Archive for the 'Beer Can Week' category
Well, if you were reading yesterday, then you already know the story of where Top of the Hill brewery comes from. So, I’m not going to dwell on that. But, I WILL dwell on the fact that the label art on this is a good looking Ram, no doubt created in the image of Rameses, the UNC mascot. That I can respect! And, this will round out the canned offerings from Top of the Hill. Feel free to stop into the restaurant for their more substantial list of draft beers – but, as for portable potables, this is all you’re gonna get!
The Ram’s Head is non-filtered but remarkably clear, and it’s a lovely ruby brown color with a rocky and persistent caramel head. The aroma of this beer is rich and malty with a good hop backbone. In the mouth, this beer is MUCH better than I recall from my hazy evenings at Top of the Hill! The initial sensation is of a rich sweetness that becomes sweeter and nearly cloying around the middle of the tongue. However, before things get out of hand, the hoppy goodness rears its head and brings a barrage of musty bitter hops to tackle the sweetness. The sweet aspects are nearly obliterated, and the bitterness commands the aftertaste and sticks with you for a long while after you swallow. Frankly, this is a great IPA, and much better than I had previously given it credit for. It wins big on all three aspects of appearance, aroma, and flavor. This is the first time I’ve purchased this in the portable can version, but certainly not the last. I’ll be glad to have a beer that I can enjoy at a tailgate while visually supporting UNC. Go Heels!
After a slight change with a New England Brewery offering and then a retro-beer, I have come back to a Butternuts Beer & Ale brew. This time it is their Heinnieweisse beer, which has a great can logo of wheat stalks surrounding a hop cone.
The beer, poured into a Weizen glass, had a quickly dissipated finger of white head. The body of the beer was a hazy yellow-orange with a nice amount of bubbles rising at a moderate pace from the bottom of the glass. The aroma of the beer was of slight black pepper, heavy clove and yeast, and a fair touch of lemon to round things off.
In the mouth, the beer’s body was light in feel with some bubble action on the tongue. For taste, the clove and yeast hit pretty hard towards the front and middle of the mouth, with a sour lemon taste following towards the back.
Though I found the clove and yeast to be a little bit much, I found this to be a pretty fair beer. I have had better hefeweizen, but I have also had worse. I could see myself enjoying a can of this around the grill or after a nice hike during the warmer months.
Unless you’re from the Chapel Hill area in North Carolina, you probably don’t have a clue what this beer is, and you probably shouldn’t. As far as I know, this beer doesn’t enjoy distribution anywhere beyond the cities immediately surrounding Chapel Hill – even there, it’s a limited distribution. Top of the Hill is a restaurant and brewery located on Franklin Street. It is, by many accounts, ground central to one of the country’s most revered college towns. And, on top of that, they happen to can two of their beers! So, this fits in well to our canned beer theme this week…
The Leaderboard Lager pours like most lagers – a clear light golden with a pillowy white head. The aroma of this is nearly nonexistent. It’s a very light smelling lager with just the lightest aroma of bready malt. In the mouth, this is definitely a malt-forward lager. The flavor is very light and refreshing with very little flavor initially. Around the middle of the mouth, though, there is a noticeable surge in bready sweetness that rides the wave down the throat and sticks around in the aftertaste. For a lager, this beer doesn’t wash especially clean, as the sweetness sticks in the back of the throat with a light syrupy texture. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I like a lager with some substance sometimes. Altogether, this looks and smells like any macro-brewed lager out there. However, the taste is clearly superior. It’s not super big or mindblowingly good. But, it IS a good lager with a light but pleasant flavor that easily beats out it’s canned competition in your supermarket aisle. While this isn’t a genre I’m crazy about, I have to admit that Top of the Hill does a good job with this one.
Since today is the “official birthday” of the beer can, I thought it would be interesting to review one of the styles of beers that was first canned, the cream ale style. Fortunately I was able to find Genesee Cream Ale in a can while on a recent trip to New Hampshire. This beer would probably fall more in the “retro-beer” type, since it was first brewed in 1960, rather than the “craft beer” type, but that is a slight deviation of the “beer can theme week” I am willing to live with.
