Archive for the 'Highland' category
This here is an anniversary ale from the folks at Highland. Being (nearly) born and bred in Asheville, I have a special place in my heart for Highland. I’ve always enjoyed their brews, and they bring to mind images of good times in the mountains. While it isn’t exactly a cold winter night right now (perfect for an English-style old ale), I’m still anxious to give this one a taste.
The pour here is a cloudy brown color – almost chocolaty in both color and consistency – with a thin caramel head that leaves traces all down the sides of the glass. In the nose, this beer is fairly nondescript – there are metallic hints, a slight bite of aniseed, and just a tiny bit of chocolate, but altogether not nearly as aromatic as I expected. In the mouth, however, this brew really begins to shine. Right at the front of the mouth, we get some bright fruity sweetness reminiscent of dark cherry. As the beer begins to traverse the tongue, much richer flavors evolve, including a very rich malt and some developing lighter chocolate. Through the mouth, this richness evolves exceptionally, giving this beer a huge mouthfeel and great flavor. Some of that early dark fruit flavor even continues to build, providing hints of grape towards the back of the mouth. The aftertaste of this is also a treat – thick, rich, and warm, it sticks around for a solid minute after the beer is gone. Overall, I’d consider this a good take on the genre. I haven’t had a lot of “old ales”, and I feel like the variety leaves some room for interpretation, but this is big and rich and continues to warm you with its high abv down the throat. This may just be a one-off brew from the folks at Highland, but I’d consider it quite a success.
In theory, I like dark beers. I enjoy the typical big mouthfeels, the rich, bold flavors, and they myriad genres that fall under the category. However, in practice, I don’t drink all that many dark beers. Probably 80% of the time, you’ll find me reaching for something lighter, as I’m especially fond of the IPAs, tripels, and weiss-biers of the world. However, when my folks from Highland come out with an imperial version of their already-tasty Black Mocha Stout, then I have to take notice. And by ‘take notice’, I mean spend $13 for a bottle of beer…
This pours a super dark black with a thin but rich caramel head. In the nose, there are loads of chocolate and nut aromas. The flavor of this is, as expected, a bigger version of their typical Black Mocha Stout. Initially, you can’t help but notice the loads of rich chocolate flavor here. As the beer travels down the palate, additionally nuttiness comes into play, as do some rich flavors contributed by the dark malt. This comes in pretty beefy at 9.5% abv. However, it actually tastes a bit bigger. There is a definite alcohol burn to this, and you can taste it a bit around the back of the tongue. This isn’t a bad thing – just adds a bit of oomph to this beer that is pretty big already. Another great attribute of this beer is its rich and pillowy mouthfeel. It’s full and soft, coating the mouth and tongue, contributing an aftertaste that literally sticks to the palate for many seconds after the beer is gone. Overall, this is a mighty tasty brew, and a must-have if you’re into big stouts. I’m generally impressed with what Highland brings into the world, and this brew is no exception…
I tell you what, folks. It’s cold in Durham tonight. I mean, like, sub-arctic 45 degrees cold. I don’t relish the onslaught of winter weather, but it does remind me of growing up over in the mountains of NC and that first frost of winter. So, in that vein, it seemed fitting to reach for a brew from Asheville, NC to warm me up this evening, and it just so happens that the Clawhammer Oktoberfest is the lucky winner.
The Clawhammer pours a medium amber color – really more golden than amber – with a thin and slightly off-white head. The aroma of this beer is mostly malty, with a buttery, almost pretzelish, scent to it. In the mouth, this is a sweet and spicy Oktoberfest that, I must say, is one of the better Oktoberfest brews I’ve had this year. In the front of the mouth, we get a lot of malty sweetness. As this sweetness progresses, it gets a bit spicier with hints of those autumn spices that I know not the names for – reminiscent of tasty desserts and colors like orange and brown (or maybe that’s just me). Anyway, this does have some richer buttery elements to it that gives it more of a dessert-like quality. However, it tends to wash pretty clean, like any good lager. All around, this is a flavorful and refreshing Oktoberfest, meeting my expectations of a beer that would come from a town such as Asheville. Highly recommended, I think you’ll be hard up to find a better Oktoberfest than this, judging from those I’ve tasted thus far…
Greetings friends! We come to you from Western North Carolina with a review of a Highland seasonal, the Cattail Wheat Beer. Highland never disappoints, and this beer is no exception. While I would not categorize it as “complex”, it is most certainly drinkable. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want in a beer?
