Archive for the 'Amber' category
When I think Stone Brewing, I think hops… Big hops… Taste annihilating hops! Then I came across Stone Levitation at a local bar. Though it has been out since 2002, Levitation has only recently been released here in Massachusetts. I am glad it has, because I enjoyed this beer immensely.
In the pint glass sat a clear, dark amber bodied beer, with a two finger, white, frothy head atop. This head had longevity too, staying around for multiple minutes and still only receding to a half-finger full covering. This head retention allowed excellent time to in-hale the beer’s aroma. There is definitely a hop presence with nice citrus notes, but I am not blown away by them. There is also a nice mixing of malt and bread in the aroma.
The taste of the beer is rather complex. The hops start things off with a delectable citrus note, but progress to a mixed citrus and mildly earthy flavoring. In the middle of this flavor progression another flavor makes itself known, one with a light malt and grain profile. As the beer warms this malt profile starts to gain a caramel sweetness dimension. Though by no means pronounced, the caramel does make an appearance.
When the beer is done, which will be too soon because it is too good, the glass is a beautiful display of heavy lacing, with amazing stratification all the way down the glass.
The great thing about this beer, besides its enjoyable complexity, refreshing nature, and great taste, is the fact you will be able to fully taste the next one you order.
Today from the Beer of the Month Club, we have an offering from the Western part of our fair land, and our first entry from the Grand Teton Brewing Company. This is a fairly straightforward genre – an amber ale, and looks to be their flagship brew.
The Teton Ale pours a clear but exceptionally deep amber tone with a rocky caramel head that flares up, only to dissipate into small off-white islands floating around the surface of the beer. In the nose, there are predominantly rich malt flavors of caramel and toffee with just a hint of aniseed bite. In the mouth, this is a rich and sweet amber ale. Again, we get a ton of toffee flavors, some aniseed bitterness, and just a hint of hop bite. Surprisingly, the mouthfeel of this beer is smooth, thin, and washes fairly clean. In contrast, the flavor is thick and rich and almost cloying. It’s a pretty good amber really. The flavor is bigger than most, and, though the texture washes very clean, the flavor sticks around for quite some time after the beer disappears. So, consider this a beer on the lighter side of dessert-style ambers. A mighty tasty brew, perhaps worthy of the grandiose mountain range it’s meant to represent.
Last but not least from the BMOC is this ditty from France. It’s an amber ale brewed with chestnut flour. Huh?!? Sounds strange but when it comes to beer I’m up for anything. First thing’s first, this doesn’t look like an amber. As a matter of fact there’s nothing amber about it. No deep copper-reddish hue, instead it’s golden. The aroma is strange as well. It is uber sour, the twinge dances around in the nose. I can’t help but wonder what is going on here because again these characteristics aren’t adding up to what I know is an amber. Right not I’m thinking pilsner-esque. The overall taste is bitter and metallic. This transforms into a grape-like sweetness and then transforms again into a hint of sourness that carries over from the smell which makes for a really weird experience. It’s crisp and refreshing, for the most part, but the taste seems to collect on the back of the throat, and by collect I mean thicken. There it has a subtle creamy characteristic and now I’m completely confused. I don’t know what to make of this beer. First of all it’s unlike any amber I’ve ever had AND the flavors aren’t harmonious to say the least. The fact is this beer certainly has some good points but they are counteracted by absolute weirdness. So, I will say it’s interesting, it’s definitely not a beer I would seek out but I would drink it on rare occasions just for something different.
This week finds me in the bustling metropolis of Houston, TX. As such, I deemed it prudent to pick up a sixer of a native Texas brew. Now, I know there are probably other more adventurous Texas beers out there. However, seeing as I’m stuck downtown without a car, I gotta take whatever the local bodega carries, and so that leaves me with the Saint Arnold Amber.
This beer pours a rather light amber color, super clear with a dense off-white head that sticks around only briefly, settling into a slim ring around the edge of the glass pretty quickly. In the nose, there are some medium malty sweet aromas and a bit of caramel. It isn’t overwhelming, but is mostly bready and sweet. In the mouth, the predominant presence here is malt. On the tip of the tongue, there is a blast of tasty sweetbread. This travels through the mouth becoming a bit deeper in flavor and introducing some richer caramel cream flavors. There is just a hint of hop here that presents a tad bit of metallic bitterness, but it doesn’t stick around long. Down the throat, this metallic bitterness actually rears it’s head again, leaving me with an aftertaste that is fairly bitter, considering how this beer performed through the mouth. All in all, it’s a medium amber that is flavorful but very drinkable. This could definitely be a session beer, but it’s pretty nice as a one-off, too!
