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.