-distributed Shiner Bock Beer. This is the first time I've come across Shiner's winter, so I am excited to give it a try - I have a special fondness for Shiner, which I will elaborate on later when I blog their bock beer sometime. For now, Holiday Cheer - it sounds interesting - the bottle mentions it being brewed with Texas peaches adn roasted pecans along with malted barley. Interesting for sure! As my friend Adam is fond of saying "Don't fruit the beer!", which I think is a good rule of thumb, but let's go in with an open mind....

It pours dark brown with a thin head.

The aroma is sweet and peachy. I get a little scared. There is malt, but the peach is most noticeable.

The taste is initially peachy and I'm afraid my fears may be confirmed. However, it isn't too sweet and the initial peach is rounded off by an earthy malt and nuttiness that is evident in the body. The roasty nuttiness makes me think this would be a good warm weather winter warmer - I'm thinking about bbq while I drink it. I think it would go well with some glazed salmon or some other bbq items.

The aftertaste reveals the peach again, it is a little sweet. It leaves a desert aftertaste or something akin to the marshmallow sweet potato dish occasionally prevalent in Holiday meals.

It isn't a bad beer! I kind of like it for it's bold distinction and the reminiscence of bbq/warm weather in these cold days. Definitely not for those of us not interested in fruit in the beer or those who don't like the flavor of peach. But if you are looking for something truly unique this season or for a conversation starter at a holiday party, this'll do the trick for y'all. Like the sweet potato dish, I can't imagine over-indulging. I think the sweetness would be too much after a few of these beers, but worth the try. Plus it has some amazing packaging - so it makes for a nice stocking stuffer for the experimental beer lover in your life.

From their website: 5.4% with 22 IBU's.


10 Below, Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, Everett Washington

Another first for me. I haven't had one of Scuttlebutt's beers before - so let's give it a try...It's an imperial dunkel weiss (Dark Wheat). Sounds good!

It pours opaque with a bubbly head.

The aroma is malt with roasty coffee tones, but still fairly crisp. There is sweetness and slight vanilla at the end.

The taste is malty and wheaty at first. It is very smooth even from the beginning. It has a full body - the sweetness is balanced by the roasty tones and slight coffee notes.

The aftertaste goes quickly leaving a slight roasty flavor.

This is an excellent beer - it demonstrates perfectly the difference between a one dimensional beer and a well balanced beer. Tones are evident without being overwhelming - sweetness doesn't dominate the beer, the flavor blossoms delicately even for a robust beer.

This is an excellent strong winter warmer.

From their website: Hops: Mt. Hood & American Sazz with 22 ibu’s. 7.4%.

I haven't seen their beer too many places. Check for it in 12 oz and 22 oz bottles - I got mine at Belmont Station.


Yellow Snow IPA, Rogue Ales, Newport Oregon

Nothing truly says winter like Yellow Snow. This IPA from Rogue Ales is one of their winter seasonal offerings. This is the first year that I've tried it - I love the idea of an IPA in the dead of winter....

It pours bright yellow with a big foamy head....Of course.

The smell is big earthy hop.

It is all big earthy hop with a slight spice. The bitterness is evident throughout, but it's not over the top or too biting. It is balanced back in the medium body. It has a bitter and hop finish.

The aftertaste is bitter with flowery notes at the very end.

I love IPAs. There isn't a whole lot to say about this one - it's delicious and clean. Not too extreme. It offers a great reprieve from the big malty winter brews that rule the season. Definitely recommended for any hop fan - it is available in fairly wide distribution.

From their website: Two Row Pale, Cara Foam & Melanoiden malts. Hops: Amarillo. Yeast: Rogue's Pacman Yeast. 70 IBU's.

Another fine ale from one of my favorite breweries!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wee Heavy, Hales Ales, Seattle Washington

Our next beer hails from new my old neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Hales offers up their winter brew in the form of the Wee Heavy - sounds good - let's give it a try....

It pours opaque with a thin head.

The aroma is sweet and roasty.

It is malty, but balanced with a medium body. It gets better as it warms toward room temperature. It finishes with a burnt roastiness at the end. It sounds odd, but there seems to be a little dried banana amidst the body. Interesting - not terrible, but interesting.

The aftertaste is mildly sweet with burnt roastiness.

The character isn't overly prominent and I would suggest some other ales if your winter tasting season is on budget or short. It isn't terrible, but at that bar of where ales should start.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Glacier Pilot Winter Warmer, Lang Creek Brewery, Marion Montana

Our next beer arrives from Marion, Montana - I had it last year, but don't remember it too well, so let's refresh....

It pours nearly opaque with a tight head.

The aroma has big notes of vanilla malt, there is sweetness and mild caramel.

In the taste, the vanilla is very aggressive at first, but is fades to sweet malt. Mild roastiness takes over in the body. The sweetness seems to build throughout the beer. There is mild bitterness, but not enough to balance the sweetness.

The aftertaste is roasty malt sweetness with tones of caramel.