For the big game yesterday, the Bruins/Canadiens game that is, I decided to give Troëgs Hop Back Amber Ale a shot. Troëgs has recently started distributing up around me (so recent their website does not even list MA distribution), and they have hit the ground running. I have noticed a fare selection of their beers on tap in a couple of bars, and I ran across this six pack of Hop Back Amber pretty easily. (Since the date is prominently displayed on each bottle in the pack, I know this six pack was bottled on 01-22-09. A very nice feature!)
Poured into my pint glass the beer was a rich amber and perfectly clear. A finger of chunky off-white head topped the beer off. The beer had little carbonation, so the head dissipated to a mere scattering of bubbles after a few eager sips.
Eager sips due to the aroma of the beer. A nice spice hop character, with an equally mixed presence of caramel malt. Very enticing to say the least.
The beer hits the tongue with a nice presence. There are heavier beers out there, but you definitely realize you are drinking a beer, and you are not left wondering “did I take a sip?”. The aforementioned caramel malt character is present through most of the mouth. The malt also provides a nice and light bread note to the flavor, so it is not a one dimensional malt flavor. Just when I begin to wonder where the hops I smelled are, they hit me. Right at the back of the mouth the hops mount their spice and pine hop flavor attack. From the back they seem to march forward through the whole mouth, wiping out the earlier malt flavors.
This is not a beer for those wary of hops. The hops make their presence known, and towards the end of the session, almost become overpowering. The malt however makes a valiant and noble effort to stand-up to such flavor. Slightly unbalanced towards the hops, but not by much. I enjoyed the beer, so I am definitely happy Troëgs has started distributing around me, and I look forward to future products.
(I just noticed Ben’s review of Troëgs Nugget Nectar and it seems Troëgs likes to make the ‘hoppy amber’ style.)
Another beer from Cape Ann Brewing passed through the tap lines of a local bar a few weeks back. Since I am working on expanding our Cape Ann Brewing reviews, I thought I would give the beer a shot.
The beer was on cask and the menu noted it was dry hopped with Sorachi Ace from Japan. I see an Amber listed on Cape Ann Brewing’s website (Fisherman’s Brew) but there is no mention of its hopping. I am unsure if this dry hopped Amber is a “special” beer or not. Once I get my hands on some Fisherman Brew in bottles, I will update this post as necessary.
In a pint glass the beer pours a clear amber with a nice white head. The aroma is very interesting and inviting. Hints of lemon citrus, earth and vegetables (sliced Bell Peppers) all play together quite nicely. In the mouth the beer is quite light on the tongue. A mixture of earth, orange, sugar sweetness, and bread go well together for tastes. A dry, slight bitterness finishes the beer off.
The beer would make a very good session beer with its subtle tastes and 4.5% abv. All around an enjoyable, and interesting beer from Cape Ann Brewing.
Once again, Magic Hat has graced us with a couple of bottles of their seasonal hits for this winter. We always love getting prizes in the mail like this, we love seeing the latest that brewers are coming up with, and we’re more than happy to write down a few thoughts. This time around, we received a bottle of the Roxy Rolles, a hoppy amber ale that we’ve seen on shelves lately, but haven’t until now had the opportunity to try.
This beer pours a lovely deep amber color that is just slightly hazy, but not what one would call messy. There is a thin caramel head that starts off dense and fairly thick, but eventually settles into a very thin film. In the nose, there is substantial hop here – the hop isn’t especially floral, but smells rather more metallic and noble in nature. In the mouth, this is just what it claims to be – a hoppy amber ale. I’m impressed by the high levels of both hop and malt that tend to play together fairly well. The beer has enough carbonation to shock the tongue a bit initially, and the flavor then immediately flows into a melange of bitter and sweetbread flavors. These flavors intermingle and last into the aftertaste, the hop being the last to disappear. Overall, I think this is a pretty well-executed beer. As you folks may know, I’m a bigger fan of the floral West coast hops, which these are not. For this reason, I can’t give it the highest personal marks, but that’s just a matter of opinion. All in all, I’d say Magic Hat has done decent with this one, and it should find a few fans out there…
This beer pours a murky copper, almost amber color. Hmmm, I just saw this beer’s genre “hoppy amber ale”, I guess it is more amber than copper. This is one of the mustiest smelling beers I’ve had in a while. WOW! It goes way past floral and earthy. The hoppiness is quite apparent the moment it hits your lips. The floral flavors ease onto the tongue and then suddenly jump to the top of the mouth. Here they hang as the toasted malt emerges and then they let go and tumble down the throat. This beer has a crescendo-decrescendo quality to it. There is a mild metallic aftertaste but nothing offsetting. I’ve been pretty critical of Magic Hat in the past but this beer isn’t half bad.
