Archive for August, 2007
Third up on this month’s batch from Beer of the Month Club is the Wild Goose India Pale Ale from Maryland. We all know that I love a good IPA, but I traditionally prefer the northwest US varieties and shy away from strict English varieties. However, I can appreciate what the English hops have to offer, so let’s seek what we’ve got!
This one pours a very rich golden/amber with just a bit of haziness. The aroma of the Wild Goose is actually very heavy on the malt and caramel and a bit light on the hops. It’s a pleasant and rich aroma, while not what I immediately expect from an IPA. In the mouth, this is about what I expect from the aroma. There is quite a bit of malt and a substantial background of toffee flavoring. However, don’t think that there isn’t any hop here. There is quite a hop kick that hits about the middle of the mouth. These hops are of the traditional English variety – they’re bitter, metallic, and musty, as opposed to the floral hops we find more often stateside. What we end up with is an IPA that has characteristics of a UK IPA, but kicks in an extra dose of sweet malt. This leaves us with an IPA that is exceptionally rich, while not quite as refreshing or crisp as some. Honestly, this borders between a Pale Ale and an Indian Pale Ale, if you ask me. Even on the label, they downplay the “India” verbage, and the “Pale Ale” labelling is the predominant factor. So, perhaps Wild Goose brewed this, realized it wasn’t quite as “Indian” as they’d hoped, and then adjusted the labelling accordingly. Regardless, it’s a good brew once you know what you’re getting.
Second up from the Beer of the Month Club is the Klaster lager from the Czech Republic. Now, my understanding is that this lager is monastery-brewed and cave-aged for some time, all of which is rather odd for a lager. That, and the fact that I’ve never tasted this, makes me rather excited.
This beer actually pours a darker hue than I expected – it’s clear with a dark golden or caramel color – very rich in appearance. The aroma of this lager is certainly richer than most lagers, consisting of a rich bready aroma coupled with a slightly tangy sweetness in the background, which leaves me anxious to taste the brew. However, it turns out that the taste has little to do with the aroma. The flavor of this is complex and musty. You can tell it’s a lager, but there’s a lot more going on than I’m accustomed to. The predominant flavor here comes from the malt – there are lots of caramel flavored bready malts involved that give this a very rich flavor with a full mouthfeel. On top of this, there is this twinge of tangy sweetness that hints around near the middle of the mouth but doesn’t really come to fruition until the aftertaste where it attaches to the base of the tongue and sticks around for a while. Also, the whole beer tastes just a bit ‘musty’. I’m not sure how to explain it, but you can almost sense the cave-ageing involved in this beer. It doesn’t taste old, per se, but it tastes as though it’s been sitting around in a dark place mellowing for quite a while. Overall, I would consider this an interesting beer. This is not a beer I’d reach for when in the mood for a typical lager. However, if you’re feeling experimental and want something a tad different, then this certainly isn’t bad. It’s like an American lager with a quirky eastern-European-monk touch.
I bought this beer at the nuptials of the Kanipes back in May in the great state of Ken-tuck. Many of the bottles were consumed throughout the weekend but one was saved so that the readers of sevenpack could read, firsthand, what I think. I know you’re terribly excited and so I won’t dilly-dally any longer.
The Pere Jacques is a hazy, copper-colored beer. The head is insignificant as it doesn’t stick around very long and has no bearing on whether or not I like this brew. I’m drinking it out of the special Sam Adams glass, and not one of my chalices. it probably doesn’t matter one iota but I kinda feel as if I am doing this beer a disservice by using an “inappropriate” serving glass. If anyone knows if this really matters let me know, because I want to get the most out of each and every drinking experience…The smell is cherry sweet with a bit of liquorice. The aroma carries over into the taste with an added hint of nut. There is a mild carbonation burn, with little hop presence, and a pronounced sweet maltiness. I feel as if the taste collects more at the front of the tongue than in the back of the mouth. This beer is both simple and complex, subtle and bold. I am a fan of this beer. It’s rather big at 9% abv so it isn’t anthing you want to play around with but certainly a beer you could enjoy at a leisurely pace.