This is an interesting winter warmer, but it tends toward the sweet side. If you are a fan of the vanilla/caramel malt beers, this is a decent one to try. I think it makes for a nice desert or stand alone late evening beer. I'm unable to access their website right now for details, but will try again to see if it's online tomorrow -

I found mine at Belmont Station here in Portland. I've seen it at a few stores, so I think their distribution is decent for the Northwest.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Brrr, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland Oregon

So again we're hitting the big boys. Not that Widmer is a huge brewery, but I'm sure most of us out there have heard of their famous Hefeweizen. I blogged on their Snowplow earlier, this is their other seasonal - Brrr. It is the opposite of the milk stout, this one promises a hoppy distinction - let's see how it goes...

It pours a cloudy amber with a thin head.

The smell is festive, hoppy and spicy.

The taste is hoppy and tangy at first. There is an initial slight sweetness, but that gives away to hop bitter rather quickly. It has a slight sourness to it as well, which balances the beer back from the sweetness, as well. It sound strange, but I like that aspect. The sweetness plays out through the beer in the background - a little brown sugar or gingerbready at times. It never gets too sweet and the bitterness is held back as well.

It finishes clean with some hop on the back of the tongue, a little bitterness and then back for another sip!

I very much enjoyed the beer - for fans of Winterfish or Celebration, I think you'll enjoy Brrr. It cuts nicely through the cold night to make a great addition to a holiday meal or beer that holds it's own at any winter beer party.

It is 7.2% with 50 IBU's. The malts used are: Pale, Caramel, Munich, Carapils and Dark Chocolate. Hops: Bittering: Alchemy; Aroma: Simcoe and Cascade.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Full Moon, Blue Moon Brewing Company, Golden Colorado

Our next winter ale comes from the well known Blue Moon Brewing Company. I'm sure we are all well familiar if not with the beer, with the name. They are owned by the Coors company - but let's not let that fog our judgment...yet, anyway.

It pours a dark amber, nearly opaque.

The smell is malt with plenty of sugar.

The taste is sweet, right away it is noticeable. However, the sweetness is quickly balanced by the malt. It has a slight pine taste, which adds to its' holiday-ness. It is an easy drinker. It finishes a bit toward the sweet side.

The aftertaste is slight. It is a little sugary and some slight slight bitterness.

All-in-all a decent winter ale. In a season when there is sudden availability of beers from smaller breweries, it is hard to recommend the larger company's beers, but all in all, this makes a good beer - especially as a six-pack to bring to a holiday party.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vinter Varmer, Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, Portland Oregon

Let's bring it home! The Laurelwood Public House & Brewery has a spot just a hop (sorry, I'm a sucker for bad puns) up the street from us here in Northwest Portland. They have some brilliant brews and from limited experience some very good food. Their beers are available in stores around Portland and from their Public House locations. Those outside of Oregon may find it hard to find.... So let's see how their seasonal holds up....

It pours nearly opaque with a big head.

The smell is all malt with some slight vanilla.

The taste is initially malty. I was worried it might be sweet from the notes of vanilla I detected in the aroma, but it is not overly sweet at all. It retains big notes of vanilla, but the sweetness is capped by the malt, which holds a roastiness throughout the brew. There is slight caramel at the end, but it again isn't enough to overwhelm. The beer holds balanced throughout and has a nice medium/full body that fits into a winter evening quite well.

The aftertaste is a nice roastiness and it finishes with a nice warmth.

This is a great solid non-spicy winter warmer. I highly encourage you to grab one while they are available. In a season overwhelmed by holiday ales, this is a nice classic warmer to enjoy with a hearty meal or by itself...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gingerbread Ale, Bison Brewing Company, San Francisco California

Our next beer comes from Bison Brewing Company and I raved about their Pumpkin ale this year - let's see how their Christmas seasonal holds up....The name Gingerbread Ale deterred me at first, as any idea of flavoring beer is a challenging proposition for me, which rarely proves successful, but my last experience with Bison was so good, let's do it!

It pours opaque with a big head.

The aroma is mild gingerbread, lots of malt. There is mild sweetness. Vague cinnamon is there as well.

The taste is big roasty malt. It is very mild in it's spice. The gingerbread is very very mild - I actually think the pumpkin ale was more gingerbready than this ale. It has a full body, and the malt is very biscuit. The spice is mostly cinnamon, but it's very late on the palate.

The aftertaste is mildly sweet and slightly cookie-ish.

All in all, it is a solid ale. I'm not sure it's as gingerbread-y as I imagined it would be, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a big roasty beer that is a great sipper around the fire.

21 IBU's with 2-Row, Caramel, Chocolate, Roast Barley, and Black malts. I found mine at Belmont Station. I've seen it at a few grocery stores such as Whole Foods.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snowplow Milk Stout, Widmer Brothers, Portland Oregon

Snowplow - one of the Widmer Brothers winter brews....

It pours opaque with a big head.

The smell is all sweet malt.

The taste is creamy, there are coffee tones right away along with big roasty malt. It has a full body, but not much bitterness. It is well-balanced, not really sweet at all. The delicious creamy flavor holds throughout the beer.

The aftertaste is all roasty and coffee.

This is a delicious beer that is sure to help you plow your way through the holidays. It is available in 22oz bottles for a limited time.

It has 28 IBU's and is 5.5%.
Malts: Pale, Caramel, 60L, Wheat, Oats Carapils, Black Roasted Barley with Alchemy Bittering hops and Willamette Aroma hops.