The beer pours a rich, deep amber and the smells of hops hit me right off the bat. Pine sap is quite present but there is a milder sweet, tropical fruit note to the aroma’s finish. The beer has a medium, smooth mouthfeel with a pretty big hop profile in the taste, with the pine notes taking center stage. Initially the malt provides a good counter balance to this hop profile. However, there is a definite aftertaste of pine and the pine taste seems to grow through out the tasting. This growing of the pine leads to the malt being over powered, leading to a slight unbalancing by the end of the drink. I enjoy a good hoppy drink, so I had no issue with this beer, even with its unbalancing act at the end, but other people’s mileage may vary.
Who would’ve thought SevenPack would be genuinely interested in writing a real review from AB? By that I mean, not just going through the motions and ultimately putting forth mediocre effort for a mediocre brew. These same sentiments aren’t solely resigned to AB but extend to Miller, Coors and any other brewery that makes beer suitable for beer pong. I will say that this isn’t the first time I’ve had this beer, I was introduced at the preseason Hurricanes hockey game. Ben and I gave it a shot and turns out we actually enjoyed it.
This beer has a clear, clean, copper hue and creates a moderate amount of head. Holy crap it actually smells like something other than plain ‘ol beer. The smell has crisp floral tones and a slight sweetness. The hop characteristics carry over into the taste, which are more noticeable at the front of the mouth. Carbonation is more apparent in the middle of the mouth and seems to take center stage, although it does carry the floral flavors into the nose via the upper palate. I remember this beer having more of a malt backbone than I am experiencing right now, as a matter of fact I’m not picking up on much at all. I get the sense that there is some dark fruit flavor that wants to emerge but for whatever reason they are subdued. I have to tell you, this beer was much better from the tap than from the bottle. I have poured it in one of the Sam Adams specialty glasses but it doesn’t compare to draft (obviously). This beer is light and very drinkable but the carbonation I’m getting right now makes it hard from me to say it has a mild mouthfeel. This does improve as the beer warms. I don’t want to back track on what I’ve already said but along with the warmth I’m getting some “roastiness” in the back of the mouth rather than the mild sweetness I talked about earlier. I’m feeling a little let down right now due to my first experience but upon further reflection I have to give credit where credit is due. This beer has a personality, and thus I have to say good job AB. This can certainly serve as a session beer, so if you’re looking to shake it up at your next tailgate pick up the American Ale instead of the usual “light/lite” option.
On, this our 800th review here at SevenPack, it seems only right that we should get back to our roots and have a taste of something local to the Dirty D. That’s why I popped open a tasty bottle of the Triangle Brewing Company Imperial Amber Ale, brewed right here in Durham, NC.
The Imperial Amber pours a very deep cloudy amber color with substantial dense debris and a caramel head that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving only a thin layer on the surface of the beer. The aroma is rich and malty with heavy doses of caramel and some sweet bready tints with a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, the beer first displays a semi-sharp bitterness on the tip of the tongue. Through the mouth, this bitterness grows and spreads to the side of the mouth, making way for sweetbread and aniseed that begins to develop around the center of the mouth, giving rise to a better balanced blend of the bitter and the sweet. In addition, this has a very substantial mouthfeel, with the texture and the flavor spreading all over the mouth. As the beer continues to the back of the mouth, the predominant presence is bitter and rich and earthy. However, you’ll notice that the flavor has a tendency to slide down the scale towards a sweeter beer as the glass warms to room temperature. For my taste, this could stand to have a bit more sweetness all around. However, I must concede that this beer does taste complex and refined, and it certainly has it’s place amongst some of the bigger Amber ales out there in the market. So, overall, I’m impressed, although this won’t become the first of Triangle’s offerings that I reach for. While it hasn’t been reviewed here yet, I confess that between Triangle’s Belgian Golden Ale and Big Boss’s Hell’s Belle on draft at the local pubs, you could probably account for 60% of my beer intake this season. In addition, I quite enjoyed the Habanero Xtra Pale Ale and brewer’s talk at the World Beer Fest last weekend. So, suffice it to say that I’m a huge fan of Triangle and I’m super-excited to see what else they bring to the table in the coming months!