With labor day quickly approaching, the question of what beer to have on hand comes to mind. I’m looking at some Haverhill Brewery Leather Lips IPA, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, Paper City Blond Hop Monster, and some Saison Dupont (what can I say, there was a good deal going on at a local beer store). We’d be interested in hearing what other people are thinking about having, so leave a comment and have a great long weekend.
First this month from the Beer of the Month Club is the Bavik Pilsner. Now, I gotta tell you, I’m skeptical of any pilsner not from the Czech Republic. I gotta also tell you that I realize how ridiculous this is – it’s like being skeptical of any IPA not from England (you may have noticed that my favorite IPAs are American). So, anyway, it’s something I’m working on – I can’t always be drinking Pilsner Urquell – gotta branch out sometime. Hopefully the Bavik will help.
The pour of this beer is, as expected, a light golden color with no debris whatsoever. The aroma is very malty with just a light bit of hop creeping out. In the mouth, the initial sensation is of a sweet light flavor on the tip of the tongue. This creeps to the middle of the mouth where a rather noticeable hop bite comes into play. The hoppiness increases steadily until the beer gets to the back of the mouth, where it generally hangs out for a while in the aftertaste. This also has a fair amount of the characteristic Pilsner malt to it. It’s overall a very crisp, clean beer, and hits me well on this hot summer’s eve. When compared to the Czech varieties I like, I would say that this is a bit fuller and carries a bit more hop, but it isn’t a terribly rich or full hop – rather, it is present, but light and flitting. And there is still quite a bit of that typical Pilsner flavor to pull us through. So, all things said, it’s a good experience. I like this Belgian pilsner, albeit for slightly different reasons. Overall this is a fabulous beer for a sunny day.
I’m way behind! As the more avid readers out there will know (and there are millions of you), I was on vacation for a long time recently. During that time, we received a shipment from our beloved Beer of the Month Club. I was quite happy to see said package sitting by the door, but I haven’t yet had a chance to review them. Then, guess what comes in the post today? Another shipment – meaning that I’m 2 months behind now. So, it’s time to kick it into gear – prepare for 8 beers and 10 days worth of Beer of the Month Club posts! Are you as psyched as I am? Probably not, because I get really psyched about new beers – plus I get to drink them, and you don’t. Sorry.
One of the things that has pleased me about BOMC is their consideration of the season when sending out brews. That continues this month, as we received a bunch of brews that serve well in the sweltering Southern heat that we’ve been seeing lately. Here’s what we got:
Klaster Czech Lager
Wild Goose Pale Ale
Abita Restoration Ale
So, these are all relatively light beers from various corners of Europe and North America. While I have had 2 of these beers in the past, it has been a while, so I’m looking forward to revisiting them. Keep checking back over the next 4 days to see what we think!
Now, I suppose this could be considered a legitimate Bock beer, although the label indicates that the naming has to do with the fact that “leute” means “joy” in Flemish and “bok” is the “he-goat” – thus the combination apparently builds to a dark, full-bodied, living ale. Unfortunately, I’m a bit behind on my definition of a Bock. However, by flavor, I’d say that this could pass for an exceptionally wild-tasting Bock in both flavor and color. So, I’ll review it as such – someone correct me if I’m wrong!
This beer pours a lovely dark-reddish brown that is obviously unfiltered. There is an aroma redolent of toffee and dark cherry that is quite pleasing. It is quite big and sweet with a light spiciness. In the mouth, this beer explodes with dark flavors. The spiciness bites you on the tip of the tongue. Through the mouth, the beer develops a tart spiciness around the middle of the mouth, blended with a rather rich bready sweetness. On through the mouth, a wild cherry flavor hits around the back of the tongue that sticks around into the aftertaste. This wild flavor gives this beer a slight touch of Flemish wild ale flair. However, the same wildness is tamed by a dark malt base to give you a complex and rich beer. Toss in this great spiciness and you have a beer that is both rich and quite punchy. Overall, I obviously like this beer a lot. I haven’t had a brown ale with cojones in a while. It seems that often brown beers are brewed neutered, relying on their malt and richness to pull them through. So, it’s nice to find a dark that can really hit you in the taste buds while still delivering a truly excellent flavor experience. Excellent job, van Steenberge – I’m sorry I didn’t try this sooner, since you’ve been brewing this since 1927 apparently. Better late than never!
