Archive for May, 2006
Okay – first of all, let me temper this by saying that I don’t REALLY enjoy barleywine-style ales. Granted, I’ve had a couple in the past (Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn) that made me change the way I felt. But, I’ve had a lot more that have reinforced my relative disdain for this style (I say ‘relative’ because, let’s face it, a bad beer is still a good drink, and a barleywine ale usually has at least 9-10% abv, and that can’t be all bad). Anyway, on to the review. This barleywine ale comes with no big surprises. it pours a rosy amber and smells heavily of alcohol and brown sugar. The beer is rather viscous and the flavor is heavy with a syrupy sweetness and hints of anise. Down the throat it lingers and burns slightly, ending with just a hint of the anise at the back of the throat. So, overall, it’s a rather plain barleywine style ale. Fans of the varietal might enjoy this, but I probably won’t buy it again, as there are certainly better interpretations out there. On the high side, it feels pretty high in alcohol, but the abv isn’t advertised, so I can’t verify this.
This is, quite possibly, the best fruit beer I have ever had. It isn’t quite a lambic – it lacks the intense carbonation and sourness that lambics generally impart. Also, it isn’t simply a ‘fruit beer’ on the caliber of a Blue Dog Ale or a Strawberry Blonde. Rather, the fruit really becomes the beer – The pour is a deep ruby red and is slightly cloudy. The aroma explodes with raspberry – literally like smelling a bushel of raspberries – it’s terribly pleasant. The initial taste in the mouth is quite sweet becoming slightly tart at the back of the mouth. The sweetness isn’t syrupy or overbearing. Rather, it is crisp and refreshing and doesn’t seem to get old. The aftertaste maintains some of the tartness on the sides of the mouth. This is absolutely great – a fabulous summertime beer and one both the ladies and the fellas will enjoy.
I think that Sierra Nevada sometimes gets a bad rap amongst beer nerds, due to the fact that they produce beer in larger quantities than many of their micro-brew counterparts. But hold up just a second! Dig deep! Have you never enjoyed a good Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? And seriously, who doesn’t dig some of their seasonal ales. Whether you like to admit it or not, I’ll bet that Sierra Nevada was a sizeable stepping stone to becoming the beer nerd you are today. They were for me. This is why I was very excited to see the new Sierra Nevada INDIA Pale Ale in stores today. I rushed right home and popped it open. First of all, I don’t think it stands up to the standard Pale Ale – Sierra Nevada makes the best available Pale Ale on the market, if you ask me, and so that’s asking a lot. In general, though, this is a good beer. It pours a dark copper, and smells of musky hops. The taste is hoppy, but slightly metallic – I understand that this is a by-product of some hops, but I still don’t dig it – I prefer floral hops. The flavor continues slightly metallic through the mouth and finishes easy. It’s quite hoppy, but not overbearing – certainly designed for a more mainstream market. Overall, I think this is a great beer, and if I saw it in my local bar, I’d drink it. But, again, Sierra Nevada set a high bar with their Pale Ale, and this hasn’t quite surpassed it.
First of all, I have never been disimpressed with an Avery beer. In fact, they are turning out to be one of my very favorite American breweries. That being said, the Maharaja continues the trend. This IIPA is burly! It uses a different hop than I am accustomed to in an IIPA – it is more tangy than the normal and has a very pungent leafy aroma. In the throat, it smacks your tongue in the face (or, it would, if you had a face on your tongue). It burns the roof of the mouth and travels through the throat quickly, leaving a blazing trail of hop behind. Off-setting this hopiness is a huge malt base as well. The odd part is how they don’t necessarily mélange – rather, both the hop and malt flavors seem very unique in the mouth. Add to all this the gorgeous ruby color and you have a real winner. Quite complex, and highly recommended.
Ephemere was my first taste from the Unibroue Brewery out of Canada. I first tasted this beer at the 2005 World Beer Festival in Durham – and this was before the 6% cap was lifted. Although my mind-state was arguably tattered at the time, I found this to be a great beer. However, it is, by all accounts, a niche beer – so I don’t drink it THAT often. Quite rarely, actually. The pour of the beer is a clear and effervescent dull golden. In the aroma and taste, the primary component is apple. The aroma is of sweet apples. In the mouth, the beer is remarkably crisp and sweet with a heavy taste of apples. Down the throat and in the aftertaste the sweetness remains with just a hint of sourness, almost like an apple jolly rancher. This is one of the most unique and refreshing beers out. Almost more of a champagne. Feed this to your special lady – she’ll like it.