The beer pours (out of a 12 oz. bottle, FYI) a hazy, butterscotch color. There is little, if any, discernible head. There is hardly any smell emanating from the beer – it certainly seems straight forward from the get-go. The aroma has a good, wheaty essence, but nothing that stands out. Like most American wheat ales, there are hints of citrus as well. These are very subtle though. The flavor is where the citrus notes really stand out. Vibrant tinges of lemon, orange zest, and some more floral hops are present. I would certainly not describe them as jumping out at you, but they are there. The mouthfeel is airy and not heavy at all. It is undeniably drinkable – it goes down very smooth with little or no after taste.
Again, I wouldn’t rate this as a complex offering from Highland. It is a very good beer and would be wonderful for session drinking. One could certainly imagine enjoying this beer while staring out at the Black Mountains from a porch swing with a late summer breeze blowing through the air. Just as easily, this would be a great beer to have while watching your favorite band playing in front of you, too. While it doesn’t blow your mind like some beers, it does a good job of being a refreshing, delightful wheat that you can enjoy on these hot summer afternoons.
This here is the ‘non-imperial’ version of a Highland IPA that we reviewed just a few weeks ago. Again, this comes from a brewery in what I often consider my ‘hometown’ of Asheville, NC – they make some serious brews.
The Kashmir IPA pours a very clear medium golden color with a light head that seems extra sticky and forms a spiderweb down the side of the glass. The aroma of this IPA is quite bitter with a light hint of malty sweetness. The hops are somewhat floral but also carry a musty, metallic aroma. In the mouth, there is an early noticeable sweetness from the malt backbone. However, this is quickly mediated by a hoppiness that is first very floral and fresh. This floral flavor spreads around the mouth and gets into the nasal passage as the beer progresses to the back of the mouth. The aftertaste of this, however, gets more from a metallic hop. It is bitter and not overwhelming, but a noticeable presence in the throat. This is an interesting IPA because, while it does utilize a decent dose of malt, it never seems more than a sideshow. In the center ring, however, we have two noticeable hop characteristics that intermingle and play through the mouth, ending with a pleasant but fairly subtle aftertaste. I find this to be a mighty fine IPA with a medium mouthfeel and a generous combination of flavors that you will find singularly in many other beers, but they here mingle together agreeably. Tasty, indeed.
Most of you out there in TV land probably won’t even be able to find this beer. Hell, most of you probably don’t even know of Highland brewery out of Asheville, NC. But, if you ARE familiar with Highland, then I hope you hold them in high esteem. This brewery, tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains, puts out some seriously good brews, including my very most favoritest winter brew in the world, the Cold Mountain Ale. Anyway, Highland also makes a pretty fantastic IPA called the Kashmir. In and of itself, this is a great IPA, but now I see that Highland has come out with a limited release Imperial version of the Kashmir. Overall, it looks like Highland used over 200 pounds of hops in this small 5-barrel batch, including 5 different kind of hops. I have a fairly good knowledge of brewing, folks, and that’s some serious hops. If anyone out there knows, I would be curious how these amounts compare to other big IPAs like the Dogfish Head 90 or 120 minute varieties.
This beer pours a very clear but remarkably dark burnt orange color. This is one of the darkest IPAs I’ve seen, so far as I can remember. The aroma of this is, as expected, chock full of hop. The hop aroma is very floral and very sweet. Honestly, although this is a great aroma, it slightly overpowers the nostrils and I actually found it a bit abrasive! In the mouth, this beer comes across very big and very sweet and very hoppy. The first sensations in the mouth are quite sweet and flowery. The sweetness is slightly peculiar, as it isn’t ‘sweetbready’ like in many big IPAs. Rather, it’s just a sugary sweet floral flavor that is almost cloying. Soon into the mouth, though, we get a giant hop blast that is fairly non-descript in variety, because there are so many hops involved here. However, the flavor is huge and floral and doesn’t cut too much into the sweetness. Rather, the floral aspects tie together the sweetness and the bitterness to just make a big complex beer with many facets. On through the mouth, the hops blaze a trail down the tongue that burns a bit and eventually fizzles into a lasting floral bitterness on the back of the tongue. Overall, this is a very interesting beer. Honestly, it doesn’t strike me as a frequent repeat performer, because it can be a bit sweet and a bit overpowering at times. However, it IS very good and I have to recommend it. I think that my image of this beer could be enhanced if either a) I had a better grasp on moderation, or b) they bottled this in 10-12 oz. bottles instead of this 1 pint 6 oz. tall boy, because you really only need a small dose of this to appreciate it, and more than that is overkill. In the end, I have to applaud Highland on an impressive achievement here – I just recommend enjoying a small dose of this in a snifter and soak up all the myriad aspects of it.