With the weather warming up for the weekend, I thought writing about the “beer float” idea would be appropriate. This idea of a beer float (beer and ice cream) has probably been around for ages but it has recently come known to me from a news article and a sampling at a local grocery store. Though I was intrigued with the news article, the sampling at the grocery store sealed the deal. When my girlfriend’s eyes lit up after trying the sample, I knew a four pack of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and a quart of French vanilla ice cream had just been added to the grocery list. Lets see if the “beer float” is better then “beer nog“.
The recipe I tried for the beer float is pretty straight forward. Add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream to a pint glass (or mug), pour Young’s Double Chocolate Stout over said ice cream, and serve. First without the ice cream the Young’s pours a dark black, with a small, dense layer of cream colored head on top. The smell is heavily chocolate with some burnt undertones. The taste is just like the smell, heavy with chocolate with some lingering burnt taste at the back of the mouth. One surprising thing about the drink was its mouth feel. I was expecting a fuller/heavier mouth feel, with its dark body and dense head, not the medium one I encountered. None-the-less, it went down smooth, and I would have no problem drinking the beer again.
Next was trying the beer with the French vanilla ice cream. The beer and ice cream swirled together to make a very interesting looking concoction. The taste was still heavy on the chocolate but the burnt aspect disappeared and was replaced with the vanilla falvoring of the ice cream. My girlfriend thought the ice cream enhanced the flavoring of the chocolate to be even more noticable, she was quite pleased with this. The biggest change between the straight beer and beer float, was the mouth feel. As one would expect the ice cream made the drink much heavier, easily coating the inside of my mouth. This allowed the chocolate and vanilla tastes to linger in my mouth for a good few seconds after each sip. One of these chocolate vanilla beer floats was quite filling and there was no need (nor could I imagine) having a second one in one sitting.
With the chocolate vanilla float being a success I decided to try my hand at a Lindemans Framboise Lambic (Ben’s review) and vanilla float (as mentioned in the article). I personally was not as enamoured with this combination as with the chocolate/ vanilla one. Though I don’t mind the sweet tartness of the Framboise at times, it was a little too much for me. Maybe the float needed more ice cream and less beer, or a different type of vanilla ice cream (the article used malted vanilla), I’m not really sure. A great aspect of the beer float however, is how easy it is to experiment with (dropping some ice cream in a glass and pouring beer over it does not take all that much time).
Though the chocolate/vanilla beer float was more of a success, I was still pleased with both out comes. The beer float idea definitely gets my stamp of approval. They are easy to make, they can taste good, and they make a rather impressive looking dessert (for all those dinner guests you want to impress). Feel free to post any great beer float recipes in the comments. Happy experimenting.
So, the history of the review is that, back in high school, I always thought that Michelob made the best light beer of the standard macro bunch. My thoughts have changed a bit in recent years – but, still, in general I feel that Michelob makes a pretty decent light beer. Also, I rather enjoy Michelob’s Amber Bock, so I think that they do know how to make a decent beer, although they may realize that good beers aren’t necessarily where the money is at these days. In the case of the Bavarian Wheat I was excited, but skeptical – I love a Bavarian wheat beer, but I was worried about it being botched. In the end, I am, for the most part, satisfied.
So, to keep it simple and up-front, I’ll tell you that this beer amounts to a decent Bavarian hefeweizen for the price. It pours a clearer golden than a legit hefeweizen with a slightly sweeter aroma than is necessary. The flavor is slightly malty, slightly citrusy, and quite sweet with an aftertaste that lingers with citrusy sweetness for some seconds. In short, it’s a pretty good cheap summer beer – sweet, refreshing, and accessible. Basically, this is a tasty beer, but it’s really a caricature of a true Bavarian hefe. It’s a bit bigger and a bit more cloying than what you’ll get from the real deal. However, it’s still good, it’s quite a bit cheaper, and I’d love to find something like this on tap at a ball game (let’s face it, we’re not going to see Franziskaner at the Durham Bulls stadium any time soon, but we MIGHT see this, and I’d love to). So, after paying $10.99 for a case of this at the Blue Light in Durham, I can’t help but give my approval. Sure, I’d rather have a crate of Ayinger or Franzy, but you ain’t gonna find those for this price, and I’m always happy to see the macros come out with something that’s borderline micro. Hats off to Michelob – why don’t you send me some of your other experimental beers – I’d love to see how they stack up…
I’ve come across a few news articles recently which don’t need a full post but are worth a read.
