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Peter LaFrance



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A taste of… Abyss 2008



Deschutes Brewery
Bend, OR
USA

Preface: This sample arrived in good condition, chilled and nestled in Styrofoam “peanuts.” The promotional material included has not been read as of this tasting. The fact is I can’t find it. So based only on my vague memories of their 2007 version, I will begin the tasting of Abyss 2008. (The wax dipped crown cap is romantic but needs special attention when opening. I started with a hop cutting knife from the hop farms of Elk Mountain, Idaho. The crown cap was dispatched with a nifty palm-size brassy Warsteiner promotional bottle opener.)

Appearance: I’ve seen motor oil lighter colored than this. My trusty Maglight at its tightest beam could not penetrate this deep dark brew. The head is the darkest creamiest creation of small to medium sized bubbles that hold their head high for an unusual length of time for a brew that posts a percentage of alcohol by volume at 11%.

Aroma: As soon as this bottle was opened I could smell the rich aroma of roasted grain. Initial impression is surprisingly light with a definite roasted grain impression. A second, deeper exploration of these aromas find under currents of chocolate and leather. That moment between lip and sip finds chocolate whispers.

Mouth feel: There is surprisingly light mouth feel (for an 11% abv brew) at first, and then the flavors kick in the mouth feel increases and crescendos at the flavor crest.

Flavor: Coffee, chocolate, molasses, smoke and tobacco all sing out. Each note is specific and distinct but all are sung in an impressive harmony of flavors that neither shout nor croon.

Finish: This has a surprising smooth finish. No astringency or dusty dryness, rather a semi-dry smoke roasted fading away.

Comments: This is not a World Wrestling Federation style of extreme beer. This is a well brewed high-alcohol brew. As I search for words to describe this brew I let my eyes wander to the label where I find, “The Abyss: Stout brewed with licorice and molasses with 33% aged in oak bourbon barrels.”

Also: “It’s dark. It’s deep. It’s mysterious. This imperial stout has immeasurable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich complex profile. The flavor of this special brew draws you in further and further with each sip. The Abyss beckons. Enjoy the journey.”


The Brewery: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/splash/default.aspx

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/news/1613642

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A taste of… Participation Lager



Magic Hat Brewery and Performing Arts Center
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT 05403
USA

Preface: This bottle has been well cared for despite its age. (It is a pre-election offering by the folks at Magic Hat.) The promotional material for this brew can’t be found so I’ll just take the label information at its word… The neck label “RATE it online at: ODDNOTION.MAGICHAT.net” as well as “HeadCount is a not-for-profit nonpartisan organization devoted to registering live music fans to vote. Register to vote at HEADCOUNT.ORG” The front label states that this is “3/4 pint of beer” and “5% alc./vol.”


Appearance: This is a brilliant light golden brew with lively carbonation and a slight chill-haze. The Head is composed of medium to large bubbles that knit into a semi-rocky head with a smooth almost white color.


Aroma: The first impression is of a faintly sweet refreshing mix of cool (served at 40F) and herbaceous with whispers of clover (yes clover).The second visit revealed a sweet cereal grain tone. The lip-to-sip sensation revealed neither sweet nor floral.


Mouth feel: There is a firm but not full body, enhanced with a creamy carbonation.


Flavor: The refreshing chill of this brew is only momentarily kissed with sweetness before the more powerful herbal push to the front. There is a rather interesting mix of hops used in this brew. Although these flavors dominate, it is, dare I say it, not an unpleasant sensation.


Finish: The final sensation is that of the sharp rather than bitter hop contribution.


Comments: Although this was not the freshest example of this brew the impression is one of a medium bodied lager with a bit more hop esters than is traditional.
(Magic Hat and the word “traditional” are related how?) As the asterisked note on the front label states, this is “A brew to provoke political discussion.”


It would be my beverage of choice with pizza “all the way” (with everything including anchovies).


The Brewery: http://www.magichat.net/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/44215

RateBeer: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/magic-hat-participation-lager-08/91662/7393/

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A taste of… Roxy Rolles Winter Ale '08


Magic Hat Brewery and Performing Arts Center
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT 05403
USA

Preface: The good folks at Magic Hat sent me this bottle of Roxy Rolles Winter Seasonal Ale along with their Braggot. The promotional material that came with these brews was dated 17 October 2008. It has had plenty of time to settle down. And so the tasting notes…

Appearance: Cloudy red-copper color topped with a full head of bubbles of various sizes resulting in a rocky very light sandy tan foam. As the head falls there is a noticeable Belgian lace.

Aroma: First impressions are those of herbaceous notes and roasted grain accents. Second impressions reinforce the grain aromas and the herb accents recede slightly. Finally the lip-to-sip the anticipation of malt sweetness in increased.

Flavor: After the refreshing cool liquid is enjoyed, there are a number of flavors that the hops bring to the front. These flavors are less floral or herbaceous and sharper bitter spikes that vary in intensity. Slight metallic glints sharpen those bitter spikes.

Mouth feel: There is more body to this beer than the aromatics hint at. The color also hints at the fuller feel.

Finish: The finish is not as fleeting as anticipated. The hop tang lingers longest but is not unpleasant.

Comments: This is one of the less emphatic “winter” brews. I would pair this brew with a slate-grey, misty, overcast afternoon spent in a comfortable tavern in Burlington, listening to college kids gripe about grades.

It would also be a beverage of choice with pizza lardo (a crisp crusted pizza topped with pancetta renderings and cracklings), or a cone of deep fried thin julienned of potatoes served with a side of mayo.

The Brewery: http://www.magichat.net/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/33200

RateBeer: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/magic-hat-roxy-rolles/65532/

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A taste of… XX Au Naturale Double Red Ale



Grand Teton Brewing Co.
430 Old Jackson Hole Highway
Victor, ID 83455
USA

Preface: I apologize for the crude bottle adornment. The folks at Grand Teton ship their samples in “barely marked” bottles. This one was shipped 8 October 2008. This sample came with the XX Bitch Creek sample and the good folks at Grand Teton neglected to include a “cheat sheet” on the XX Au Naturale. Ergo I go un-lead into these notes.

Appearance: I would call this a red brew with some orange hints. The head was so short lived I am going to blame the glass this time. What head there was seemed to be knit of medium bubbles that formed a very rocky sandy brown foam.

Aroma: First impressions are of damp whole wheat bread. Closer exploration reveals caramel and rock-candy accents. That moment between lip and sip reveals low levels of vegetal esters.