Ahh, March. More importantly I think, Ahh, March Madness. You have to love this time of year when the basketballs are flying and Billy Packer is grousing over someone else. What better to enjoy this time of year than a beer born and brewed in the mountains of North Carolina, the perennial hotbed of collegiate basketball.
With that in mind, I sat down on the Thursday of the Sweet Sixteen to enjoy a nice Highland Tasgall Ale. The Tasgall is nominally a Scottish ale, and has many of those qualities while being a bit more hoppy than a traditional Scottish ale. The Tasgall pours a very heady and dark black – there is just the faintest bit of brown and ivory in the head before it dissipates. The pour is similar to that of a chocolate stout, and in many respects, I think this beer resembles that. There is a great chocoalte-y, coffee flavor that permeates throughout the beer and aftertaste. However, it is never too bitter. The hops are certainly ever present and very lively. They are not overpowering however – instead, they really mellow and mix well with the flavors of chocolate and coffee (and perhaps a little caramel as well).
All in all, this is a terrific beer, and appropriate for March Madness. Raise one to your favorite team and enjoy – so long as that team is North Carolina or whomever might be playing Duke.
This fine beer from the folks at Highland Brewing Company has been a seasonal standby of mine for the past couple of years. Each year they seem to deliver a winter ale that is complex and new, even by the standards of the past version of the same beer. I recently had the opportunity to try this brew at Highland Brewery whilst visiting for New Year’s. After that rendezvous, I was afraid I’d never see the jewel again, as it sold out on Asheville shelves days after the release. Fortunately, Durham isn’t quite so quick on the gun, so I was able to grab a bottle at the local beer store. And, true to my memory, it is a gem.
The pour of this beer is a dark brown with a slight cloudiness and a light red tint. As soon as you pour it, you catch a waft of an aroma containing a lot of vanilla along with some spice and sweetbread qualities. In the mouth, the beer is fairly true to its aroma. The first taste I sense is a spry sweetness slightly reminiscent of blueberry. Further through the mouth a melange of vanilla and spice is very apparent (and very tasty). This vanilla sticks around and blends with a malty sweetness that follows to the back of the mouth and lingers in the aftertaste. This brew has definite stages of flavor development in the mouth, and all of them combine to make a winter brew that is complex and sweet. On thing that this beer doesn’t offer much of is hops or bitterness. Normally, this would irk me, but I feel that excess hops would only diminish this particular beer, and so I have to laud Highland’s choice to leave them out. This is a fantastic beer, and you should definitely have some if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity.
I’ve noticed that we’re a bit behind on reviewing beers from our beloved home state here on SevenPack. With an eye to correct this oversight, I’m enjoying a tasty brew from the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC. Being a mountain boy myself, and having been raised a stone’s throw from Asheville, I have a special appreciation for the stuff from Highland. They have a delightful habit of making excellent dark and/or Scottish inspired beer varieties. This is actually my first time enjoying their Black Mocha Stout, and I am quite impressed.
This beer pours a very dark black. It isn’t quite as dark as, say, the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, but it’s pretty dark. Just the slightest bit of light creeps in around the edges of the glass. There is initially a small caramel-colored head, but this quickly dissipates. The aroma, as expected, is rich with chocolate and caramel. It is a very sweet aroma and the dark malts used in the brew are apparent. The taste here is very consistent with the aroma. You are initially hit with a light sweetness at the front of the mouth that moves to a fairly unexpected hop presence. This hoppiness is quickly overtaken by that rich dark malt that presents itself as a rich toffee blended with dark chocolate. This combination of bitter and sweet provides a nice bite to the beer that makes it seem much bigger than the actual abv of 5.6%. There is also a nice nutty presence that makes this seem a little more ‘woodsy’ or ‘wild’ than some comparable beers. All in all, I would place this on a tier with some of the best chocolate stouts I’ve had. It isn’t quite as decadent or rich as the Brooklyn variety, but it has more of a bite and would, I believe, suit many occasions even better than what Brooklyn has to offer. But, then again, that may just be the mountain boy in me taking sides…