Drink up before it's gone - it is well distributed!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Double Diamond Winter Ale, Dick's Brewing Company, Centralia Washington

Our next offering is from Dick's Brewing Company - The Double Diamond.... Let's hit the slopes...

It pours a deep deep amber with a thin head.

It smells of sweet malt.

The taste is sweet with a slight hop. The bitterness is light. It has a medium body, though it does carry a little strength with it.

The aftertaste is of very slight malt. The palate resets quickly.

For me, it falls into the category of 1-dimensional beers. Like I mentioned in a previous post about the Powder Hound - this doesn't necessarily make for a bad beer. There just isn't the complexity there of other beers, so it is dissected rather quickly. It's an alright beer - but for an adventurous season in beers - there is more exciting combinations to try out there....


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cold Nose Winter Ale, Laughing Dog Brewing, Ponderay Idaho

Another first from a brewery I just discovered from Ponderay, Idaho. The Laughing Dog Brewery offers the Cold Nose for their winter ale. I bought it on a whim at Belmont station - I've yet to find it anywhere else.

It pours opaque with a thick off-white head.

The smell is caramel and malt sweetness. There is also detectable vanilla.

The sweetness of the smell worried me that it might be an over-sweet beer - but that is far from the case. It is smooth and roasty. The malt gives a full body, but there isn't really much sweetness at all. It is slightly nutty. There is also a slight hop bitterness, but it is rounded off by the malt delivering a well-balanced ale. It is a hearty winter warmer.

The aftertaste is roasty - there is a slight sweetness at the very end. It leaves a nice warmth.

This is an EXCELLENT winter warmer and one which I will definitely seek out again. I am looking forward to trying some of Laughing Dog's other brews.

From their website:
Roasted Barley and Carmel malts
Cascade, East Kent Goldings and Tettnanger hops
6.9 % with 66 IBU's

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Ale, Port Townsend Brewing Company, Port Townsend Washington

Our next offering comes from Port Townsend Brewing Company and will be the first of their brews that I have sampled. Let's dig in....

It pours a dark brown.

The smell is a fresh malty sweetness. It has a hoppy freshness that has a strange strawberry-esque aroma.

The taste is malty with a lively bitterness on the tongue. There is a unique yeast flavor at play as well, but very subtle. It has a medium/full body and is very smooth. The strawberry aroma is there in a very mild way. It's less strawberry, more of a general fruit leatherness to it. It's very slight and hard to pin down. For the most part, the beer is fairly well-balanced.

The aftertaste is mild malt, with the bitterness dissipating fairly quickly.

From their website:

Malts: Pale and Crystal
with roasted barley and Belgian aromatic malts


Availability has been fairly limited for me. I found mine in Bellingham, WA at a grocery store. I haven't seen any around Portland yet...


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bifrost Winter Ale, Elysian Brewing Company, Seattle Washington

Our next beer comes from one of my favorite brewpubs to visit - the Elysian Brewery in Seattle. Spectacular beer, great food, it's a great place. If your in Seattle and haven't been - check it up on Capitol Hill. Their winter offering is the Bifrost. It's available in 22 oz bottles throughout the winter. I found mine at Whole Foods, their distribution is fairly wide throughout the US.

It pours bright amber with a good head.

The smell is hop and yeast with some mild malt.

The taste is hop earthiness balanced with a nice malt. It is very very smooth and the bitterness builds. It has some very nice light yeast overtones. There is also mild honey in the body, which is medium to full.

The aftertaste is malty-hop-bitterness. I think this is a great holiday warmer that is well balanced and would go great with a holiday meal.


From their website:

It is 7.5% with 42 IBU's.

Malt: Pale Malt with Munich and Crystal Malts.

Hop: Bittered with Centennial, finished with Amarillo and Styrian Goldings hops.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beer #50! Double Daddy IPA, Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, San Francisco California

BEER #50 !!!!
So we are already to beer 50. It's amazing! I had to celebrate this momentous occasion with a beer from my favorite style - the Imperial IPA. It's one my wife brought home for me, one day and I was excited to try it - it will be my first Speakeasy beer....

It pours a brilliant amber hue.

The aroma is all hop with big citrus and floral smells.

The taste slakes my need for big hop. It is both earthy and citrus. The bitterness is quite apparent.

The aftertaste is flowery hop which lingers with the bitterness. A definite for hop heads like myself. There isn't much too blog about, in that the beer lives up to it's style - There is big hop all around - I think it's delicious!

I've had good luck finding these beers, but am not sure at all how limited their distribution is - mine was from here in Portland at the Food Front in NW. I've seen their beers at several finer grocery stores.

Hops include 4 varieties (unspecified on website) of Pacific Northwest Hops and three additionals.
Pale Malted Barley and German Munich Malts are used along with Speakeasy Ale Yeast.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico California

Our next ale comes from Chico, California from a brewery I'm sure nearly all of us have at least heard of - if not tasted. The Sierra Nevada Pale ale is just about everywhere, but let's take a sip on their holiday offering - the Celebration Ale.

It pours amber with a nice head.

The smell is mostly hop with mild malt. There is also a little honey apparent.