I haven’t yet had a bad beer from the Stone Brewery, and I didn’t expect this would be any exception. I was pleasantly, um, not surprised. Unsurprised. It was about right.
This beer pours a dark brown, and is not terribly viscous. Similarly, the head is nearly non-existant. The smell of the beer is excellent, full of lots of dark chocolate. In the mouth, the beer is smooth, but substantial. The flavors are there of dark chocolate and some dark fruit, mostly cherries. Also, there is a smoky overtone, as the name implies, that pervades the entire flavor of the beer. Down the throat, the bittersweetness of the chocolate disappears, leaving only a hint and a more pronounced flavor of smoke. Overall, I would say this is one of the better porters I have had, and one I would certainly enjoy again. As a note, though, I would recommend enjoying this around British room temperature, and not straight from an ice-cold fridge. Granted, this tastes good very cold, but it loses much of it’s flavor. The sweetness and complexity really come to the front with the addition of a few degrees.
I feel like I’m approaching the last of the Belgian Tripels, so now I’m just reaching for anything on the shelf if I can read the word “Tripel” somewhere. This one also comes from beer country in Belgium, and is fairly good. The color is a very clear golden with a quickly dissipating white head. The aroma is fairly sweet, but quite subtle. The flavor of this beer took me by surprise. It trades in a great deal of the typical tripel spiciness for an interesting grainy flavor. Spiciness is hardly evident. Instead, there is a delicate sweetness with a lot of grain. Upon noticing this taste, I see that the bottle boasts that this is a “3 grain” ale made with oats, barley, and wheat – very interesting. This is pretty good, if you are into unique tripels. Probably not my favorite, but unique and pleasant.
This particular brew comes from a limited release offering from Anderson Valley – and, there seem to be two in this series, the Double and the Triple. I’ve had ‘em both – I’ll tell you about one of them now.
This double pours dark, but fairly opaque – it’s a nice tint and a good color. The aroma is typical of a good Belgian dubbel – roasted with hints of dark fruit. The taste of the beer is very pleasant. You can taste lots of dark fruit, lots of malt, and a slight twang of sweet/sour that sets it apart. Combine this with a solid abv of around 9% and you have a beer that is successful on all fronts. Overall, I would say that this American interpretation of the Belgian dubbel is excellent – I would certainly have this again, and I would likely choose it over many of its Belgian counterparts.
It has been a while since there has been any appreciable activity on Sevenpack. My personal neglect has been due to a dead laptop that rendered me unable to do much posting over the past couple of weeks. However, in response to Matty stepping up to the plate with a new review, I figured I would take the steps necessary to make a contribution. Fortunately, I chose a damn fine beer to do it with.
The Stone Imperial Russian Stout is a limited release spring seasonal beer and, according to the beer nerd at Once Upon a Vine in Richmond, VA, they can’t keep the stuff on the shelves (sold 12 cases in the first day!). For this reason, I recommend that anyone who can find the stuff go out and buy at least one bottle. This beer pours extremely viscous with a rocky brown head. The aroma is strong and complex – there are hints of chocolate, black currant, and anise, to name a few. In the mouth, you are immediately hit with a heavy roasted flavor blended with dark fruit and dark chocolate. This also comes well-complimented with a notable flavor of alcohol. All of this blends to make an extremely decadent flavor that lasts through the mouth and sticks around with an aftertaste of roasty anise. Great beer – one to be savored slowly. If you can’t find this, it is comparable to, though better than, the Old Rasputing Russian Stout from North Coast Brewing Co. Also, if you’re just interested in the alcohol content, this stuff won’t disappoint at 10.8% abv.
Avery typically makes a relatively good beer and this is no exception. The White Rascal, 5.6% abv, is a belgian-style wheat ale which basically means it’s a white ale. The pictiure of the albino devil on the lablel is quite scary, however, the taste is not. In my opinion this ale is sweetened and carbonated in perfect combination. Its flavor is comprised of citrus and coriander, and for what it’s worth I bought and finished the six-pack. I typically try a few of one beer and then dip into my stash, but I enjoyed this beer so much that I couldn’t leave any leftovers. This beer would be a fantastic addition to any “Bar-B-Q” or afternoon drinking session and I highly recommend that you taste it at least once. Koodos to the Avery Brewing Company, you have broken my streak of disappointing beers. I would rate it an 8.7, a relatively arbitrary number to most, but as far as I’m concerned it is in my top 15.