Archive for the 'Old Ale' 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.
When I walked into the local watering hole recently, I was not looking for a strong old ale or a beer with 10.5% abv. Being that there was a cask of Harviestoun Brewery Ola Dubh 30 Year sitting on the bar, all ready for some gravity pouring action, my viewpoint changed and I thought, “Yes Dave, you actually do want a strong old ale with 10.5% abv.” Funny how that worked out. The beer’s description on the menu was “Strong Old Ale aged in 30 year old Highland Park Scotch Casks”, so I prepared myself for something unique.
The beer poured a deep, rich brown with no real head to speak of. The few bubbles that did rise, stick to the side of the glass, and provided an interesting toffee colored ring around the beer. The nose only hinted at the abv involved in the beer, with slight wisps of alcohol touching the nose every so often. A musty-leathery smell took control of most of the aroma, which made me question my purchase of the beer. There was however an interspersing of light vanilla aromas, giving me hope that all was not lost.
All was certainly not lost. In the mouth was where this beer found its own. My first impression of the beer was I was drinking a bold Cabernet. I progressed past this wine thought when the beer progressed through my mouth. Flavors of oak and vanilla were first on my tongue. Not overpowering, but making themselves known. There was also a “wood chip” taste I could not narrow down any further. Not to say I have ever eaten a wood chip, there was just an added wood flavor in the front of the beer. The beer moved onto some great roasted characteristics towards the middle. Lightly-roasted grains, and a more pronounced smoked peat aspect provided a nice off-set to the earlier mentioned wood-vanilla flavoring. This roast/smoke also had a certain drying aspect to them. The beer finished with a light and enjoyable bitterness characteristic, which was mixed in with a pleasant, and surprising, juniper berries taste. All of these tastes flowed through the mouth smoothly and stuck around for quite some time, due to the beer’s thick, but pleasurable, viscosity.
Definitely not a beer for everyone. While enjoying mine, someone else purchased a glass of this beer, had two sips, put it aside and ordered a different beer. That being said, my wife, a wine drinker before I got her into beer, really enjoyed this beer. It would not become a daily drinker, or even a regular drinker, for me, but for a special occasion, or a cold evening, this beer would hit the spot. Impressive stuff!
Second on the New Staton, PA visit beer list is the Railbender Ale. This beer has a little more promise than the Chimp Chiller. Judging by the pour alone it appears to be more of a true ale that took some thought to create.
It has a darker copper hue with a smidgen of head. That may be due in part because I had to pour a little in a plastic cup to see what it looks like. Please note that is not by choice but rather circumstance because that is the only “glassware” in my room. It smells nutty and I sense that the roasted malts will carry this beer’s flavor. As expected there is a roasted quality but there is a mild sweetness that tries to be a part of the overall taste. These dueling characteristics create a bitterness that I can’t quite figure out. I feel as if I am muddling through a random assortment of flavors. The final flavor rounds out with a deep nuttiness that is pretty good but it feels as if it takes forever to get there. Enjoying this beer will take patience but it can be done…I guess.
Hello, again, dear friends. It’s been quite some time since our last discussion, but I have returned to provide some insight into this vintage (well, the year’s almost over anyway) ale from North Coast. Ideally, I’d like to try this one again in about a year or two, and hope to have one saved for just that occasion. But, of course, you can’t let all good beer sit idly by, can you? Hopefully this review will provide some notes for posterity.
The beer pours a smooth, rusty tone with notes of orange and auburn. It smells sweet, with some fruit undertones (orange?) and general spiciness. There was little to no head with the pour, but it’s a nice bodied beer nonetheless. Now, onto the good stuff. The beer tastes very much like a typical abbey-style ale. There are subtle hints of fruit, and the alcohol is very much present (it is 11.7 abv). While the alcohol is strong, it is not overwhelming – it certainly hits the back of the throat and you know you’re drinking a burly beer, but it’s not going to knock you down like a Golden Monkey. In any case, the overall flavor is sweet with some smoky undertones as well – all in all, it’s got a good bit of complexity. I really would enjoy trying this again in about two or three years, or even to get my hands on some older, true vintage Old Stock. I have a feeling this bad boy mellows out with age, but as of now, I have nothing to support that thought.