The taste is fresh and hoppy. There is plenty of bitterness there and it lingers through the finish. The malt does a good job balancing the beer, so it isn't overly hoppy. It has a medium to full body. There isn't any apparent spice, but their balance of malt and hop make the beer nice and holiday tasting. I think this is a nice lively beer that would be my #1 pick to take to a holiday party. I believe it would go with a lot of holiday cooking - check their website for great food pairings.

The aftertaste is mostly a subtle hop and bitterness. It finishes on the palate nice and fresh.

It is 6.8% with 62 IBU's. The bittering hops are Chinook. Cascade & Centennial hops are used for finishing. It is dry hopped with Cascade and Centennial. The malts are Two Row Pale and English Caramel. A top-fermenting ale yeast is used.

It is available just about everywhere I've been!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tannen Bomb, Golden Valley Brewery, McMinnville Oregon

Our next beer comes from the Golden Valley Brewery here in Oregon. This is my first beer from this brewery.

It pours a deep brown.

The smell is strong malt with some sweetness.

The taste is very sweet. It is a medium body, lighter than I was expecting from the aroma. It is balanced fairly well with the hop. It is a little bitter.

The aftertaste leaves a little sweetness lingering.

The malt is balanced with Chinook, Liberty and Fuggles Hops. It is dry-hopped with Kent Goldings. The hop blend is strong enough to balance the malt heaviness, but the sweetness seems to dominate the beer's more subtle potential.

It is 8.0% with 50 IBU's.

It is available in 12 oz. bottles - I picked mine up from, of course, Belmont Station. My knowledge in the brewery is limited, so I am not sure what their distribution is like.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Old Jubilation, Avery Brewing, Boulder Colorado

Our next winter ale arrives from Avery Brewing in Colorado. I had this beer last year, I am excited to try it again....

It pours nearly opaque with a decent head. All signs point to this being a classic winter warmer.

The smell is sweet malt with a general holiday spice; fairly clean.

It tastes clean and refreshing. It's malty without the heaviness. It has a medium to full body with a slight bitterness.

The aftertaste is subtle with malt and roastiness.

This is an English Strong Ale style beer with Bullion hops and Two-row Barley, Special Roast, Black, Chocolate, & Victory malts. It is 8.0% with 30 IBU's.

I recommend this beer as a great example of a traditional winter ale. It is available from October to December in six packs all over....


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winter Fish, Fish Tale Brewing Company, Olympia Washington

Our next beer comes from the Fish Tale Brewing Company in Olympia, Washington. The Winter Fish is advertised as their hoppiest beer yet, much to my own happiness!

It pours a cloudy honey color with a thin head.

The aroma is distinctly hop, with a lot of freshness.

The taste is all hop bitter. It has a subtle honey flavor and is very fresh tasting with a full body. It is unique to find such a hoppy beer in the soon-to-be dead of winter - especially as a brewery's winter offering. I embrace it fully. It is a strong beer and guards nicely against the rain on the window. I don't recommend it to those who may not embrace the hop in the way that I do - if you are looking for a malty winter warmer - there are better options, but if you are looking for a hopped up winter drink or want to try something different - or, and this is my usual Christmas gift to some friends and family - looking for a diverse mixed six-pack for that special someone - this is an excellent option.

The aftertaste is bitter hop deliciousness.

Yakima Chinook Hops, Pale Malt, and Honey Malt are used to make this 7.0% ale.

I found my bottle at Belmont Station and around Portland, I've yet to find it anywhere else. I know it Washington, the Winter Fish is a lot more common. I'll be on the look-out and update if I find it anywhere else....


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Santa's Little Helper, Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, Redmond Oregon

Santa's Little Helper Seasonal Ale will be my first Cascade Lakes Brewing Company beer. They are located in Redmond, Oregon. Their Holiday beer is available in early fall. I haven't seen their ales anywhere around Portland, yet - except for the fine Belmont Station, where I found this bottle.

It pours a deep amber with a thin head.

The smell is hoppy freshness with a little malt sweetness.

The taste is hop forward with a nice bitterness that is well balanced with the malt. It is a strong ale, with a medium/full body that goes well with the weather out my window. There is a mild chocolate that plays in after a few sips.

The aftertaste is subtle hop and fresh.

Grains: 2-Row, Crystal, Chocolate, Honey
Hops: Cascade

It has 50 IBU's and is 6.4%


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ebenezer Ale, Bridgport Brewing Company, Portland Oregon

Bridgeport Brewing Company's Holiday offering is the Ebenezer Ale. This is my first year of trying the beer, so let's see what it's about...

It pours a dark eep brown - nearly opaque with a thin head.

The aroma is mostly hoppy freshness with a hint of malt.

It tastes sweet and malty, initially. There is slight bitterness, which breaks through the malt. It finishes light with a subtle citrus. It has a medium body, with a hop finish. The hop plays an interesting roll in the beer - it's good, but stands out a little like the "wacky" character at the holiday party. There is a little bit of brown sugar with it.

The aftertaste is maltiness and it lingers with a general spice.

All- in - all it is a solid Holiday offering. There isn't the overt unique character that is offered up by some of the other Holiday beers, but it holds it's own and has enough to offer those who look for solid winter warmers.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas Ale, Anchor Brewing, San Francisco California

I look forward to this particular beer each year. Last year's offering fell a little flat for me, but I still was happy when I found it at Whole Foods the other day. I cracked it open that night and am happy to file this report....