Honestly, the only reason I picked up this beer is because it is from Boone, a place near and dear to my heart. I spent many a day of my adolescence scraping down the slopes of Boone trying to be the next X-Gamer. Unfortunately, I later learned that A) I ain’t all that on a snowboard and B) Sugar Mountain is pretty dang small. Oh well, it’s still a cool town, and I’m very happy to support the local breweries.
This ale pours a dark golden color with just hints of ruby when the light hits it just right. The head on this is slim and white and floats around in tiny islands on the surface of the beer. The aroma here is quite rich with hints of maple. In the mouth, this seems to be a rich version of a traditional amber ale. The beer initially seems light and smooth in the front of the mouth, but the flavor quickly heightens with flavors of maple, brown sugar, and dark sweetbread. In addition, towards the back of the mouth, we get some light hints of licorice and just a bit of hop bitterness. This is actually a very rich and very tasty amber ale. It is rich, sweet, and bitter, all in turn. I can’t actually recall what this beer costs, but I feel like it’s less than $8 for the six-pack and, at that price, it tastes more expensive than it is. I believe this is currently the only packaged offering from the Boone Beer Company, but it says great things about the brand, and I’m hoping this takes off so we can see what they do with some more adventurous genres!
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.
Howdy y’all. Sadly, I’m back in Georgia now, which means a severe lack of quality beers to pick up. Given that situation, I’ve been trying to pick up a few of the more common American craft brews that we’ve sadly neglected here on SevenPack. That’s what brings me to the Old Scratch. This’ll nearly round out our selection of year-round Flying Dog beers, with the exception of the In-Heat Wheat – I’ll try to pick that one up soon, as it IS summertime and it’d be a good beer for the occasion.
The Old Scratch pours a crisp, clear medium amber color with a quickly dissipating off-white head that completely disappears within a few seconds. The aroma here is very full of dark malt. It also has a nice spiciness to it with some light butterscotch hints and maybe even a bit of cinnamon. In the mouth, this is a fairly typical amber. Initially, there is some sweetbread sweetness. This sweetness goes from light to quite rich by the center of the tongue, as the bready flavors coat the tongue and some flavors of caramel and spice give this a much fuller taste. By the back of the mouth, sweet maltiness covers the entirety of the mouth, and there comes a quick tangy blast at the back of the throat before the beer disappears, leaving only the sweetbread aftertaste that lasts for probably 10-15 seconds. Again, this is a pretty typical amber, although I must say that it’s a bit richer. It’s surprisingly rich for something in a small bottle that you can find on the shelves of most any supermarket. For this pricepoint, I’d say it’s a decent bargain, although I also find Killians to be a pretty decent beer for considerably cheaper. However, to be honest, this is really in a different league when it comes to robustness, so go ahead and spend a couple more bucks if you’re in a decadent mood.
Alright, folks, it’s that time again – time to pit multitudinous beers in a head-to-head grudge match to see who comes out on top!
Okay… Sorry, this time it’s only two beers. BUT, I’m pretty excited about it. I noticed the St. Rogue Red Ale on the shelf recently. This is a great beer, and one I’ve enjoyed, but one we’ve never reviewed here on SevenPack. However, I was rather excited to also see its burly bigger brother, the Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red, sitting on the shelf beside it. To me, this is a totally new beer – never heard of it. Furthermore, any beer that is dry hopped and offers the promise of a big hoppy flavor in the face of our current hop shortage…. well…. that excites me. So, here at SevenPack Central, I’ve popped a bottle of each, and I aim to compare them side by side.
First of all, the standard Red. This beer pours a clear, medium amber color that sparkles in the light. It has an unusually rich pillowy head in a medium caramel hue. Honestly, the Dry Hopped Red looks just about the same (no big surprise). However, it does dawn on me that the head on the Dry Hopped Red (DHR) isn’t quite as fluffy, and the bubbles seem a bit less dense.
The aroma of these two beers couldn’t be in starker contrast. The aroma of the Red is rich with the smell of caramel and tints of horehound candy. It prepares you for a dessertish beer and is really quite decadent. The DHR, however, is a straight-up hop bomb! Nearly all of the richness is lost on the scent, only to be overtaken by the aroma of handfuls of sticky wet hops. This isn’t an aroma I’ve gotten much of lately, due to the hop shortage, but it sure is nice. This is apparently Chinook and Centennial hops, which gives it some decent floral notes along with a heavy metallic bitterness. It’s interesting just how heavy-handed the hops are here, as they almost completely obliterate the original beer scent.
