Archive for the 'Bison' category
Well, we all know that the real reason I drink beer is to help other people. So, when I see a beer like the Reunion ’08 that benefits bone cancer research, then of course I’m going to pick it up. Besides that, it sounds pretty good – Bison makes some decent beer, and a red ale with that rye twang could be a pretty tasty treat. So, let’s check it out, shall we?
The pour of the Reunion is a clear medium amber with a thin caramel head that maintains around the edges of the glass whilst dissipating in the center. The aroma is quite sweet, full of toffee and dark sweetbreads, and richer than most amber ales you’ll find. In the mouth, this beer is big and flavorful. The mouthfeel is thick and rich and coats all areas of the mouth. The first sensation is all toffee sweetness. This flavor continues and diminishes to the middle of the tongue where it becomes a bit sweeter, but more bready. About this same point in the mouth, a tangy rye sensation comes about, giving this beer a touch of sourness, a bit of tanginess, and a lot of goodness. This amalgamation of sweet and tangy continues through the mouth, leaving us with an aftertaste that surprisingly holds on to all of the above. There is a coating of rich sweetness around the front of the mouth, and that tanginess keeps holding on at the back of the throat. Long story short, I think this is a great beer. Amber ales, due to their sweet richness, are prime time for a rye addition, and this beer does it very well. It’s tasty in the way that most amber ales are, but the flavor is extra full, and it tosses in that rye craziness to set this beer apart. This is a great job by Bison, and it’ll hopefully do some good things for the good cause, as well.
You may recall that I absolutely loved the Bison Saison Ale that they released in smaller single re-corkable bottles back about a year ago as part of the 2006 Brewer’s Reserve. Now, all of a sudden, here arrives the 2007 Brewer’s Reserve, and I couldn’t be happier that they again released the saison only this time in a BIGGER bottle, so more to enjoy! My only hope is that this year’s offering lives up to last year’s lofty expectations…
The pour of this saison is a mildly cloudy golden color with pretty intense carbonation and just a slight fluffy white head. The aroma is extremely nice. It is very pungent with lots of citrus and a sour bite. It burns the nostrils just a tad, but it’s just the way a saison should smell – very pleasant, indeed. In the mouth, this is again a big showing from Bison. There is a lot of sourness in this beer around the front of the mouth, making you pucker up a bit, but it is a very refreshing sensation. Towards the back of the mouth, the beer settles into a mellower malty sweetness with a citrus tinge and an odd butter flavor. However, it all works out, and the beer finishes very richly, leaving that buttery malt sweetness at the back of the mouth. I will say that this beer doesn’t finish as crisp and clean as many saisons, but it is absolutely delicious all the way through the mouth, including the aftertaste, so I can’t say many bad things about it. Honestly, I can’t remember the 2006 well enough to adequately compare (although I DO have one saved in the cellar, so maybe I’ll get froggy next year and do a 3-year comparison). However, I CAN say that this is a delicious beer, and in the top tier of saison’s I have tasty. So, hats off to Bison one more time for making one of the best American saisons on the market today.
Bison, in my opinion, is a tough brewery to peg. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of most of their 6-packs. However, the last couple of big-bottle brews I’ve had from them have rocked my socks off, and I think their Saison Ale might be the best American version I’ve ever tasted – certainly top 3 globally. So, going into this Winter Warmer, I’m pretty excited since it’s a big bottle, but I always gotsta be a little wary. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mighty tasty brew, even in the summer heat.
The beer pours a very dark reddish brown with an aroma very much like any other dubbel, with hints of chocolate and a bit of anise. In addition, this brew carries a fairly strong fruity aroma, reminiscent of figs or raisins. In the mouth, this is about like the aroma suggests. There is a decent chocolate tone to it, although more of a sweet chocolate than bitter. In addition, there is the fruit flavor, although it isn’t nearly as powerful as I expected from the aroma, and this is a good thing. Rather, you can taste hints of raisin that are quite subtle and complement the chocolatey flavor well. It’s almost like a light Raisinette flavor, if you’re familiar with those. If you’re not, they’re chocolate covered raisins, and they’re delightful. The aftertaste here is rather sweet, with a diminishing chocolate flavor as time passes. Overall, I’d say this is a good dubbel with a subdued flavor. It is fairly complex and well-layered, and it dances lightly on the tongue. I would certainly be happy to drink this again, and I think it would be a great alternative to a more ballsy Belgian dubbel when you want something a bit softer-spoken.