It pours opaque with a big head.

The smell is malt with pine. Slightly sweet. It took some time to nail it, but I also detect wintergreen in the aroma as well.

The taste is creamy with a pine spiciness to it. It is obviously malty, with roastiness, but it doesn't dominate the palate. The spiciness balances it out nicely.

The aftertaste has a nice roasty flavor with just a hint of the wintergreen.

This is a delicious beer with layers of flavor that unroll from under the malt. Definitely puts me in a holiday mood. I HIGHLY recommend trying the beer out - even if it's a little on the pricey side, it's more than worth it! It'd be a great beer to bring along to a holiday party or even to keep guarded for your own enjoyment. Anchor's beers are available all over, so give it a try!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Powder Hound, Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula Montana

Once in awhile, I get a beer that makes me instantly want to try another of the same - not necessarily because it tastes so good, but because I feel like I'm missing something. 3 years ago, my winter warmer of choice was the Powder Hound from Big Sky Brewing Company. This year, it fell a little lackluster and I will try another next time I go to my local beer store. I think it may have been a fluke, and I'll chime in later with an update - for now, here was my experience...

It pours a deep copper with a tight head.

The smell is very subtle with mild malt and a slight sweetness.

The taste is mostly malt with a medium body. There is a determined sweetness with a slight bitterness. It has a scotch-esque (beer not liquor) taste to it. There is not much depth to it and I will classify it as a 1-dimensional beer.

The aftertaste is sweet and malty.

So it isn't a bad beer, just that amidst winter warmers, it seems to be a little one-dimensional in it's taste. It's maltiness makes for a good cold-weather beer.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Winter Solstice, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville California

Now here is a place I've been wanting to go to for years. I've passed Boonville, California more times than I care to admit on 101 without stopping. One of these days, and it wont be long! For now, I will take my trip via the Anderson Valley beers. So, fasten your seat belts, keep your hands and arms inside and let's go! The Winter Solstice has arrived....

It pours a dark amber with a medium head.

It has a subtle sweetness to the aroma with a general freshness.

The taste is creamy. It is a medium/full body and very silky. It has a roasty malt flavor, but is in no way heavy. The spiciness keeps it a little light on the palate with a graham cracker-esque flavor. It is well-balanced in that neither the malt nor the spice controls the flavor. It has several dimensions to it and definitely evokes the winter season! There is a nice spiciness in the finish.

The aftertaste is a creamy spiciness that lingers nicely.

I love this beer. Though I strive to be objective in my beer tasting, I decided to be a little more subjective in my winter beer tasting - even as much to make a Winter Beer Rating on the side of the blog. This beer takes #1 (so far) and I HIGHLY recommend seeking it out. I found it at the wonderful Belmont Station (beer store) in Southeast Portland, but on the Anderson Valley Brewing website, there is a beer tracker map that allows you to find distributors of their beers. Do it!

It is 6.9% with Caramel and Crystal malts and a "private" spice blend. It should be kept in the refrigerator.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Hibernation Ale, Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver Colorado

We push further into the realm of winter beers....Tonights offering comes from Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver Colorado. It is aged three months and only available November 1st until the 15th of December - so act now!

The beer pours a deep deep amber.

The smell is all roastiness, intense with a slight sweetness.

The taste is full and robust. It is malty and very dry. The bitterness works with the malt nicely - adding a little balance to help it from getting overly thick. It has a biscuity flavor and slight chocolate tones, as well.

The aftertaste leaves a nice roastiness.

This "strong ale" is a great winter warmer. It is 8.1% and available in six-packs. I've seen this beer as far as the East Coast before, so availability shouldn't be too much of a problem. According to the website, this beer will age well, so I am adding it as the first beer on my Beers To Store Away List, I'm going to seek out 1 or a few to put in the beer storage for next year.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jubelale Winter Ale, Deschutes Brewery, Bend Oregon

Well, it's about that time. It's getting dark quick here in Portland, Oregon, the yellow leaves disappearing quick leaving the empty branches to scratch the cold wind. It's crisp, cold, and winter is on the horizon. It's good news for those of you (who, like me) rejoice and take refuge from winter's long dark days in winter ales! They are an exciting and interesting collection, most changing their recipe each year. Now is the time to start cracking them open, so let's do it! Our first winter ale comes from Deschutes Brewery from here in Oregon. According to their website, Jubelale was the first beer they brewed when the brewery opened.

It pours a dark caramel amber with a good creamy head.

The smell is mostly malty, it is also slightly sweet and has a slight "holiday" aroma to it.

The taste is creamy, mostly malty. It is refreshing, but definitely a 'warmer' of a beer. It has a full body and is mildly sweet. There is a noticeable bitterness to it along with a mile "alcohol" flavor.

The aftertaste is sweet with a lingering roastiness.

A great way to crack open the winter season! According to their website, Jubelale is available in 13 Western states in 12 oz bottles. It can be consistently found at most grocery stores around Oregon.

It is 6.7% with 60 IBU's.


Monday, November 3, 2008

The Dissident, Deschutes Brewing, Bend Oregon

From left field comes The Dissident, a Flanders-style sour brown ale. It is brewed with a special yeast strain that is used in European wines (providing an earthy flavor). Then it is allowed to ferment, while being stored in Pinot Noir and Cabernet barrels. During the brewing process, Washington State cherries were added to the mix. Interesting. Let's pour.