Flavor: After the refreshing cool sensation of brew served at the best temperature, the flavors begin a series of feints and advances. First is a grainy and caramel flavor base that is swept over by a series of flowery but truly bitter flavors.

Mouth feel: The body is enhanced by the effects of the bitter floral flavors.

Finish: The bitter floral accents disperse gradually. They don’t over-stay their welcome but rather remind the imbiber that there is more where they came from… so drink up!

Comments: Except for the caramel “nose” to this ale, I would imagine that this could be regular “session” ale in places where it can find an available tap. As it is a limited edition this means another reason to enjoy autumn.

I would pair this with rich cold cuts of meat and cured sausages. It also has a fine palette cleansing ability that would make a plate of mixed cheeses a real treat. (Warm bread for real flavor explosions of cheese and beer.)

Original Gravity: 1.052
International Bittering Units: 23
Alcohol content – 4.94% abv

The Brewery: http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com/ourbeers.html

What others say:
BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1394357

Monday, December 1, 2008

A taste of… Braggot Winter Odd Notion 2008



Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT 05403

Preface: Not too many days ago (18 October 2008) I received this sample from the folks at Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center. (Rather a fine full moniker eh?) This time I did peruse the promotional literature and was almost immediately drawn to the word “Braggot:” on the “spec-sheet.”

This style has an ancient tradition and this product has the weight of that history riding on it. And so it begins…

Appearance: This is a fairly lively brew when opened at 50F. The bright amber brew is topped with an almost-white head of hearty, large bodied bubbles that soon relax to a tin but long lasting head sans Belgian lace.

Aroma: Almost immediate “honey” aromatics appear. This is followed by more honey until that moment between lip and sip when more honey invites itself in.

Flavor: This is one hairy brew. The aroma gives away no hint to the flavors. The flavors come crashing through the refreshing liquid with a commando like stealth attack on your nasal passages. There is a sweet, flower-shop rush of sensation followed by a honey-wine flush of flavor that ends with a “Celestial Seasonings” sensation that I determined was Chamomile.

Mouth feel: There is a big feel to this brew that muscles past the relatively light 6% abv.

Finish: The honey and Chamomile linger on but don’t exceed their welcome, departing together.

Comments: As I noted before… this is one hairy brew. It’s not quite a mead and not quite a barley wine. The fairly monochromatic herbal flavor is nicely balanced by the honey flavor. Contrary to usual protocol, I would like to try the next bottle of this brew a bid more chilled than the cellar temperature I served this sample at.

It will take some research to determine what food to pair with this brew.

The Brewery: http://www.magichat.net/

What others say:
BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/45387

ratebeer: http://www.ratebeer.com/ratings/beer/magic-hat-odd-notion---braggot-&40winter-08&41/94638/

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A taste of… Orlio Organic Black Lager


Orlio Brewery
South Burlington, VT
(USA)

Preface: I am going to assume that this is a 2008 version of the Black Lager the folks at ORLIO released last year. This sample recently arrived and has been living in my refrigerator, in the truly chilly dark, for a week or so. Allowed to come to “cellar” temperature the following notes chart the experience…

Appearance: This brew is as deep red as the old Soviet army. The head is a loosely knit fragile structure of good sized bubbles. The color of the head is almost mocha and the Belgian lace is exquisite.

Aroma: As soon as I opened the bottle there was a pleasant grainy aroma present. The second impression found plum and prunes aromas hiding in the chilly space between foam and nose. The moment between lip and sip also sensed the fruity esters in the aroma.

Mouth feel: This is a creamy feel of a high alcohol brew but the effect is attributed to the malt and carbonation.

Flavor: Refreshing liquid surrenders to a very full mouth feel and a rich coffee flavor that shows a great deal of affection toward the sweet, not quite molasses maltose.

Finish: For those of you who know what it is… This is an egg cream with a touch of bitter cherry. (An egg cream has neither egg or cream in it and with the demise of soda shops has become almost extinct.)

Comments: Although this is a rich brew it is not overly aggressive. There is little astringency and more sweetness than a stout. The hop nose and not so subtle presence nods to the esters of ale yeast. Not quite a “session” brew, I would enjoy two or three with a winter supper of crusty bread, hearty meaty stew and a wedge of New England cheddar and an apple.

The Brewery: http://www.orlio.net/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/15997/36369

ratebeer: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/orlio-organic-black-lager/76396/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A taste of… Twin Sisters


Left Hand Brewing Company
Longmont, CO (USA)

Preface: This is a recent arrival. Once again the Left Hand Brewing Company introduces their particular take on a “style.” This time they offer what they call a “Double I.P.A. Ale.” The label tells me that the ingredients include: flaked barley, malted rye, hops and yeast. There is no mention of alcohol content.

A style with a pucker-power reputation like I.P.A. has I wonder how it can be taken another step.

As with most samples, this one has been living in my refrigerator in the dark. On tasting mornings it is let out an hour or so before it is tasted.


Appearance: A bright amber yellow brew is topped with a very rocky head of medium to huge bubbles that form an almost white head.

Aroma: As soon as this pint was pours I could smell the toasted grain aroma I know as toasted malt. The first aromatic impression is a more concentrated aroma of lightly roasted malt. The second take on the aromatics finds a fresh-cut grass aroma behind the sweeter malt. Finally the lip-to-sip sensation starts to give away the secret of the hop and malt balance… alcohol.

Flavor: The first flavors of chilled, but not cold liquid is the alcoholic warmth followed in a rather leisurely manner by an almost dense caramel flavor that is wrapped in some more heavily roasted grains. The impression is more of a wine than a beer. (And where are the hops?!)

Mouth feel: There is a big feel to this brew.

Finish: If this isn’t a barley wine I will have to find another definition for both I.P.A. and Barley Wine.

Comments: I was very sorry I poured a pint of this brew. It should be savored in a grappa glass or a smaller tulip shaped stemware. A bowl of dried apricots and cherries, with almonds and hazelnuts would be a fine way to spend a late evening solving the problems of the world with a couple of friends.

The Brewery: http://www.lefthandbrewing.com/

What others say:
BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/418/30625


ratebeer: N/A

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Taste of… Hop Trip 2008


A “Fresh Hop” Pale Ale
Deschutes Brewery
Bend, OR (USA)

Preface:
This sample was provided by the good folks at Deschutes Brewery. I must admit that this bottle has been well cared for, for a few months I’m sure. However, at 5.5% abv, I doubt there has been any regression of flavors. The effects of “cellaring” ale infused with fresh picked hops will be interesting eh?