The beer poured from the can into a pint glass gives a nice 2 fingers of pillowy white head, which ever so slowly dissipates into a thick covering that climbs the walls of the glass. The body of the beer is a clear, light yellow with a ton of little bubbles. I was quite amazed at the number and rate of bubbles, noting it looked like champagne (though in a pint glass).
The nose of the beer is rather one dimensional with the smell of fresh grain. This one dimensional aroma characteristic follows through into the taste with the taste of grain and little else. Though the mouthfeel of the beer was very light, it had a very smooth beginning and middle with some tingling at the back of the throat. I was surprised by this, having expected a mouthfeel that was going to be very active due to the amount of bubbles seen in the beer’s body.
For my first cream ale, I found this beer pleasant. I’ll admit I was not blown away by it and the beer is rather one dimensional, but I was expecting something along those lines. I am not about to go racing out to purchase more of it, but given the proper time and conditions I could see purchasing it again. I also find the history aspect of the beer to be interesting, being able to taste where American beer was a few decades back.
(To note Genesee is no longer brewed by Genesee Brewing Company, since they changed their name to High Falls Brewing Company in 2000. Ben reviewed a bunch of High Falls beers a while back.)
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…
Another day, another canned beer. Today I am moving away from Butternuts Beer and Ale and going with a brewery a little closer to home. New England Brewing is based out of Connecticut and has a line of three canned beers. Today I am going to tackle their Atlantic Amber.
First a quick note about the head for this beer. Though all the beers had sat in my beer fridge for at least a day, and all were handled the same way (ie I did not drop one or two by mistake), depending on which can I opened from the six pack the head varied greatly. Some cans had relatively no head (less then one finger), and others were bursting out of the can (three plus fingers of foam). Besides the variation in the head all the beers poured a dark red with some slight floating debris. For the beers with the greater head, there was definitely noticeable stickage once the foam had subsided down to a thin covering of small and medium sized bubbles.
The nose of the beer was a nice floral hop and caramel mixture, which got my mouth watering. In the mouth there was slight bitterness to the beer from the hops but this was nicely balanced with a sweet caramel and bread flavoring. The beer, which was light to medium in the mouth, had a nice refreshing and drying factor to it which I found very satisfying.
This is a good example of a quality beer found in a can. Definitely something that can be enjoyed in numerous places and occasions.
Continuing with the canned beer theme, and moving on to another Butternuts Beer and Ale release, I come to Porkslap Pale Ale. This is a beer brewed with ginger spices. Now I find ginger can be a tough spice to work with so lets see how this beer pans out.
A nice one finger of white head formed when I poured the beer into a pint glass. Very little stickage on the glass as the head receded to a thin covering with a few islands of big bubbles. The body of the beer was a nice clear copper color.
The nose of the beer was full of… at first I could not place it. It was neither malt nor hops, which are the ‘typical’ aromas of a pale ale, so I was a little nervous I got a bad beer. Unfortunately there was no information on the can about the beer, so I needed to hop on the Butternuts Beer and Ale web site. There I learned this pale ale is brewed with ginger spices. Now the aroma makes more sense. Along with the heavy aroma of ginger there was some bread aromas following it. I still did not notice any hop notes with the ginger taking center stage for my nose.
The taste is similar to the nose with ginger attacking the front and middle of the tongue. The end had a nice sweet/sugary bread flavoring to it which was quite nice. For some reason the taste seemed to get a little “watery” by the end of the beer. I’m not sure why and I know “watery” is not the most descriptive term, but that was the first description that popped into my head while tasting the beer.
Overall I enjoyed this beer, after I figured out I did not have a bad one. I think this is a case were the brewer would be advised to put a little more information about the beer on the can. I’m not sure I would take it as a session beer, because the ginger is quite strong, but I think it would be great with some spicy food (I’m personally thinking Thai, but anything with some good spicy kick should do). I would definitely pick up another six pack for a spicy food occasion.