It pours a deep brown with a tight head.

The smell is sour, the yeast is there, but so is a fruity aroma. The cherry is mildly evident.

The taste, sour. If you haven't tried a sour ale yet, it is interesting grounds to explore. The cherry appears quickly, but doesn't linger too long. The yeast is there, but it is mostly the sour that dominates the palate. It has a wine-ish body to to it, and it in some ways, the beer has wine characteristics. It is definitely a sipper.

The aftertaste lets the sour linger. It isn't unpleasant by any means. I am a big fan of sour ales, so I enjoy the aftertaste immensely. The cherry adds an interesting dimension and is definitely around in the finish.

The Dissident is available for a short time only - it may already be gone! It is available in 22oz bottles and is 9%. If you find it, buy it. It makes for an interesting beer tasting night, for those of us just getting into beer. It'd be great with a cheese plate.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Route des Epices, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal Canada

Our next beer is the first beer I will blog about from outside the US. It comes from our neighbors from the north. I was able to visit the Brasserie Dieu du Ciel on a trip to Montreal over the summer and it is DEFINITELY one of my favorite breweries/brewpubs I've been to. It is small, with a lot of dark wood - small tables - very European feel to it. They had abundant beers on tap and I was surprised to find their beers back in Boston. A few weeks ago, I was happy to find their beers at my local beer store - Belmont Station. They have some curious ales and the one I will blog today is their rye beer brewed with peppercorns -

It pours a deep amber with an off-white tight head.

It has a malty aroma with a lot of sweetness. It almost has a christmas ale smell - general spiciness.

The taste is malty and the sweetness carries into the taste. It has a full body and the peppercorns are very evident. It's got a burnt peppercorn flavor. It's spicy but not overwhelming. Though the peppercorn flavor is evident, it doesn't dominate the palate.

The aftertaste is peppery and sweet. The peppercorn flavor dissipates fairly quickly leaving a general spiciness in the mouth.

It is 5% and brewed with black and green peppercorns. I've only found Dieu du Ciel beers in the 11.5 oz bottles.

Since I was able to find their beers at Belmont, I am confident that distinguished beer stores out there will either have or be able to get the Dieu du Ciel beers. They are carefully crafted ales that add an interesting twist on great beer. Happy beer hunting!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Imperial Pumking, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood NY

Ah yes, the eerily excellent Imperail Pumking ale!

Pours a brilliant copper.

The smell is spicy - a full aroma. There is brown sugar, caramel and I detect a very dominate oatmeal cookie smell with the slight cinnamon.

It is smooth and velvety - a full body. It is packed with flavor - thick caramel with pumpkin. The brown sugar is there along with that oatmeal cookie flavor. It has a general spice, but doesn't overwhelm the flavor, by any means.

It lingers nicely, leaving a spice flavor in the mouth.

This is a delicious way to end the pumpkin beer season! Southern Tier beers are available all over the East Coast and most recently, I discovered they are available at Bottleworks in Seattle, WA - for those in the area. Excellent beers! I have several more on reserve that we will be tasting soon!

From the bottle: 9%.
Malt: 2-row, caramel (remember from our beer lesson #1 that 2-row are popular in Europe & tend to be more starchy than the 6-row in the US)
Kettle Hops: Magnum
Aroma Hops: Sterling
with pureed pumpkin!

There is also a nice history of Puca (a mystical Celtic creature) which ties into the Halloween spirit - printed on the bottle.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Robust Porter, Smuttynose Brewing Company, Portsmouth New Hampshire

Well, I once again crack open a beer which gives me great excitement and regret at the same time. I know it'll be awhile before I can indulge in a Smuttynose beer again, but alas - I'll relish the ones I have - and this one is their Robust Porter.

It pours opaque with a tight caramel colored head.

The smell is smoky and malty. There are hints of chocolate and a mildly sweet aroma.

It is a thick beer with deep malt. Very robust indeed. There is definitely a smoky taste, as well as chocolate tones that arrive just after the smokiness. It has a very full body - perfect to enjoy as the days grow colder.

The aftertaste is very chocolate - fairly thick and as it lingers, the smokiness is there as well.

As I've mentioned in prior posts, the Smuttynose is a MUST if near New Hampshire - check out the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth!

From their website:
Pale 2-row, Carastan, Dark Crystal, special "b", chocolate malts
Hops: Cascade
5.7 % with 15 IBU's

Also, a little trivia.... From the website, they mention that porter was a favorite among dockworkers and warehousemen - thus the name "porter". I'm curious if this is really how the beer got it's name....


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monk's Uncle Tripel Ale, Pike Brewing Company, Seattle WA

We'll reel it back to the West Coast with Pike Brewing Company's Monk's Uncle. This is a Belgian Tripel Style ale....

It pours a glowing amber, unfiltered with a big foamy head.

The smell is spicy yeast with a mild citrus sweetness.

It is strong and the yeast dominates. It has a pronounced bitterness and is crisp and refreshing but has substantial body to it.

The aftertaste is a citrusy bitterness. It lingers for awhile in the mouth.