With that said, I’d like wish a “Merry Everyone” to those readers of sevenpack stretched out amongst the WWW’s. Enjoy your holidays with at least one good beer, and maybe more.
This is the 2nd beer I’ve tasted from this particular brewery that just showed up on NC shelves a bit over a month ago. I was fairly pleased with the first, and I’m rather intrigued by the second. Frankly, I haven’t seen too many Old Ales on shelves until the last several months – it seems like it’s a new trend that’s springing up for the American palate. I’m still skeptical of the specificity of the Old Ale, as it seems a rather vague category. But, that may just be my lack of education talking! Either way, I’ll give it the college try.
The pour of this beer is a very dark ruby that is quite clear with absolutely zero lasting head. The aroma of this really jumps out at you. It is chock full of horehound candy and anise, with a malty sweet undercurrent. In the mouth, the overwhelming effect is of sweetness. There is a ton of dark fruit in this, reminiscent of dark cherry and some grape. There is also the perpetual kick of the anise and horehound presences from the aroma. Beneath all of this is that dark malty sweetness. This is very much like a neutered barleywine ale. The predominant difference is that there is zero hop presence to this, and the flavor isn’t quite as sharp as a barleywine. So, what you end up with is a remarkably dark and fruity sweet ale that goes down quite easy. This is really a tasty brew, and has a lot of flavor going on, but it presents it in a very un-intimidating fashion. I’m fairly impressed with this showing from Butte Creek.
Again, a brewer I’m not terribly familiar with. The name rings bells, but I’ve certainly never had this ‘old ale’, and I’m anxious to try it out. Furthermore, I’ve noticed a lot more ‘old ales’ on the shelves these days, which is an exciting proposition to me, as I tend to enjoy this dark and often complex brand of beer.
This particular brew pours a very dark amber-brown color with an aroma that is a blend of toffee and licorice. In the mouth, this beer begins very chocolatey-sweet, but quickly moves into a toffee flavor around the middle of the tongue. Give it a second, and the anise flavor begins to kick in around the back, and it’s a mix of the anise and the toffee that round out the beer. Throughout the abovementioned flavors, you’ll also catch a smoky tint and a touch of a bready flavor. Altogether, I’d say this is pretty good. It’s a thick mouthfeel and a full flavor that has various rewarding flavors through the mouth. I’m looking forward to getting a better grasp on this style but, if this is any indication, I like where we’re going with this.
It’s far too late in the evening for this beer, but I’m doing my best. This is a burly beer. It smells abbey, it tastes dark amber with port hints. I could perhaps pick out more elaborate or obvious flavors if my palate wasn’t obliterated. All things said and done, I think this is a good beer. But, I won’t likely recognize it’s merits until the next tasting
This, the third and final of the Longshot series, is certainly the burliest and most interesting of the three brews in the series. Again, I’m not entirely sure what genre this should be tossed into, although it seems as though this would be on par with a Belgian abbey-style ale or even an oak-aged ale of some sort. Regardless, while I’m not sure what it is, I am certain that I like it.
This beer pours a dark and transparent brown with a very slight caramel head. The aroma of the Old Ale is very rich, with hints of maple, anise, and malt. In the mouth, this is a very complex beer. The initial taste is quite sweet and rich, moving to a substantial maple tone on the middle of the tongue. Through the length of the tongue, we get hints of maple, dark cherry, licorice, and finally some dark malt around the back of the mouth that sits around for the aftertaste. Also in the aftertaste, there are hints of toffee that seem to develop in the seconds after the beer is swallowed. Honestly, I’m sure I’m missing some flavors here. This beer is positively bursting with flavor, and it plays different all over the tongue. Apart from the Utopias, this is the craziest beer I’ve drank from the folks at Sam Adams, and I feel sure I would buy this regularly if it were offered outside of this specialty pack. (And, between you and me, they could probably sell this one for a lot more and get away with it)