As with all brews sampled here, it arrived via parcel post in good condition and has been kept refrigerated until an hour before opening.

Appearance: A red-copper crystal-clear brew is topped with a very rocky head of large bubbles. The almost white foam leans toward linen and quickly dissipates leaving fine Belgian lace.

Aroma: If you have never had the chance to smell the aromas of fresh hops this is as close as you can come without the actual flower in your hand.
The second sensation is laced with strawberry and raspberry esters.
The moment between lip and sip introduces an almost palpable wild flower aroma that becomes the first “hop” flavor.

Mouth feel: A rich, creamy initial impression is reinforced by the carbonation (fairly high) and the hop flavors that are rich, almost savory.

Flavor: The combination of the savory hop mix and the rich grain accents, enhanced with caramel, combine to render not so much a marriage of “sweet” and “bitter” but a synthesis of flavors that are sensed as “rich” with a touch of “happy”.

Finish: The final flavors of savory and caramel linger for just long enough. While not quite a pallet-cleanser, the effect is lusher and less hurried.

Comments: The “cellaring” was, if anything, influential in the mellowing of the fresh hop and rendering that savory sensation. The lingering traces of hop and grain on the pallet would nominate this as a session brew perfect for a chilly evening with good conversation. Some nuts (food not friends) would make a nice escort.

N.B. I have a feeling (haven’t checked) that I have posted notes on this brew in the past…


Deschutes Brewery: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/splash/default.aspx

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/63/26395

RateBeer:
N/A

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Taste of… Terra-Rye’zd



Terra-Rye’zd
Black Rye Lager
Left Hand Brewing Company
Longmont, CO (USA)


Preface:
This sample was provided by the good folks at Left Hand Brewing Company. I will admit that between these folks and the folks at Magic Hat in Vermont I am beginning to think that there is no end to the styles that brewers can come up with. As with all brews sampled here, it arrived via parcel post in good condition and has been kept refrigerated until an hour before opening.

Appearance: This is one deep red colored brew. Not quite opaque, it has a dense color. The head is a lush layer of large and medium-sized bubbles. They knit into lacy foam of deep dessert sand brown.

Aroma: As soon as I poured this brew there was a nutty roasted aroma in the air. The first impression was slightly dulled by a chilly brew. (It was, as you can see, in a large bottle and was not quite at cellar temperature.) The second impression introduced a hint of floral aromas. If you are familiar with the aroma of rye flour you can catch just a hint in that final aromatic reception of flavors that happens just between lips and sip.

Mouth feel: There is a fairly rich feel to this brew. I am not sure if it is the roasted, almost patent malt sensation, or the smooth effervescence. The peppery sensation is the rye at work and it does good work balancing out the other flavors.

Flavor: The first impression is of deep roasted, almost coffee flavors. The second taste reveals a slight sour sensation that blooms into a floral hop flavor. The specific hop is hard to pinpoint with all that is going on in the grain flavors.

Finish: There is a pallet cleansing quality about this brew that, for all its rich malt flavors, gives a reason to congratulate the brewer on the choices of hops.

Comments: This particular brew, if you can still find it, would do well as a beverage of choice with a seared shell-steak, creamed spinach and hash-brown potatoes.

As noted at the beginning, these folks constantly amaze me. There range of beers is both amusing and entertaining. I’m never quite sure what I’m getting, but it will be interesting.

Left Hand Brewing Company: http://www.lefthandbrewing.com/

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/418/45345

RateBeer:
N/A



From the brewer:

Left Hand Brewing & Terrapin Beer Co., Terrorize Each Other

(Longmont, CO) – In today’s day and age with everyone trying like hell to kill one another, two craft brewers with different philosophies and from opposite sides of the country are actually putting aside their differences to, wait… yes, work together. No flashy mergers or hostile international takeovers, just two craft brewers interested in taking over your palate with unusual beers.

Left Hand Brewing Company from Longmont, Colorado and Terrapin Beer Company from Athens, Georgia, are collaborating on a series of one-time releases each year, calling the coalition the Midnight Project. The first release is Terra-rye’zd, and Imperial Roggen Schwartz Lager, with very limited availability – only six states will carry the brew.

“The entire “Manhattan Project” was born late one night” says Chris Lennert, VP of Operations for Left Hand. “We had finished a successful beer dinner in Athens together, as well as a beer festival in Decatur, and were having a few pints at the Brickstore Pub to celebrate when the idea started to take shape.”

“We’ve been friends with Left Hand for years, says Dustin Watts, Director of Sales & Marketing for Terrapin, “and really just thought about doing a beer dinner together out in Colorado during the Great American Beer Festival later this year (Saturday, October 11th at the Kitchen in Boulder). Then, somehow, it turned into making a beer together.”

After several months of back-and-forth recipe concoction and name brainstorming, Terra-rye’zd was finally brewed at Left Hand Brewing Company. Terrapin’s Head Brewer, Spike Buckowski, flew to Colorado in late July to brew the black rye lager with Left Hand’s VP of Brewing Operations Joe Schiraldi and Head Brewer Ro Guenzel. “I think Terra-rye’zd is a pretty incredible, interesting beer,” said Ro, “but the prospect of ever having to brew it again is terrifying!” The brew literally terrorized Left Hand’s new 60-bbl brewhouse, or as Ro claims “anyone who has ever brewed with close to 50% rye malt can understand the terror.”

Spike couldn’t agree more. “The Terra-rye’zd experience was one of pure terror. Not only in brewing it, but the madness of travel added to it.” He started his day brewing in Athens, got on a late flight that night to Denver had a few hours sleep, and started brewing early the next day all day. Then it was back to Georgia early the next morning after another full day of brewing. “All in all, it was definitely worth it. Great travels, great times and definitely a great beer.”

“Terra-rye’zd is a beguiling black rye lager that will hold you hostage with its complex flavor, and make you want to ransom off your neighbor’s children for another bottle. The spice derived from the judicious amount of rye malt will bombard your palate. Don’t turn your back on the hops, which we took all the way to level orange. After the assault the flavors will disappear until they rear up again with each sip.

Medium-bodied, with 6.6% alcohol by volume with 37 IBU’s, Terra-rye’zd will be available in 22 oz. bombers and 1/2bbl kegs starting in early October. It will only be available in the Southeast states where both breweries have a presence (Tennessee (Nashville only), North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida (Tampa/Fort Myers only)) and Colorado.

