Archive for the 'Ska' category
Hey you guys, it’s canned beer week! Frankly, in NC, I’m noticing that it’s hard to participate in canned beer week without reviewing some domestic macro-brew swill. I’m going to search further beer repositories around town to see what I can snag, but this offering here is the only canned microbrew I could find at the Triangle’s best beer store that we haven’t reviewed yet. So, in a nutshell, it’s looking dire for canned beer around here. But, mark my words, I’ll keep trying…
Some of you know that I’ve had a mixed bag reviewing Ska beers. A couple of their brews I really like, a couple of them I literally abhor. We even got one of the founders at Ska to comment here on SevenPack when I gave an especially scathing review (input that I certainly appreciated). So, I’m not sure what to expect from this. I haven’t drunk it in the past, due to my mixed emotions about Ska – but, since it’s canned beer week, I’m going to give it a go.
This beer pours a beautiful filtered dark amber color – truly a very pretty beer. There is a lasting thin caramel head on this beer, and the head sticks to the glass leaving an impressive spiderweb on your glass. The aroma of this is rich and malty and really very impressive – much better than you’ll find on most canned brews. In the mouth, this beer is initially a bit impotent, and I had a big ‘blah’ reaction. However, shortly after the tip of the tongue, this beer comes screaming in with a rather impressive flavor blast. About the middle of the tongue, we catch a big dose of biscuity malt and the rich sweetness of that quickly spreads around the mouth. This sweetness rules the beer until right at the back of the mouth and into the aftertaste. At this point, a nutty bitterness springs up and creeps back into the mouth to tackle the remaining sweetness. All in all, it’s an interesting beer that has pleasant and discrete stages in its flavor development. I must say, this is another victory for Ska, in my book. While this isn’t an especially refreshing canned beer, it would be great at a backyard BBQ sometime around spring or autumn. Quite tasty, if you’re into ESBs…
Those of you who know me know that I’m not really a big fan of porters. It’s usually about the last genre that I’ll reach for when it’s time to drink a brew. Don’t get me wrong, occasionally a mood just hits me where I really crave one of these bad boys – so, my tastebuds ARE capable of really digging them; it’s just a rare occasion when it happens. Tonight, I’m about fifty-fifty. I just got back from a Kid Koala show in Carrboro where I was drinking Duck Rabbit Milk Stout and Carolina Brewery Downtown Trolley Brown. So, I figure, why mess up a dark beer night by switching to light beer. So, here I am trying out the Nefarious Ten Pin. This is an experience I’ve been waiting for because, thus far, Ska Brewing is 1 and 1 with me – I really loved their IIPA, and I really didn’t like their Dubbel Blonde. Furthermore, the big guy over at Ska, David, even found his way to the site and saw the reviews. So, for me, emotionally, a lot is riding on this review!
This beer pours a very dark brown – might as well be black. There is a rather pleasant rocky caramel head and an aroma that doesn’t seem as in-your-face as I might expect from an imperial porter (but, it is allergy season, so my smeller isn’t at its best). Nevertheless, I do sense a slight nuttiness and just a hint of smoke. In the mouth, my initial impression is slightly bacon-y sweet on the tip of the tongue, which may sound weird, but just trust me. On through the mouth, a substantial smokiness forms around the middle of the tongue and stakes it’s claim there as the rest of the beer heads down the throat. A bit of the nuttiness hits around the back of the mouth along with a slight malty sweetness and a flavor that I can only equate to cola. An oddity of this beer is that the aftertaste, for me, sits right in the middle of the tongue, not at the back of the throat like usual. It’s as though that smokiness around the center of the mouth is just hanging out, and it doesn’t go anywhere for at least a minute. It’s pretty interesting, and tends to make the aftertaste a more noticeable experience than with most beers. Honestly, I think this is really good. It isn’t quite as potent in flavor as some imperial porters, but it is full and smooth and has a solid presence in the mouth, both in the taste and the aftertaste. I’m tempted to rate this near the top of my porter rankings, with the only probable forerunner the porter from D. Carnegie & Co, which has been a favorite of mine for a long time. In short, this is a great job from David and the guys at Ska Brewing Company, and I am very pleasantly surprised!
One word came to mind when I first wrapped my lips around this interpretation of a dubbel blonde:
To be honest, I don’t even want to spend much time writing about this beer – I’d rather spend that time pouring this beer down the sink. Unfortunately, my morals won’t allow me to waste even bad beer, so I guess I’ll sit here and write a few sentences while I force this down my gullet. First of all, I’ve always been suspect of Ska Brewing company. I don’t like their marketing scheme; I don’t like their bottle art; and I usually don’t like their choice of varieties. However, I recently tried their IIPA, which was very good. So, I thought I might be in for a treat with this dubbel blonde, which is also a variety I enjoy. But, I was wrong. And, I think I know exactly what the problem is – the addition of wildflower honey to the beer. I have had honey wheats and other such honey-addled beers that I enjoyed. However, these guys used a honey that is dry and not very sweet, which gives this beer a burnt unpleasant aroma and a flavor to match. I can actually taste some of the citrus and sweetness that I like in this genre when the beer first enters the mouth. However, it is quickly kicked in the teeth by this bitter honey backbone that is literally overpowering. For completeness, I can say that the only thing about this beer that I don’t find repulsive is the color; everything else about it – from the label to the aftertaste – I find literally abhorrent. I will never buy this beer again.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the first offering from the Ska brewing company to make it to Sevenpack. I’m not sure why this is the case – the folks at Ska make a number of tempting brews. I believe it must have something to do with the arguably gawdy label art. Just a thought.
This beer is a double IPA – one of my favorite varieties. And, to be honest, Ska does a very good job with it. The pour is a lovely ruby red, and the aroma is pungent with ripe floral hops – almost as much of a delight to smell as to drink. In the mouth, the beer has a relatively heavy mouthfeel. The first sensation I get is a malty sweetness, followed by a burst of very fresh floral hoppiness. In the back of the mouth, the flavor subsides into a nice hop bitterness that sticks around in the back of the throat long after the beer is gone. I think that the differentiator between this brew and comparable IPAs is just how fresh it tastes. I’m unsure what particular hops go into this, but the beer just tastes ‘green’, and that’s a good thing. While IPA fans into uber-bitterness might not like this as much as the competition, anyone who appreciates a very floral IPA with a solid malt backbone and decent hop bitterness should really give this a try. Quite a bargain at about $5.50 a bottle.