Stock up on those DIPAs, because the hop market is a bit shaky. I know one brewery had to cut back production of one of their new beers because they could not secure all the certain New Zealand hop they needed. With craft brewers using more hops and hop farmers becoming scarce (transfering to different crops a while back), this might be a trend for some time to come. It will be corrected in the long run however, because where there is money to be made, people will hop into it (wow… bad pun). The article brings up an interesting point though, “Hops, like wine grapes, are sensitive to soil and climate. A Tettnang grown in America may never exhibit the same flavor characteristics as the German original.” Even if new hop farmers come on board, beer recipes/taste may change. Not necessarily a bad thing, but time will tell.
A warning issued by Harpoon about their 22 ounce Peche bottles. Welcome to the dangerous side of beer!
We come from galaxies unknown, and we bring beer.
A definite reason to stop the train!
This is a little package I picked up down at Sam’s Blue Light the other day, from a brewery that I’m not familiar with. However, I’ve had a lot of good experiences with beers that have fish on the label, so I was bound to pick it up.
The pour of this beer is a mildly unfiltered golden color with tiny little bubbles giving it a nice effervescence. The aroma is of tart yeast and some lightly sweet malt. In the mouth, this one is syrupy sweet through the mouth with just the slightest hint of hop around the middle of the tongue. Honestly, this is a rather simple brew. It’s fairly tasty, and doesn’t offer too many facets through the mouth – rather, it’s rich and sweet and honestly has a lot of cider characteristics about it. It even tastes a bit apple-y, which may be an accomplishment in its own right, considering there isn’t any apple involved. So. . . there isn’t a whole lot else to say about this beer. It IS tasty if you’re into ciders and very direct flavors in your beer. However, I can’t say that it’s bringing enough to the table to make me pay $7 for another 4-pack of this. They DO recommend cellaring on the label, which might help, although this really doesn’t strike me as a typically cellarable beer. Oh well – have any of you had this? What do you think?
Hey again, boozers. I tell you what, it’s nice to have a fridge full of all manner and variety of tasty brews waiting for you in the corner when you need it – I’m already getting spoilt again by the luxuries of the modern world. Tonight, I was in the mood for something light but complex, and I’m really hoping that the Hades fits the bill.
The pour of this beer, frankly, seems a bit boring when compared to a lot of beers. It’s a filtered golden color and, by look, could pass for any domestic macro-brewed light beer. However, a quick sniff quickly squashes any preconceptions you may have about this beer. This beer has a lightly sweet and spicy smell that is somewhat similar to a Belgian tripel, but not quite as cloying and lacking the occasional citrus aspect – also, it’s not too pungent. Basically, it smells very enticing, and I expect it to taste good. And, taste good it does! This beer enters the mouth with a light but substantial kick. There is an initial carb burn on the tip of the tongue that opens up the tastebuds for the spicy sweetness to follow. On through the mouth, this spiciness maintains, but is melanged with a mild hop bitterness and a nice sweetness reminiscent also of a tripel – I’m not entirely sure if there is any candi sugar used in this (it DOES use a Belgian yeast), but the sweetness leads me to believe there may be. On through the mouth, this spiciness picks up a light floral flavor and finishes with a second bite at the back of the throat. The floral sweetness then maintains in the throat or quite some time without heading too far up the nasal cavity. Great Divide has accomplished a nice light beer that is both refreshing and quite complex. It’s sorta an American tripel blended with the flavor of a lighter lager, and I like it…
I have returned! I know you guys probably didn’t even notice I was gone since Matt has been doing tons of beer reviews to keep you entertained in my absence. Nevertheless, I’m glad to say that I’ve returned from the wilds of the western US and I’m hoping to get back on the bandwagon and drink a few beers. I’ve got a fridge full of new stuff and a fresh shipment from the Beer of the Month club, all of which need some of my attention over the next few weeks – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta’ do it!