I enjoyed this on our sunny streak one afternoon here in Portland. It comes available in the Spring. I found mine at a grocery in Bellingham, WA. Pike's beers are available all over, I encourage you to visit Belmont Station, here in the Portland area.

Pale, Pils, Wheat, and Aromatic malt varieties are used with Nugget and Saaz hops. It is a hefty 9% with 38 IBU's.

I think this is a strong example of the Tripel style and highly recommend it to new comer's of Belgian ale's or those well versed in these beers. Pike is located in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. It is sometimes difficult to get a parking spot near the area, but I recommend checking it out if you find yourself in the area. Perhaps before hitting the Showbox. It's a good place to grab a few good beers with some good friends.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fluxus, Allagash Brewery, Portland ME

As their anniversary release, Allagash comes out with a "Fluxus" beer each year to celebrate. Each year it's different, and this year, I was able to buy a bottle on the day of it's release from their brewery in Portland, Maine. The brewery is located as you are heading out of town and offers a tour and has a small, but well-equipped gift shop. I highly recommend visiting!
This year, the Fluxus is a double white ale.

The Fluxus pours a bright amber with a big head.

It has a mild aroma, mostly yeast and mild spice.

The taste is mostly yeast, but also has a nice brown sugary taste to it as well. It is very very well balanced, though a little on the strong side, which settles nicely with it's crispness. The slight spice is there (from their website, I learned that it's been brewed with grated ginger). It is a little sweet and very refreshing. It has a fairly light body and cleans the palate easily.

The aftertaste is mildly sweet and mildly bitter. As I said, it's very refreshing and a well crafted brew!

I've seen Allagash beers all over this great beer nation, but mostly just their main standards: Dubbel, Tripel, and Grand Cru. These are all great, but their other beers are extremely worth getting your hands on!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bad Juju Double IPA, Fort George Brewery, Astoria Oregon

On a birthday visit to Astoria, Oregon, we discovered the Fort George Brewery and Public House. this is a wonderful place, a must to check out when in Astoria. The beers are plenty and interesting, the food was very good (I had Albacore Fish & Chips with homemade tartar sauce - Excellent!). So let's talk about one of their beers I had while visiting.... The Bad Juju Double IPA. If you've read my blog, you'll know my affinity for Double IPA's, so it's no surprise, I had to order this beer upon spotting it on the menu...

It pours a dark coppery amber with a medium head.

It smells heartily of hops. It smells tart instead of a flowery bouquet, it has a balanced hop aroma.

The taste is strong with hop all over the place. It is full body and malty and a little thick. The bitterness sets in on the back of the tongue.

The aftertaste is bitter and coppery. It lingers for awhile on the palate and destroys your taste buds for any subtle beer after it, which I love the girth!

Their beers are available from to go from the brewery, I don't think they bottle at all, unfortunately!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Farmhouse Saison, Bison Brewing Company, Berkeley CA

I raved in an earlier post about Bison Brewing Company's Pumpkin Ale, and now we will turn our church key to their Saison offering....

It pours a very bright amber with a big foamy head.

The smell is predominately yeast, but there is also a citrus and slight peppery/slight spice aroma.

It is a smooth beer with a medium body and full taste. There is a bit of citrus, but it is mostly yeast with a slight bitterness.

The aftertaste is a lingering yeast and spice. It is quite refreshing and tastes great all on it's own or with a meal.

Bison is an Organic Brewery. This beer contains 24 IBU's and is made with 2-row, carapils, wheat, and munich malts. I found this beer at Whole Foods and several of Bison's beers are available all over the Northwest. I'm not sure how far east they distribute.

Our next Beer Lesson will cover Belgian Ales....


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Double-Wide IPA, Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City MO

First of all, Happy Birthday to me. Second of all, what's with all these coastal breweries we've been trying? I've been saving this next beer for a special occasion, which takes care of point #1. And, since it is a beer I picked up half-way along move from Coast to Coast, it also takes care of point #2. The Double-Wide IPA is from Boulevard Brewing Company's Smokestack Series. Now, although we did stay in Kansas City for a night, I was only able to indulge in one brewery. I picked the closest to our hotel and it happened not to be Boulevard, but 75th Street Brewery (which we greatly enjoyed and I had one of my favorite Hef's there). I did, however, have the foresight to grab a 750 ml of the Double-Wide at a grocery store. Let's crack it open....

It pours a cloudy/hazy dark amber with a big head.

The smell is subtle and mild. It has a slight sweetness to it's hoppy character.

It is creamy tasting. It has a medium to full body. It is very much hoppy, but also there is a kind of malty thickness which rounds it out nicely. It is bitter, but not overly done. It is strong and very dry. This is definitely a sipper! There is slight sweetness to it along with a certain outdoorsy flavor to it. I can't put my finger on it, but almost mild mint or something akin to it in the undertones. It is strangely complex and I like that. It is a bold beer, but it also has it's sensitive side...

The aftertaste is bitter, but that falls off fairly quickly. The hop lingers a little longer. As I said, it has a dryness to it, so it is nice to enjoy for awhile.

I really can't tell you when this beer is available or how widely distributed Boulevard's beers are, but I can tell you that it is worth while to get your hands on one if you happen to see one. It is 8.5 % and available in the 750ml size. It also has some great artwork on the label, which never hurts.