(It probably goes without saying, but if you do not like the taste of ginger, I would advise passing on this beer.)
To start beer can week off I decided to go with Butternuts Beer and Ale‘s Snapperhead IPA. Butternuts actually has a few canned beers and I hope to review them through out the week. The “mascot” for this beer is a rather retro looking snapper fish. The fish seems to be wearing wrap around shades and listening to a Walkman. Interesting.
Anyway, poured from the can into a pint glass the beer was a amber orange with a slight haze to it. There was a single finger of head but it rapidly dissipated to a thin white covering. There was a heavy husky grain note to the aroma of the beer. Along with this huskiness, there was some hop notes with a slight lemon rind scent. In the mouth the beer had some nice bitterness to it, but there was also the overwhelming husky grain flavor predominating most of the mouth. I sensed some of the lemon towards the back of the mouth but nothing seemed to get past the grain flavoring.
I personally like my IPAs hoppier then this. The art of a good IPA is a nice balancing act between hops and malts, though if the balance gets skewed I’d rather it be skewed towards the hops. The malts in this brew just seemed to over power the hops with a grain taste. If you enjoy your IPAs more on malt side of the boarder, this beer should be right up your alley.
With January 24 the “official” birthday of the beer can, we here at sevenpack thought we would do a theme week of reviewing craft beer that comes from a can. Now craft canned beer is not as plentiful as bottled, but it is out there. One of the big promoters of craft canned beer is Oskar Blues. Sevenpack has already reviewed their Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub, and Gordon beers, but there are more breweries out there reaching for the can for their beers. In the coming week, we hope to review some of those beers.
If you want to help participate in this theme week, review a canned craft beer on your blog and either track back to this post or post a comment below with the review’s link. You can even include the “Beer Can Week” logo (as shown above) in your post if you want. The more reviews the merrier!
If you want to do a little more reading about the history of the beer can (and learn what the first canned beer was), the Brewery Collectibles Club of America has an interesting page delving into the subject.
Lew Bryson also posted a great read about canning in craft brew over at his First Draft column on portfolio.com.
Attention all beach goers – I’ve found your new favorite beach beer! First off, we all understand that wheat beers are the quintessential summer beer (okay, well at least I find this to be true). Secondly, you are probably aware that many beaches outlaw glass – this, therefore, outlaws the majority of good beers that come in glass bottles. Finally, we’ve all had that experience where a pesky beer gets too warm to be enjoyable in the sweltering sun (usually just happens with a domestic lager – those things are terrible warm). So, let’s summarize – the perfect beach beer needs to be wheat-based, canned, and in small enough portions to be drunk before warm.
Congratulations! I just found it!
This tasty treat is a delicious Belgian wheat ale that comes kindly packaged in 11.2 ounce cans of cool, tasty goodness. Now, it does also come in bottles – but, if you know where to look, you’ll find these cans, as well. For the sake of this review, I’ve poured this into a glass. However, I can tell you from experience that it also drinks well directly out of the can.
This pours a lovely light golden color that is very cloudy and has a slight but lasting head. The aroma of this is, honestly, nothing to write home about. It’s a little musty, slightly cardboard like, with just a hint of citrus. However, all this aroma nonsense is suprisingly made up for in the taste. This stuff tastes crisp and refreshing and delicious. The initial taste is quite biting on the tongue with a complementary citrus flavor. As this works its way through the mouth, it develops a light sweetness with hints of lemon juice and touch of orange. There also exists a soft malty flavor that evens everything out. Throughout the mouth, the beer maintains a light burn and a mild sourness that makes this very thirst quenching. So, it’s an interesting combination of sweet and sour and fruity and malt, but it all comes across very light and clean and leaves just a slighty residual flavor of citrus. All things said, I’m a huge fan of this beer. It isn’t the best wheat beer I’ve had, but it is very good. Also, as I’ve mentioned, it comes in cans, which I’m very happy about. And, by the way, did I mention that I only paid $5.99 for this 6-pack? I mean, it ain’t as cheap as PBR, but that’s a mighty fine deal for a quality brew.