For more information:

Chris Lennert
Left Hand Brewing Company
chris@lefthandbrewing.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Taste… of Zoetzuur Flemish Ale


DeProefbrouwerij
Lochristi, Belgium



Preface:
This one has been sitting in the fridge for over six months, perhaps a year, and it’s time has come. The brewery is attempting to recreate traditional style brews in a state of the art brewery. To their efforts the following notes will offer impressions of their beer, well cellared.

Appearance: This is a red garnet crystal clear beverage topped with a linen brown, closely knit head of very small bubbles.

Aroma: The first sensation was of fairly sharp sour grape. The second impression reveals the herbaceous undercurrents of citric orange and Clementine.

Mouth feel: The initial mouth feel is pleasantly effervescent, for such a well toned finish. There is no “flab” to this brew.

Flavor: The vinous flavors of sour cherries and grapefruit erupt in a foretaste that slides into a sour tang, ebbing to a recognizable bitter cherry ending

Finish: The sour cherry flavors, accented with citric spikes are not easily forgotten.

Comments: As noted at the beginning of this posting, this brew has had time to rest. At 7% abv it is definitely not the beer I received from these good folks. Lacking notes on the fresh version of this product, the opportunity for comparison has been lost. That said, the resulting rest has rendered a brew that is a perfect match with soft to runny cheeses.



DeProefbrouwerij: http://www.proefbrouwerij.com/

bvba Andelot
Doornzelestraat 20
9080 Lochristi-Hijfte
tel. 00/32/9.356.71.02
fax 00/32/9.356.71.03
info@proefbrouwerij.com

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/3521/20750

RateBeer:
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Taste of Jubelale 2008


Jubelale 2008
Deschutes Brewery
Bend, OR (USA)

Preface:
This bottle has been languishing in my refrigerator almost too long. The emphasis is on almost.
And so I apologize to the good folks at the Deschutes Brewery, in Bend, OR, for not posting this earlier.

Appearance: This almost red brew also has a hint of amber to accent the clear, moderately effervescent beverage. The head was copious and took its time settling down to a fragile desert-tan rocky head of large bubbles.

Aroma: The initial aromatic sensation is of nutty caramel, followed by some citric aromas similar to orange marmalade. Finally there is a dusting of dried hay.

Mouth feel: This is a very “creamy” brew. There is a pronounced, but not evident effervescence that has a surprisingly rich hop flavor behind it. That is to say that this is a savory, rather than bitter flavor that builds. This savory reaction adds to the mouth feel of this brew.

Flavor: The impression between lip and sip is one of that savory sensation of this hop mixture. This prelude is followed by a spike of sweet grain almost immediately squelched by a rush of that savory hop flavor that delivers a fresh herbal flourish that leaves the malt to fight for recognition.

Finish: The particularly fresh sensation of the hop flavors finally recede and in the end leave a lingering lushness on the flavor receptors. A last trace of sweet malt keeps it from becoming astringent.

Comments: I tasted this brew unprompted. That is to say that Deschutes Brewery sent me this product to include in my tasting notes section of BeerBasics.com

Until I find the promotional material that came with this bottle and I am proven totally off the mark, I offer the following observations on this brew.

It will please the hop-heads and still give the rest of us a brew to sip and appreciate. This is not a session beer in my opinion. If pressed by my wine friends (pun intended) I would pass this off as a burgundy-style beverage to be enjoyed with a rib roast or braised beef ribs.


Deschutes Brewery site: http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/splash/default.aspx

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/63/2178

RateBeer:
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Taste of… Left Hand Oktoberfest Marzen Lager


Left Hand Brewing Company
Longmont, CO (USA)

Preface:
This morning I’m going to crack open a bottle of Left Hand Oktoberfest Mazen Lager. The label on the bottle says that it was bottles on August 30. It also notes that it is 6% alcohol by volume. Therefore I believe it was done little harm resting for a bit in my refrigerator.

Appearance: The color of this beer is very reminiscent of the beers that I tasted of Oktoberfest in 1988. It is a deep red copper colored brew, almost orange. The head is composed of rather loosely knit large bubbles that form a very rocky surface. However, it appears to be a very effervescent beer.

Aroma: The very first impression is a combination of caramel candy and lush green meadow grass. The second impression is similar to that of condensed malt syrup. There is very little hop influence. The third impression brings the return of some herbal aroma hiding behind the rich malt impression. Moment between lip and sip reveals a favor of neither flavor.

Mouth feel: There is a medium mouth feel that is enhanced by a rather effervescent carbonation. There is a hint in the flavor that this might be a fairly alcoholic beer.

Flavor: The first impression is almost a citric snap followed by the rich roasted flavors of the malt. The second sip echoes the flavors of the first, however, on aspiration, there remains a non-grapefruit citric sensation. This spike of flavor is not unpleasant. However, it is not quite to style for Oktoberfest beer.

Finish: From the beginning of the finish all away through to the end there is an almost metallic flavor that sticks to the roof of the mouth. This flavor seems to be the result of the combination of hops used in this beer. It is palate cleansing without being astringent.

Comments: In 1988 I had the opportunity to visit Munich for Oktoberfest. I’m glad to say that I had the chance to taste all six of the Oktoberfest beers that were served there. Each had a characteristic that made it unique however; all of them were of a similar style.
As I remember it, and it was a bit of the haze, these beers were amber in color, rather light in alcohol content, and left a sweet finish on the palate.

I have seen information posted that the style is changing in Munich. There is information available to say that this beer has become much more blonde, and higher in alcohol content. I look forward to trying to 2009 version!


Left Hand Brewing Company: http://www.lefthandbrewing.com/

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/418/32410

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Taste of… XX Bitch Creek Double ESB


A Taste of… XX Bitch Creek Double ESB
Grand Teton Brewing Company
Victor, ID (USA)


Preface:
Last week I received this sample bottle of Grand Teton Brewing Company XX Bitch Creek Double ESB. It arrived well packaged and was refrigerated as soon as it was unwrapped.

The promotional material that came with the beer informed me that “Twenty years ago Charlie Otto began making beer in Wyoming’s first modern brewery, a 210 square foot cabin in Jackson Hole. Since then, Grand Teton Brewing Company has grown into its present 11,000 square foot facility in Victor, Idaho…”

Regarding this particular brew… “Bitch Creek ESB was first brewed in 2003… “We took the Bitch Creek recipe and doubled everything: double the malt, double the hops, twice the flavor. This is a huge beer at 7.5% abv, which should be paired with only the most flavorful of foods.”