This is a great Birthday beer to enjoy! And enjoy I can as the bottle says "Relax, it's twister proof!" With that, I will settle in for another great year!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finestkind IPA, Smuttynose Brewing Company, Portsmouth New Hampshire

The bold and the beautiful - my name for our next beer, Finestkind IPA from one of my favorite breweries, Smuttynose in Portsmouth, NH. This brewery makes several fine ales and they are available all over the Northeast. I HIGHLY recommend sampling ANY of their beers. I don't think it will be something you'll regret!
Although I try to be impartial about the beers I drink, it is hard to suppress that this is tied for number 1 in my list of IPA's. What's the other one? Another time, another post...

It pours a glowing amber with a big foamy head.

The smell has a full hop aroma. It is flowery, with a slight citrus. There is also a very subtle yeast aroma, as well.

The taste is all big hop flavor. It is quite bold and hop front. There is both a coppery and a flowery flavor to the hops. It isn't overly bitter, but there is bitterness there. For being so hoppy, I feel it still has a smoothness to it. It is crisp and refreshing.

The aftertaste is all hop with bitterness. It is full strong hop.

The Smuttynose website states that this is a beer for Hopheads, and I agree. It slakes my need for the hop! It has 65 IBU's and is unfiltered, so don't be afraid if there is some sediment floating around in your pint. It is dry hopped (hops added late in the brewing process).

If you like hops and have the chance to sample this beer, please do and let me know your thoughts!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Belgian White, Long Trail Brewing Company, Vermont

And now back to the Northeast with Long Trail's Belgian White Ale....

It pours a bright golden with a nice foamy head.

The smell is all citrus and yeast.

The citrus/yeast flavor dominates the flavor. There is also white pepper and a general spiciness to it's character. It has a medium body and is slightly flowery.

The taste lingers on the palate nicely. It is a fresh & crisp beer and is very refreshing.

From their website, I learned that it is made from two-row and wheat malts - see the beer lesson earlier concerning two-row malt. The hops are Nugget. It is 4.7% with 14 IBUs.

The beer is available in 6-packs March through August all around the Northeast.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

20th Anniversary Imperial IPA, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville CA

Well, maybe to celebrate a week away from a landmark day from me (stay tuned, next wednesday will be a special tasting) or maybe to wash down the pizza we had while watching the debate tonight, I decided to tap the Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA - Imperial IPA's are one of my favorite styles, so let's go....

It pours a dark amber with a creamy full head.

The smell is all hop - it has almost a raw hop aroma to it. A hint of that smell you get when you are a few blocks from a brewery. It also has a mild malt smell. It is spicy and flowery, as well.

The taste is bitter (in a good way). It has a medium body and an aggressive hop flavor. There is also some yeast in there, as well. The maltiness does not balance the hop too much, so there is plenty of floral hop flavor to fill the senses. It is not for those who do not enjoy the gift of extreme hop, but if you do or willing to try it out, this is a wonderful example of the Imperial IPA.

The aftertaste is hoppy with a lot of bitterness. It dominates the palate, so beware of what you decide to enjoy along with it.

I found this particular beer at Food Front over here in NW Portland. Anderson Valley beers are available all over, I found them plenty in Boston. I'm not sure how long the 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA will be around, my suggestion is to grab it soon.

Beer Lesson #3

Let's talk hops. An interesting topic, at least for me. Here in the Northwest, our hops are known for their citrus aspects, in England, hops are less acidic with less of the 'citrus' flavor, other areas are know for their flowery varieties or their aromatic aspects. Hops are added to the mash and boiled. Hops can be in pellets, cones, flakes, etc. It is up to the brewer or the brewery to decide on the variety and type of hops used in any particular beer. Boiling the hops results in two things being extracted. The first are resins which will account for a beer's bitterness. The next are oils which release the hop flavor we all know and some (like I) love. Flowery...Citrus...pine...etc. At this point, we can learn about late-hopping or dry-hopping. Simply put, hops are added late in the boiling process (late-hopping) which maintains the beers hop flavor (the hop chemicals evaporate rather quickly) Dry-hopping is when hops are added at the end of the boiling process. All of this will affect the beer's flavor, aroma and bitterness. Bitterness is measured in IBU's (International Bittering Units). A beer like an Imperial IPA will have a high number of IBU's, a lager will have a significant lower amount of IBU's.

Let's drink to that....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Head, Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland ME

So I was indeed excited to see Shipyard beers available here on the West Coast. They are from Portland, Maine and if you are near that area, they have tastings and a great store with a full stock of their beers available. Most of their brews are only available on the East Coast, but I have found Pumpkin Head at several stores around the Northwest. Let's give it a try....

It pours a pale amber color, and on their website, that it is a wheat beer.

The smell is definitely pumpkin pie, with cinnamon and nutmeg are noticeable. It definitely has a fall aroma.

The taste is predominately nutmeg with a little cinnamon. It lingers nicely on the palate. It is a crisp and refreshing beer. It has a light body and is very drinkable. The spice might be a little strong for a newcomer of pumpkin beers, but it settles nicely over the course of the beer.

The aftertaste is all spice, which lingers for a bit.

All-in-all, a great fall beer! Crisp and refreshing!