I still haven’t gotten into the whole “organic” beer craze. I’m not going to get on my soapbox about why I think all beers are organic, instead I’ll take this time to try to figure out exactly what kind of beer I’m drinking. I’ve never heard of a golden bock but given that it is a lager I can only assume it is bottom fermented at cooler temperatures. And, while I could be completely wrong about this I would hypothesize that the beer is then frozen to separate the alcohol and water, making this a stronger brew. If I’m not mistaken this is how dopplebock is made [Ed. note - Actually, Matt's talking about an Eisbock here, not a standard bock - we recently had the bock conversation and, like the 'birds and bees' conversation, I don't think he understood most of it]. And so with lighter grains one could feisibly make a “golden bock.” The fact is the folks at Bison are the only ones that know for sure, so if you could shed some light on the brewing process we at Sevenpack would greatly appreciate it.
This beer has a hazy golden hue and yet it appears to be very clean. Typically I don’t notice the aesthetics of a beer but for some reason I am captivated by the way the Golden Bock looks in my glass. Quite frankly it actually looks appetizing. The smell is crisp and fresh like a cool spring morning. It has the earthy floral scent to comparable to grass clippings and complimented by a sweet “apple-like” quality. The taste is hard to describe, I’ve finished 2/3 of a bottle now and I still can’t quite figure it out. It is well-balanced and smooth but there aren’t any flavors that stand out. There is a roasted maltiness that coats the back of the throat while a mild hoppiness tickles the front of the tongue. I wish I could say that it is like something in particular, but I really can’t. While the taste and smell seem to be polar opposites, somehow the sum is greater than its parts, which are fantastic in their own right. I can say without a doubt that if I could find this in a 6-pack I would make this my regular session brew because it’s strong enough at 7.5% abv to give me a buzz and light enough to sit well in my stomach over the course of many hours.
If I’m not mistaken I had some rather harsh words about the Bison Gingerbread Ale. I would like to apologize to the fine folks at Bison and say that I may not have given it a fair shake. Furthermore, I will more than likely amend my comments once I try it again. Until then let’s see how your IPA stacks up against the competition.
This beer has a dense copper appearance and a hop-heavy aroma. I am also picking up a slight grape-like sweetness that I’m not sure I’m fond of. There shouldn’t be anything sweet about an IPA. The bigger, the bolder, the more bite, the better-if you ask me. Much like the smell, I can’t get a firm handle on the taste. The “fore-taste” boasts a strong foral flavor that rounds out with a rich malty feel. The hoppiness rises into the nose as the metallic finish covers the tongue. On paper it sounds like the perfect IPA but it isn’t as well-balanced as it sounds. At times the malt and hops seems to be in competition rather than working in concert with one another. At times I am experiencing an abrasive smokey aftertate. I just don’t know…It’s kinda like a relationship; when it’s good, it’s great and when it’s bad, it sucks a mean one. And every morning, like every sip, you’re not quite sure what your going to get. Maybe she’ll give you a kiss or maybe she’ll be pissed about something you were “supposed to have known about” which makes your life miserable. This certainly isn’t my favorite IPA but it has its finer points and it isn’t nearly as bad as others; so ,despite its shortcomoings, I’ve had worse, so I would have to say it is a slightly above average brew.
Okay, Bison, you have redeemed yourself – but only just! After your version of a Belgian tripel, my feelings were a bit hurt. It seemed almost like you didn’t care – like you were content to release a mediocre brew with a lackluster flavor and label it with a name that carries centuries of history and prestige. But, fortunately, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and cracked open your version of a Barleywine ale. This beer is actually quite good. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t great. But, it IS good – better than most barleywine ales, but not as good as some. I’ll talk about it for a second.
The beer pours a dark amber – typical of a barleywine ale, but perhaps not as dark as a few I’ve seen. This time (in contrast to the Belgian Ale), the aroma is a bit lackluster. There is some malt here; there’s some anise; there’s even a bit of dark cherry or grape. However, in my opinion, nothing comes to the forefront enough to make my tastebuds really tingle in anticipation. Rather, it is a grouping of good aromas that aren’t quite in concert to make something truly great. In the mouth, the beer is a bit better. First and foremost, there is a solid alcohol burn. Normally, I would dismiss this as immature in a beer. However, a barleywine ale, by nature, has bigger balls than most beer. So, I expect such a brew to proudly display those balls (speaking figuratively, of course). Following the alcohol burn, we instantly get a good a dose of light licorice flavor and substantial spice. There is also a nice (slightly syrupy) sweetness to the beer that gives a nice canvas for the other flavors. Throughout the mouth, any harshness dwindles to leave you with a pleasant hoppy aftertaste that sits in the back of the mouth for quite some time. It is really rather nice, and the different stages of flavor are all welcome and come to a nice conclusion. Again, I think there are better barleywine ales out there, but I think that Bison has really done us proud with a great interpretation.