In the mouth, these are both delicious beers, and both for quite different reasons. The Red begins in the mouth with flavors of sweet caramel and just a hint of licorice. Through the mouth, the beer picks up notes of rich dark malt, making this very decadent for a red ale. There isn’t much hop here. Rather, the richness washes through the mouth with a fairly light mouthfeel and then down the throat, leaving a light caramel aftertaste, but altogether washing pretty clean. The DHR, on the other hand, blasts us with a sharp and almost abrasive hop flavor. On the way to the mouth, we’re already getting tons of hop on the nose. As soon as the beer hits the tongue, we get a bitter blast of floral hop. Again, it’s shocking and reminds me of the beers I was drinking about a year ago – very delicious. On down the tongue, most of the richness we saw in the standard version is missing. I can detect hints of dark malt around the middle of the tongue, but the hop just comes roaring back at the back of the mouth, kicking a huge hop flavor up the throat and well into the nasal cavity. Basically, we end up with an extremely hoppy red ale – one that was great without the hop, and loses a lot of subtlety in the dry-hopped version. But, when it tastes this good, who can complain? The nearest comparison I can draw is against Oskar Blues’ Gordon, another great hoppy red ale.
When all is said and done, these are both great beers. I’m loving them both right now, and I’m excited to finish both of these bottles. However, it IS amazing how much difference a handful of dry-hop can make. Both of these beers are fairly well-balanced in flavor, although there is no question that the DHR takes a definite brute-force approach when compared to the subtle standard Red. It does beg the question of whether or not you can just cover up a bad ale with a blast of hop and still make it acceptable. In this case, the original and final product are both winners. But, in a lesser beer, who knows?
Anyway, this was a good experiment, and one I’m glad to have performed. If you can get your hands on either of these, go for it. If you can get both, do that, too. They only ring in at about $3/each and it’s well worth the money to have the lesson in hop-bombing…
Next up is the Boulevard Irish Ale, a seasonal offering from these folks.
This beer pours a very dark amber hue with some light debris, which makes this much deeper and more intimidating than most Irish ales out there. In addition, there is a thin, swirling caramel head that floats around on the surface of the beer. In the nose, this beer has a caramel-cream sweetness, which is again a unique feature. So far, this beer seems darker, stormier, and sweeter than most Irish reds, and we haven’t even tasted it yet!
In the mouth, this beer more or less lives up to the hype. There is a very rich sweetness that has aspects of dark malt and caramel cream candies. In addition, we get a light hop presence on the back of the tongue that adds some off-setting bitterness that just keeps this from tasting like a dessert beer. In addition, there are some earthy tones that seem to swirl around the sides of the mouth, and stick around in the aftertaste long after the bitter and sweet flavors have had their say. This is a pretty big beer – certainly bigger than the vast majority of Irish red ales. If I were really in the mood for an Irish red, there are many beers I’d sooner reach for. However, I can honestly say that this is a tastier beer than most of them. However, the extra sweetness makes this a divergence from the typical style. So, if you’re in the mood for a dessert-ish Irish red, this will be a great beer for you. However, if you want something a bit more typical, go grab a Killians.
There are a couple of interesting things about the Finnegan’s Ale. The first thing that strikes me is that this is an amber ale made with potatoes – a little odd, but very Irish. Secondly, Finnegan’s gives every cent of the profit from their beers to charity. So, regardless of flavor, this beer is starting out on a good foot with me with those couple points of originality.
The Finnegan’s pours a rather light amber color – light relative to other beers of the genre. This beer does not, in fact, smell like a plate of mashed potatoes. Rather, it has a rather typical amber aroma, with some dark bready aromas and a hint of spice. It is, however, a bit less rich than some ambers I’ve encountered, and I’m getting just a touch of cinnamon. In the mouth, this beer is good, but it IS a bit different. Again, there are some sweet dark bready flavors here. In addition, there is some spice. However, the predominant presence here is an interesting twang that hits around the middle of the mouth. The twang is sweet and sour and, in fact, a little ‘meaty’. Perhaps this is the dash of potato talking, but it comes across with this flavor that, while exotic for an amber ale, overall gives this beer a less rich flavor, making it a bit crisper and maybe even more accessible than a typical amber. Granted, it’s quite different from most amber ales I’ve had, but I quite like it. I’d be interested to hear other opinions on this beer, as I could see it being somewhat divisive amongst amber fans…