Since I had a few tasty northwestern brews during my travels, I decided to start out upon my return with another new-to-NC brew from California. This is a pale ale from Butte Creek that is named after a northern Californian snow-capped peak. But, really, who cares what is was named after? I suppose it’s the beer we’re worried about. My first impression of the beer is that it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. That’s not to say it’s bad – but, I do think it may be mis-categorized. When I saw that this was an extra pale ale, I was looking forward to a nice pale hoppy brew something like a Sierra Nevada plus 10. However, what I actually got is more akin to an Extra Special Bitter – a slightly hoppy and quite malty sweet beer. This pours an attractive amber golden that seems mostly filtered but just a bit cloudy. The aroma is quite bready sweet with very little hop involved. In the mouth, this tastes about like it smells. The sensation all across the tongue is sweet and bready. There is a rather thick and musty mouthfeel to this that makes the sweetness really stick to the tongue. As said before, there isn’t really a lot of hop to this – at times you can sense a bit of floral flavor here, but no bitterness reveals itself. So, overall, this is a sweet and malty beer with a full mouthfeel and lots of flavor. So, if you’re into that, then you’ll probably dig this. However, if you’re looking for a pale ale, this probably isn’t the one.
A few weeks back the Associated Press had an article about beer aficionados taking vacations to breweries, brew-pubs, and beer festivals. Though the article was rather brief, it did get me thinking about the subject, a subject that will require some reader input.
I personally have not gone on a vacation specifically for beer. I tend to pick travel destinations for other reasons (weddings, hiking, snowboarding, etc) and then look-up information on local breweries/brew-pubs/beer. This is what happened for a trip to Seattle (visited: Pike Pub & Brewery, Elysian Brewing Company, and McMenamins Six Arms) and a recent trip to Bermuda (visited: North Rock Brewing).
I do the local beer research not just to find local brews, but I’ve always felt visiting a bar can give a person a feel for an area. Mixing with the “locals” can lead to stories unknown or places unseen by the average tourist. This is why I am glad there is no beer “Mecca”, like wine’s Napa Valley, in America. Yes it means one has to travel more, but it also means you see more of America. I find that quite fitting for craft-beer, which in itself is an exploration in taste.
Now I know Ben and Matt went on their own beercation up the east coast, but what about your travels O’dear reader. Have you gone on a recent beercation or are you planning one? What was your impetus? Were/are you going for another reason (such as with my trips) or was/is craft beer the goal (such as with Ben and Matt’s east coast expedition). As I wrote, the article was brief, so I’d enjoy hearing about your trips past, present, and future. Drink well.
I must first apologize for the lack of activity on the site during the past few weeks. It has become quite apparent that Ben is the driving force behind our beer blog; with me bringing up the rear, clinging to his coattails. As Ben mentioned in his post below he is out of town and without internet access until the middle of August and I have been left to manage the posts, or in this case lack thereof. But tonight I felt compelled to review a beer I picked up on our travels up north, which were chronicled a few months back. The label describes this as a dark blonde ale, a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me, comprised of two types of malts and hops and flavored with candy sugar and mustard seeds. What’s this going to taste like? Your guess is as good as mine. I remember Ben and Jay saying it was pretty good so it can’t be all bad if it has been given the seal of approval from two gentlemen with tastebuds as distinguished as theirs.
I poured the Wostyntje into my favorite goblet, none other than the Grotten Brown, and the color took me by surprise. There is nothing terribly dark about this beer at all. It pours a burnt, golden yellow, with a minuscule ring of foam at the top. The smell is sweet with the corriander characteristics of a true belgian blonde ale. There is also a hint of clove that compliments the citrusy aroma. The taste very light and at the front of the tongue is almost nonexistent. When the temperature of the beer is the initial defining characteristic there’s a high probability the end result will be disappointment. A malty-lemon bitterness does announce its presence at the back of the throat but in my opinion it is still subtle, at best , and at this point it si too little too late. There does seem to be a tiny bite in the aftertaste, suggesting the mustard seeds are attempting to play a role, but this isn’t adding anything to my experience. I would say the delivery is light and pleasant, but the taste does nothing to grab your attention. I hate to say this is a feeble beer but it really has nothing to offer other than its drinkability. In this case I am going to have to respectfully disagree with my counterparts, although this shouldn’t bring the folks at De Begenboog down because 2/3 of sevenpack reviewers believe in their product.