Appearance:

This brew is a deep cherry red, almost Garnet, colored brew. There is a slight bit of chill haze but it is almost impossible to perceive unless you shine a light through this beer. The head is a rocky light tan frothy foam-like construction. There are a lot of large bubbles rather than fine small bubbles. When pouring the beer the Belgian lace is immediately evident.

Aroma:
The first aromatic impression is of rich caramel malt this is followed up by a prominent hop presence and finally, that moment between lip and sip reveals a continuation of intense hop sensation.

Mouth feel:

The initial mouth feel is relatively light for such an intense beer. There is no sweet cloying sensation, rather a distraction created by what I perceive to be well roasted malt, kicked along by a very intense hop sensation resembling newly mowed hay.

Flavor:
The initial impression of intensely roasted malt intensifies as the flavor profile develops. There is quite a contest between the intense flavors of the malt in the intense fresh just picked flavors of the hops. At the very end there is a light almost molasses like flavor that lingers on the palate.
Again, there is remarkably little cloying sweetness to this beer. As this brew gets warmer, naturally there is an increase in the different levels of flavor perceived. A slightly phenol taste remains in the background while the intensity of the roasted malt remains on the front.


Finish:

The flavors of this brew are very powerful. Once this beer reaches cellar temperature they are easier to discern. Served chilled, they are easy to miss.

Comments:

I have no idea what the original pitch Creek double ESB tasted like, this double ESB however is certainly an exercise in extreme beer. Although the alcohol content doesn’t up production saw the hire alcohol beers, the intensity of flavors certainly makes us a beer that would go well with food. Drinking it unescorted, would add to the challenge of finishing a 33 ounce bottle of this brew.

Grand Teton Brewing Company: http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com/

What others Say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/news/1588699

RateBeer:
N/A as of 11/05/2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

HOW TO ORDER A BEER IN 47 LANGUAGES

Salutations,

The following link just might be the most important link on the www:

http://www.esperanto-usa.org/?q=node/82

Print this page and take it with you and you should never be without a beer of one sort or another.

Cheers!

Peter LaFrance

http://www.beerbasics.com/

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A taste of... Porter at the Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig

314 West 11th Street

New York, NY

(Originally posted… Tuesday, June 7, 2007 with editorial revisions July 2, 2008.)

This is not a large establishment. It does have large plate glass windows which let in a lot of light. In that quiet time, between services, it's a pleasant place to have a beer and a snack. There are hardly any people at the tables or at the bar. Chefs, line cooks and staff shuttled between the kitchen, the staff-stations and the cellar. The cooks could be identified by the knife bags slung over their shoulders. Food that had been prepped for the evening was being carried down to the cold box. The bartender sliced the lemons and limes and got the fruit juices ready for evening service.

There were a number of beers by the bottles served. There were also two cask conditioned beers on hand-pumps; one was ale and one was a porter. Being that it was a warm day I chose the porter.

The “Bar Menu” was simple and offered traditional flavor combinations. The hard boiled quails eggs with stout were smooth and luscious.

The oysters were fresh enough to react to a drop of fresh lemon juice. The porter was an ideal counterpoint to the plump mollusks in their briny essence.

The elegant, though small portions of cheese were served at proper temperature. It was served with a side serving of warm toasted fruit/whole-wheat bread, stacked to keep the bottom pieces warm. The warm toasted bread affected the taste impression of the cheese by warming it further, adding texture and fruit sweet flavor to contrast lactic sour tart flavors of the cheeses.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A taste of... Federal Jacks

“She’s over on the other side… Want to leave a message?”

“Here’s my card. Just tell her I stopped in. I’ll be back… Thanks.”

The bartender slid my business card into the ledge of the cash register along with a number of others and returned to stacking pint glasses on a shelf beneath the bar.

The remnants of my “flight” of tasting glasses sat where I left them, on the laminated beer-menu that briefly explained each of the seven beers brewed there. A selection of two or three ounce samples of the pubs brews not only allows the customer to feel like they can make an informed decision about which beer to order a full pint of, it also puts the house beers in context. In many cases just one sip of a particular beer might not be enough to appreciate all its nuances. When tasted in context with darker or lighter brews the nuances become more noticeable and picking a favored brew is easier. In this case I was more than familiar with the Ringwood yeast flavor profile common to all the Federal Jack’s brews because Alan Pugsley was once the brewer at a small brewpub in lower Manhattan. Ah, those were the days! Manhattan once had six brewpubs to choose from. That is no longer the case. Today, not even a six-pack. But I digress…

The main reason I found myself sipping a flight of samples at Federal Jack’s was because a college classmate of mine contacted me about getting together when he visited family in Kennebunk, Maine. It was determined that the ideal place to meet was Federal Jack’s, for two reasons. The first was because I have had the pleasure of working with the general manager on an article about romantic brewpub events. (No… Not me and her… folks who visited the brewpubs.) The second was because we could coordinate my five hour drive from Brooklyn and his plane trip from Texas and rendezvous at 1900 on a Friday evening.

My preferred method of visiting a brewpub is to sit at the bar, preferably, and sample one or two pints with one or two bar-snacks, an initial reconnaissance. On my return there are interviews to be arranged with the usual suspects… manager, brewer and chef. This, however, was not a traditional visit to a brewpub. This was a sentimental journey so my persona as journalist took some time off. Nevertheless the following notes and photographs give a general Idea of a taste of Federal Jack’s

It’s not a small place…

Federal Jack’s Beer Menu

Menu text and “My notes”:

The ales you are enjoying are the creations of Alan Pugsley, Brewmaster of the Kennebunkport Brewing Company (KBC) and Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, ME. Alan is an experienced British Master Brewer and brewpub consultant who has designed breweries and formulated beers for over 90 microbreweries and brewpubs throughout Britain, the United States, Europe and Asia.

The Shipyard English-Style ales require time honored traditional brewing methods. The hops for the beer comes from the Pacific Northwest; the barley and yeast from England; the spring water from the lakes and rivers of Maine.

It takes eight hours to brew a batch of our ales and eight days before the beer is ready to be served in our brewpub. Try the sampler and find just the right style & enjoy!