Sometimes, now and again, I’ll get nervous that maybe we’re drinking up the world’s supply of beer too fast, and maybe we at SevenPack will eventually run out of new beers to drink and review. Sometimes, when we go to the beer store, we’ll see shelves and shelves of quality brews, but nothing new. Those are the disconcerting trips. Tonight, however, we had just the opposite experience. Matt and I made a trip down to the Blue Light, only to find that there were MANY new beers – tons of ‘em! New offerings from Unibroue, Het Anker, Allagash, Bison, and others! That, my friends, is a good feeling. I like to think that, solely because of the speed at which we are reviewing the beers of the world, the brewers of the world have elected to step up to the plate bring their production speed up to par.
This particular brew, the Bison Belgian, is just one of those beers that appeared tonight for the first time on our shelves. And, seeing as this is a Belgian Tripel (and I love tripels), I had to try it. This beer pours the traditional dark golden color, and seems well filtered and clear. The aroma is fairly inviting – lots of candi sugar sweetness, a bit of caramel, and just a light hint of spice. The taste, however, is a bit of a disappointment. The initial flavor is a bit dull and metallic. There is a flat malt flavor at the front of the tongue that moves into a light sweetness and then merges to a surprising bitterness at the back of the mouth. All the while, the metallic undertone sticks with you in a very unflattering way. I can taste some hints of what makes a tripel great here – there is the candi sweetness (far too transient here), and I can see just a hint of spice waaaay in the back of the taste. Unfortunately, these positive qualities are far too subdued. I can’t help but think that something may have gone wrong with this brew, as I don’t think Bison would have chosen this as their preferred flavor had all things gone correctly. Don’t worry, Bison, I’m still hanging with you. Overall, you’re still getting high marks on the whole – we won’t let one bad review drag that down. Let’s just hope that your barleywine that I also purchased pulls you back up.
My, my, Bison – you’ve really outdone yourself this time! Traditionally, I’m impressed with Bison only because I like their labels and I think they make a pretty good gingerbread ale. But, to be honest, I never had too much respect for their ability to brew a legitimate competitor when it comes to more classical varieties. However, I must now officially change my stance. This interpretation of a Farmhouse Ale is really quite outstanding. This is part of the 2006 Brewer’s Reserve series, which basically means that it gets a fancy bottle and a fancy label and a higher pricetag.
The pour of this beer is pretty traditional for a farmhouse (or saison) ale – it is a dark golden with just a hint of cloudiness. The aroma here is a fairly pungent sour. It isn’t, however, overwhelming or unpleasant – it seems there is just enough citrus in the head to cut the sourness and make it rather pleasant. In the mouth, however, is where this really shines. While exhibiting traditional saison qualities, this beer also expands on the genre and becomes a much more complex being. The initial sensation is a light burn on the front of the tongue. This burn transitions into a sharp sourness about the middle of the mouth, as expected. The fun part comes now – the sourness seems to morph into a much wider flavor that encompasses this sourness along with a bit of lemon and some floral hoppiness. This sensation expands into the mouth, giving this beer a great mouthfeel. On down the throat, the beer leaves you with a pleasant, refreshing sourness with a surprising hop presence. Honestly, this might be the best saison I have yet tried. It encompasses everything a farmhouse ale should be, and then it takes it just a step further to make it interesting. My only regret with this beer is that the bottle is too small and there aren’t any more of them in my fridge.
This is my third time having this beer and I’m surprised it hasn’t been reviewed yet. I must say I haven’t kept buying it because I like it but rather because it sounds appealing and I keep forgetting I’ve had it before. It is a holiday brew and given that it is June 13th you can tell it has been sitting in my beer fridge for quite some time. It pours a dark amber color and certainly smells of ginger. It is a decent brew but not great because I think you could create this same flavor if you poured a Guiness and sprinkled some ginger in it. In conclusion, this beer isn’t as appetizing as it sounds. If you chose not to buy it you aren’t missing out on much.