For those of you who don’t know, Oskar Blues is notorious for the fact that they serve all of their beer in cans. This may not seems strange to those of you who generally drink Anheuser-Busch products. However, for those of you who are into the finer beers in life, this seems a bit strange. But, think about it, what is the best way to keep a beer airtight and away from light that can spoil the beer? That’s right folks, it’s a can. Plus, cans are great at barbeques and allowed on most beaches. Good thinking, Oskar Blues.
This beer, as far as I know, isn’t available in North Carolina. I managed to pick it up during a recent trip to Seattle. I am a ginormous fan of Oskar Blues beers, insomuch as I can find them, so I made a point to grab this up as soon as I spotted it. And, I expected a very big beer, judging from the $4.30/can pricetag, the 8.7% abv, and the description “Big, Red, Sticky”. Gordon doesn’t dissapoint.
The first thing you notice about this beer is its delectable aroma. The hops jump out in all their floral glory. There is a bit of malt here, but the hops just jump out of the can and attack the nose (in a goodway). The pour of this is a dark red, as expected from the description. It is slightly cloudy, but overall fairly clear. In the mouth, this beer is very hop-forward. Again, you can detect a bit of malt here, giving the beer just a slight sweetbread flavor. However, the hops are the big story and exist from the front of the mouth all the way to the aftertaste. These are apparently American hops – probably from the northwest – as is evident from the great floral characteristics and less-metallic bitterness. It makes for a big, fresh-tasting beer that I would rank up there with some of the best hoppy ambers out there. This could even pass for an IPA in a pinch. All-in-all, this is a great beer, and one I’d love to drink over and over were it not for the big pricetag.
Another CANNED BEER. It’s quite a gimmick these folks at Oskar Blues Brewery have, but it seems to work. After all, you can’t take glass onto a lot of beaches, and there is a certain charm to drinking out of a can when you’re tailgating or BBQ’ing in the backyard. These folks seem to understand that, and they give you a damn fine beer to do it with. The pour of the Old Chub is motor-oil dark with a fairly transient caramel head. The aroma smells strongly of dark chocolate and caramel. In the mouth, this beer is extremely flavorful. The flavor is sweet and malty and seems to be in the vein of the Scottish ‘wee-heavy’ style. There are tons of caramel and dark malts in this beer. Light hints of coffee mingle with sweet dark chocolate that is especially prevalent at the back of the mouth. A great beer, and fairly strong at 8% abv. I can’t say whether this is better or worse than the Dale’s Pale Ale, because they are both so different. But, I can say without reserve that both Dale’s Pale and Old Chub are the best canned beers I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Too bad that neither of these beers are priced like can beer. At about $8 per 6-pack, they can put a dent in the wallet. But, in my opinion, it’s money well spent.
It’s a CANNED BEER. Previously, I thought that a Tecate was probably the highest quality canned brew that you could find. But, the Oskar Blues Brewery out of Lyons, Colorado has certainly proven me wrong. I have heard the buzz about these canned beers for some time, but they only just arrived in the old North state. This beer pours a very dark amber, and is really darker than I ever expect from a pale ale. The aroma is heavy and meaty – again, a little more intense than a normal pale ale. Perhaps similar to a Sierra Nevada, only with bigger balls. Then, there’s the taste – this is a really, really good beer. Upon entering the mouth, the flavor literally overtakes the palate. It is pale and bitter at the front, but simultaneously malty and sweet at the back corners of the mouth. There is a full mouthfeel with not-too-much carbonation. Down the throat, the flavor continues to develop and wash over the tastebuds for a very invigorating drink. I would say this is one of the better and more robust pale ales that I have had the pleasure of drinking, and certainly the best beer I have ever tasted from a can.