Goat Island Light: A very light, low alcohol beer with its own distinctive, light flavor. (It is) Named after the Goat Island Light House in Cape Porpoise, ME. 3.8% ABV

My notes: Yes, it is a light beer… with a slight metallic after-taste.

The Shipyard Export Ale: Full bodied, yet lighter in flavor. A great malty balance followed by a subtle hop taste. Styled after the Canadian ale of old. 5.13% AVB

My notes: Light it is, with a slight phenol presence in the nose.

Taint Town Pale Ale: Classic style of a British Bitter. (This brew has a) Clean, crisp and aromatic with a subtle balance between malt and hops – a local favorite. 4.75% ABV

My notes: A pleasant light beer with a light hop flavor and crisp finish.

Brown Ale: Just like Maine’s moose, this ale is brown and beautiful. A much more pronounced malty flavor with just the right amount of hops for flavor. 3.88%ABV

My notes: Very similar to the Taint Town with a sweeter, less dry finish.

Old Thumper: 1985 British Grand Champion Beer, Old Thumper is a non-traditional English Bitter now brewed by KBC and the Shipyard Brewing Company. 5.75% ABV

My notes: A brown ale with fruit esters in front and at the finish.

Fuggles IPA: Feeling hoppy? Fuggles is a single-hopped ale that satisfies many an India Pale Ale enthusiast. A wonderful balance and deceptively smooth. 5.75% ABV

My notes: This brown ale has a noticeable citric flavor that I associate with Cascade hops.

Blue Fin Stout: This is the classic Irish stout. Full bodied, yet soft, and spectacular in appearance with it’s black body and creamy head. A wonderful stout. 4.88% ABV

My notes: Stout? It seems to be more of a Porter with a long lusty, slightly astringent dry finish.

Below: The proper use for the Federal Jack’s beer menu.

Just a glimpse into the brewery.

Important information:

As I noted previously, this was not a proper investigative report. It was a sentimental journey and a chance to just enjoy good beer and lobster, mussels, clams, the view of the boats, the fresh air and the opportunity to swap lies and swat flies and have some fun.

I will note that I had a very good brown ale with my "Lobster Feast"... Solstice Ale. It was a brown ale but had a less aggressive hop presence together with a less emphatic sweet malt flavor. All the flavors were in the right place and the balance was the key to making it a great pair with the rich lobster.

Also of note is the distinct "Ringwood" (yeast) house flavor that is either appreciated or not. I appreciate it.

Mission accomplished… for real.

Cheers!

Peter LaFrance

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A taste of… Gulden Draak

Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Lindenlaan 25
Ertvelde 9940
Belgium

Preface: This sample, sent by the good folks at Global Beer Company, has been living in my refrigerator for at least three months. Well kept, I am interested to see how the long big chill affected this 10.5% ABV brew. Without promotional material I again sail into uncharted waters…

Appearance: This is a very lively brew when opened at 50F. It took two stages to pour this pint. This is a deep brown amber, incredibly effervescent brew topped with a sandy brown head of glistening large, larger and tiny bubbles that hold together until they recede down the sides of the glass leaving a fine lace.

Aroma: Initially there is a deep roasted malt, almost caramel aroma, followed by oak accents and crystal sugar candy touches. Finally the lip-to-sip anticipation is sharpened by an alcohol warmth that starts before the brew is in the mouth.
Flavor: This is a stereotypical example of Belgian triple style ale. It resembles sherry wine in flavor but is carbonated rather than still. All of the tawny sherry notes are there with some oak accents.

Mouth feel: There is a big feel to this brew. (Again, at 10.5% ABV this is no surprise.)
Finish: A stereotypical vinous finish leaves no surprises.
Comments: There were no surprises here! This brew poured, had the proper-to-style aroma and flavor. All of this, after possibly more than six months in a refrigerator. Then again, it might have been improved.

The Brewery: http://www.vansteenberge.com/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/48/155

ratebeer:
http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=86652

Monday, June 23, 2008

A taste of… Odd Notion Summer 08



Magic Hat Brewing Company

South Burlington, VT

USA



Preface: This sample, sent by the good folks at the Magic Hat Brewing Company, has been living in my refrigerator for a week or two, at least. On a rather close, almost humid morning I shall let it show me it’s stuff. Without promotional material to tell me what this is I sail into uncharted waters…

Appearance: What a surprise! This is a deep amber, almost garnet red brew topped with a light tan sandy rocky head knot of medium and large bubbles that lace nicely on the sides of the glass.

Aroma: The first aroma was of roasted malt bullied by an odd hop aroma, the second trip to the well evoked prune and plum undercurrents (yes them too) until finally the overall impression I am left with is the threat of kilned malt and weird hopping.


Flavor: (Yes it belongs above “Mouth Feel”.) Between sip and lip the prune flavors intensified. There is a spike, or tang, that is neither hop nor malt. What malt there is waits until past the finish to step up and even then gets slapped down by lingering hop presence.


Mouth feel: There is a rather thin feel to this brew that ignores the anticipations evoked by the dark color.


Finish: There is a real rush to the finish and it does linger a while in the style of a new acquaintance who you just found out is an insurance agent and is hanging around fervently hoping he/she can find an excuse to give you his/her business card. Not unpleasant but somehow not comfortable.


Comments: I really hope I find out that this is some kind of wheat beer flavored with flowers of the Tibetan Bitter Thorn or some such rare treat. Wrapping my mind around this brew was not easy. I will report later!


What others say:


Friday, June 20, 2008

A taste of… Samuel Adams Boston Ale



Boston Beer Company
Boston, MA, Latrobe, PA, Cincinnati, OH
USA

Preface: This is the last of a series I call “Deli Beers.” These are bottled beers procured from what is called a “deli” (short for delicatessen – a food store that specializes in sliced meats, cheeses, bread and some dairy products, processed and canned foods.). The voyage from brewery to the consumer in a Deli is long, torturous, and not good for man, beer or beast. If a bottle of beer can survive that trial it deserves to be tasted. This last victim of my tasting notes is Samuel Adams Boston Ale. (N.B. This 12 oz. bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Ale was a gift from my friend Boon.)

Appearance: This amber copper, brilliant, mildly effervescent brew is topped with a luscious café au lait rocky head of well knit bubbled that recedes to a proper “lace.”

Aroma: First impression is of biscuit toasted malt, followed by caramel and finally, between lip and sip, a herbal green accent.

Mouth feel: A medium mouth feel is bolstered by a malt sweetness that develops almost to a toffee before it…

Flavor: is met by an almost rowdy hop presence that leaves the malt in the dust until the very end of the finish when…

Finish: the two of them come together and dance off into memory. They are remembered fondly but the entire experience is rich enough that I will endorse their glass design. (The folks at Boston Beer sent me the glass and Jim Koch explained the rather particular aspects of the design at David Burk’s restaurant.)

Comments: I suggest that this brew find its way on the tables laden with slow-and-low barbecue as well as grilled seafood. The marriage of smoke/char flavor and malty brew is pleasant and long lasting.

I also grant that the glass design allows for a sure and controlled pour from a bottle. It is also helpful in catching the aromas in the tulip shaped bowl and the “gathered” top shows off the head and lace to their best advantage.

The Brewery: http://www.samueladams.com/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/1193/

ratebeer:
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/samuel-adams-boston-ale/159/

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A taste of… Bass Pale Ale


InBev UK Ltd.

Luton LU1 3LS

UK

Preface: This is the third of a series I call “Deli Beers.” These are bottled beers procured from what is called a “deli” (short for delicatessen – a food store that specializes in sliced meats, cheeses, bread and some dairy products, processed and canned foods.). The voyage from brewery to the consumer in a Deli is long, torturous, and not good for man, beer or beast. If a bottle of beer can survive that trial it deserves to be tasted. The third victim of my tasting notes is Bass Pale Ale. (N.B. A 12 oz. bottle of Bass Pale Ale cost me $2.10(US).

Appearance: A burnished deep copper colored moderately carbonated brew is topped with a lightly packed light tan head of medium to large bubbles. The head forms more of a foam than a traditional “lace” as it recedes.

Aroma: The first impression is a metallic tang, followed by a dusty herbaceous accent that finally picks up a touch of toffee.

Mouth feel: This is a fairly full medium body that carries the sensations after they are slaked and chilled. Chilled, and wet, the flavors are almost a pleasant surprise.

Flavor: There is a blend of apple, pear, plum and fresh grape juice all ensconced on a base note of caramel that is overtaken by that metallic clang that started in the aroma.

Finish: For all of the efforts of the malt and the slightly edgy hop flavor spike, the finish is smooth and not all unpleasant. From a surely abused bottle it is in fine shape.

Comments: Once again I must applaud a mega-brewer for pumping out a beer than can survive the brewery to Deli. This is not to say I suspect that there is more than just malt, hops, water and yeast in this product. That said, I really don’t care what they put in this brew. As familiar as I am with the draft version to this product I must note that it remains a touchstone for the style.

The Brewery: http://www.bass.com/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/293/811/

ratebeer:
http://www.ratebeer.com/Beer/bass-pale-ale/133/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A taste of… Miller Genuine Draft


Miller Brewing Co.

Milwaukee, WI

USA

Preface: This is the second of a series I call “Deli Beers.” These are bottled beers procured from what is called a “deli” (short for delicatessen – a food store that specializes in sliced meats, cheeses, bread and some dairy products, processed and canned foods.). The voyage from brewery to the consumer in a Deli is long, torturous, and not good for man, beer or beast. If a bottle of beer can survive that trial it deserves to be tasted. The second victim of my tasting notes is Miller Genuine Draft. (N.B. A 12 oz. bottle of Miller Genuine Draft cost me $1.10(US) the same as Budweiser.

Appearance: A brilliant light gold color topped with a thin head of quickly dissipating bubbles that leave not so much a “lace” as foam.

Aroma: First impression was of grain and cereal accents (perhaps a hint of corn), second impression does nothing to change the initial impression. The impression between lip and sip is neutral.

Mouth feel: This is a wet, cool liquid brew with little mouth impression. (It is a flavored carbonated refreshment.).

Flavor: As noted above, this is a cool experience of refreshing beverage..

Finish: The balance of malt and hop develops from a trace to less than a memory.

Comments: I applaud this beer for surviving the trip from brewery to Deli. I mean this, it is in a clear glass bottle and the chance of going “skunky” was not evident. For that they get an “A” for effort. They have huge nerve shipping in clear glass.

The Brewery: http://www.mgd.com/av.action

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/105/2280

ratebeer:

http://www.ratebeer.com/Beer/miller-genuine-draft-(mgd)/405/

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A taste of … Budweiser



Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co.

St. Louis, MO

USA

Preface: This is the first of a series I call “Deli Beers.” These are bottled beers procured from what is called a “deli” (short for delicatessen – a food store that specializes in sliced meats, cheeses, bread and some dairy products, processed and canned foods.). The voyage from brewery to the consumer in a Deli is long, torturous, and not good for man, beer or beast. If a bottle of beer can survive that trial it deserves to be tasted. Which beer was to be first on my list? Why the most abused beer in the world… N.B. A 12 oz. bottle of Budweiser cost me $1.10(US).

Appearance: A very effervescent brilliant gold brew is topped with a snow white head of medium to small bubbles. The head falls relatively slowly leaving the lace to also slip down the sides of a beer-clean glass.

Aroma: The first impression is of fresh hay, the second impression evokes over ripe apples and the final notes are a mixture of both.

Mouth feel: This is a relatively light bodied brew that needs the relatively high carbonation to announce itself.

Flavor: There is little flavor or aromatic impression between lip and first sip. The flavors take a bit of time to develop from initial impression of simply wet refreshment to perceptible flavors. First is a slight apple flavor followed by a slight grainy note that is rushed over by a whiff/trace of bubblegum (Bazooka) that looses out to a metallic hop tang that escapes back into the initial impression of wet refreshment.

Finish: There is little to remind you that you have just had a sip/swallow/swig/chug of beer.

Comments: I have always been in awe of brewers who can take such a wide variety of malts and hops and balance them all into a beer that takes no intelligence to enjoy. Budweiser delivers on all the marketing points used to sell it. This is a true “no-brainer” beer. It is very refreshing, demands no attention other than just refreshing sensations. When I don’t what to have to think about what I am drinking this is the beer to enjoy.

The Brewery: http://www.budweiser.com/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/29/65

ratebeer:

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/budweiser/473/

Monday, June 16, 2008

A taste of... Chamberlain Pale Ale


ORIGINALLY POSTED 02 JULY 2007


Shipyard Brewing Company

Portland, ME

USA

Appearance: This is a dark copper colored brew, not quite red. A light tan, frothy, large bubble, yet firm head sits atop this brew.

Aroma: There is a great deal of hop character to the initial aroma. However, there is a roasted malt, almost a bread aroma that follows through. Finally, in the end, the floral notes of the hops dominate.

Mouth feel: As this is a bottled beer, the carbonation is a little high, resulting in a small acidic bite. Nevertheless, the mouth feel is of a creamy smooth beverage.

Flavor: The flavor of hops dominates this beer all the way through to the end. My impression is that this beer is rather high in international bittering units, higher than even than initial and final impressions. The undercurrent of malt flavors are what keep the hops from becoming overpowering.

Finish: The hop accents in the finish of this beer are not overpowering. The finish leaves off without an astringent sensation. In fact, it is quite a refreshing beer for such a high hop content.

Comments: After tasting this pale ale, I am even more interested in revisiting the rest of the Shipyard products. For two reasons; first to compare Chamberlain Pale Ale to their other products, second; to become more familiar with the beers brewed in Maine. I did note, when I opened this bottle that it is a twist-off cap. For some reason I found that unusual.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mirror Pond Pale Ale (Deschutes Brewery)




Appearance: this is a burnt orange, slightly hazy, very effervescent brew. The head is a sparkling rocky light tan that breaks down fairly easily, but remains very rocky. Not a terribly tight head to this beer.

Aroma: The aroma starts off sweet and malty and is then met by a very fresh and floral cascade aroma that is easy to identify. Hidden in the background there is a slight tutti-frutti type of aroma.

Mouth Feel: But this beer has a very full mouth feel to it and the effervescence adds a creamy texture.

Flavor: The first sensation of flavor is of the malt, well roasted, rather toasty. When the hops arrive, they are underwhelming, and I can not find the characteristic grapefruit flavor of cascade hop.

Finish: The finish to this ale is very quick. There is a lingering hop essence that is neither bitter nor floral.

Comments: A sample of this beer was provided by the Deschutes brewing Company. It is to be noted that it has standard crown cap. Not a twist off. This beer was sent to me in celebration of a new label. I believe this particular beer is been on the market since 1997. If I had tasted in 1997I certainly would have been impressed as they were not too many beers at the style available on the market. Tasting this beer this afternoon, if this beer is the original recipe, I applaud the consistency. Let me further note, that this is an excellent palate cleansing beer. If it is available to the on premise establishments in a popular price, I would suggest making it one of the House beers. I would like to try it on draft.

VITAL STATISTICS:

Malts: Medium Caramel Malt

Hops: Cascade (Oregon)

International Bittering Units: 40

Alcohol by Volume: 5%

Brewery Site:

http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/BrewPub/OnTap/5830.aspx

What others say:

BeerAdvocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/63/195

RateBeer:

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/deschutes-mirror-pond-pale-ale/2126/

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A taste of… Buckbean Black Noddy


Reno,

Nevada

USA

Preface:

On Tuesday 10 June 2008, at the height of what local on-air-meteorologists have called a dangerous heat wave, a box of “Yeast Samples” arrived at my door. As you can (pun intended) see, it was canned beer. The packaging was less than successful in that all cans suffered a dent or two. However, none were punctured. They were also quite warm to the touch before they were refrigerated. I can (again pun intended) only hope this has not affected the product.

That said, I offer the following tasting notes…

Appearance:

The press announcement referred to Black Noddy as in the style of Bavarian Schwarzbier and it looks the part. My trusty mini-Maglite revealed that it is actually a deep garnet red brew. As you can see from the picture above, the head was thin. I can attest that the brew was poured rather cold. I will post an addendum with the results of a “proper pour.”

Aroma:

Naturally, a brew poured too cold will have its aromas impaired. However, even chilled, there is a chocolate malt aroma on first impression. The second impression is the first amplified.

The first impression is malty grain followed by whiff of orange scent that I might miss if I wasn’t looking for it. Finally a richer malt aroma greets the first sip.

Mouth feel:

There is a medium bodied brew. As noted on the can, 5.2% ABV is neither flabby nor over endowed.

Flavor:

There is dominance (evocative word to use when talking Teutonic) of chocolate malt here it is as close to style as I have experienced. Is it the real thing? I can boast of sampling the real thing in Munich in 1988 in the presence of folks who knew their schwarzbier.

Finish:

The presence of the hops is long lasting but is a joined by a flavor I associate with some of the citric herbal teas that were so popular in the late 1970’s.

Comments:

A dark beer as a “summer seasonal” brew is not usual. This is an exception. It has flavor that holds up to a chill and would work well in the BBQ environment as well as with traditional grilled/charred meat, poultry and vegetables.

The brewery Site: http://www.buckbeanbeer.com

What others say…

RateBeer:

N/A at posting time.

Beer Advocate:

N/A at posting time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A taste of… Buckbean Original Orange Blossom Ale


Reno,

Nevada

USA

Preface:

Yesterday, at the height of what local on-air-meteorologists have called a dangerous heat wave, a box of “Yeast Samples” arrived at my door. As you can (pun intended) see, it was canned beer. The packaging was less than successful in that all cans suffered a dent or two. However, none were punctured.

That said, I offer the following tasting notes…

Appearance:

This is a bright new copper penny colored ale topped with a loosely knit tan head of medium to large bubbles. The head slowly falls and laces nicely.

Aroma:

The first impression is malty grain followed by whiff of orange scent that I might miss if I wasn’t looking for it. Finally a richer malt aroma greets the first sip.

Mouth feel:

There is a heftier mouth feel here than I expected… perhaps an extra measure of dextrin?

Flavor:

The dominant hop flavors strut their stuff early and with enthusiasm. As a partner, malt holds its own and actually leads about halfway through the dance. While this is developing the wall-flower is the “Orange Blossom”. The poor thing might be there to make hops look/taste extra “sweet” but that’s about it. A little less body and bronze color (slap my face and send me to the corner for some time out) and this would be an exceptional summer quaffing brew.

Finish:

The presence of the hops is long lasting but is a joined by a flavor I associate with some of the citric herbal teas that were so popular in the late 1970’s.

Comments:

As a “summer seasonal” brew I find it a bit robust. That said, I would be interested to pair this with red-sauce real smoked barbecue. This brew would also add a special dimension if used in a BBQ sauce. The intensity of the hops would marry well with the tomato and sugar while the orange might come out and impart a special bite all its own.

The brewery Site: http://www.buckbeanbeer.com

What others say…

RateBeer:

N/A at posting time.

Beer Advocate:

N/A at posting time.