Archive for October, 2007
Okay, folks, it’s time for another sampler pack that I picked up down here in the great state of Georgia. This time, we’re taking a run with the folks at FireStation5 brewery. Matty already took care of the Hefeweizen, so I won’t worry with it. However, I do have three other varieties that I’ll be commenting on. And, in case you were wondering, I’m still not finished with the JW Dundee’s sampler – I’ll be getting to those as soon as I’m able.
The blonde ale is very clear in a medium golden color. The aroma of this is quite biscuity with a hint of citrus. It’s a nice sweetness with just the right amount of citric scent to level it out. In the mouth, this is a fairly typical blonde, but with a bit of extra acidic kick. There is a nice lemon zest sweetness on the front of the tongue, and a great sweetbread flavor that hits around the middle. Towards the back of the mouth, the Golden Brigade hits us with a sharp blast of sourness that rears its head and just as quickly calms down, leaving a fairly sweet citrus flavor in the aftertaste. Overall, this is a pretty solid blonde ale. I won’t say that it’s really blowing me away, but it’s probably as good as any domestic small-bottle blonde that I’ve tasted in recent months. This would be exceedingly tasty on a hot day, as the extra citrus kick would make it extra thirst-quenching. If you see this on the shelf, don’t hesitate to give it a try – while you won’t lose your socks on the deal, you’ll certainly be satisfied.
Moving on down the line, we have a High Falls brew that sounds pretty interesting. I recall having maybe 1 or 2 other pale bocks in the past, but this is, in no way, a common brew. I’d be interested to know why High Falls decided on this particular genre – seems an odd choice for a brewer that, with the exception of their honey brown, seems to stick to common varieties. Regardless, I’m excited about it, and I intend to drink it.
This beer pours a very clear dark golden, and smells of big light malts. In the mouth, this beer is very malty. This pile of malt gives a tasty sweet-biscuity flavor with a full mouthfeel. In fact, for a light lager, this beer has the mouthfeel of a big dark ale, and it’s a little surprising. The first sensation is actually slightly bitter with a nutty flavor. However, it seems that the beer’s sweetness increases exponentially as the beer moves through the mouth. By the back of the tongue, the sweet-bread flavor has reached terminal velocity. In the aftertaste, this sweetness sticks around and hangs out in the back of the throat for a long while. I have to say that this is the most interesting beer yet from this variety pack. It looks light and airy, but tastes big and malty. Also, for a domestic beer in a 12-pack, this beer is much more impressive than you expect. My hat’s off to High Falls for this gem.
Third up from our High Falls sampler pack is this traditional American amber lager. This is one that I’m least intrigued by because, frankly, amber lagers don’t generally carry a lot of deviation. Rather, most of ‘em are quite similar. They’re tasty and enjoyable as session brews, but not typically something that inspires my imagination. Nevertheless, I’m not one to leave a beer behind, so here are my impressions!
The amber pours a clear….er…amber color. In the nose, this is mostly dark malts with some consistent caramel hints. In the mouth, this tastes like a maltier version of a Killian’s Irish Red. It is sweet, it has a lot of dark malt flavor, it has hints of toffee and caramel, and it has a rather full mouthfeel – all these characteristics are fairly consistent through the mouth, leaving you with a solid aftertaste that sticks around for a fair while. Really, it’s a great amber, especially for the money. So far, every beer out of this variety pack has been spot on, which honestly surprises me. High Falls has done a great job of nailing these varieties on the head, and even making them a little more flavorful than most of their domestic brethren. I have no choice but to recommend them whole-heartedly!
When it comes to American pale ales, it’s hard to compete with the 500 lb gorilla that is Sierra Nevada. And, there’s nothing wrong with that – Sierra Nevada makes a fabulous beer and they run a respectable company. However, I’m always happy to try out new entries to the market. And, whether or not it is actually new, I just recently saw this version from High Falls Brewing on shelves here in Georgia, so I’m giving it a go…
This Pale Ale pours golden and clear with just the slightest bit of debris. So, it’s noticeably cloudier than a golden ale, but not so cloudy as many pale ales out there. In the nose, this beer is very malty. The malt is musty and sweet and is actually more pungent than what I recall from Sierra Nevada. It’s really a good aroma – strong and balanced. In the mouth, this is a pale ale by the books. The initial sensation is very malty with a surprising amount of hop bite. On through the mouth, the musty malt and hops are strong and well balanced, making a beer that is truly a pleasure to drink. There is an odd kick to the bitterness that I’m having trouble placing, and I hope it comes to me at a later date so I can tell you about it. But, the end result is a beer that is very good and bigger than you’d expect from a pale ale from JW Dundee. This is really a beefier beer than the Sierra Nevada, which tempts me to give it a higher review. The bottom line is that this is quite akin to the Sierra Nevada that you know and love, but turned up to 11. So, if you like more flavorful pales, then give this a go!
Alright, folks – I’m gonna break off a quick one for ye. Recently, I found myself coming into a variety pack from the folks at High Falls Brewing Co. More specifically, these folks make the JW Dundee’s Honey Brown that you’ve all probably had during your college undergrad years. Turns out, they may also make a number of other beers, including the Hefeweizen you see here. I’m hoping to review each of the beers in the variety pack, if I can find the time. So, while I’m not sure about the history or origination of these beers, I’ll let you know what I think of ‘em.
The Hefe pours a relatively clear light golden color with tons of debris in the bottom of the glass – if you were to agitate this adequately, you’d probably get a much denser beer. The aroma is sharp and SweeTart-ish. In the mouth, this beer is both sweet and tart all the way through the mouth. The journey starts with a tartness that then moves to a light wheaty sweetness around the middle of the tongue, and then the sharp tartness revisits us at the back of the mouth and sticks in the aftertaste for quite some time. All in all, this is a simple beer. It’s tasty, but only offers a couple of decent sensations. Granted, it’s an American Hefeweizen, which (in my opinion) often fades in comparison to their Bavarian counterparts. So, you can’t expect me to be crazy about it. Soooo, I guess it’s pretty good for an economically priced American wheat. But, I wouldn’t write home about it.
This is the last of the New Glarus beer stash that I brought back from Wisconsin. The first time I drank this beer was at a Houlihan’s in Lake Geneva and I didn’t care for it too much. I remember thinking it was terribly bland and just “blah” which is why it has taken me so long to review it. I should have written some notes while I was at the bar so I didn’t have to revisit this beer, but unless the beer I’m drinking is truly remarkable or rare I try to refrain from looking like a total tool/beer snob in public.
This is New Glarus’ version of a farmhouse ale. There is a cloudiness to the appearance but it isn’t as pronounced as advertised on the label. Their description makes it sound like this beer could potentially create a torrential down pour. The aroma is light kind of like smelling the OUTSIDE of an orange. You know what I mean, a bit plastic-y with a subtle citrus undertone. Ok maybe you don’t know what I mean, so suffice to say the smell isn’t tantalizing the nostrils. The taste is light and again seems trapped. I can tell there is a sweet ‘n’ sour flavor combo going on but it is so faint and flighty that my tastebuds don’t have time to enjoy it. If I had to describe the flavor in one word I would say, “diluted.” This is the only beer from New Glarus that I haven’t care for thus my recommedation would be to skip over this beer and enjoy the other offerings.
Hello, all! You, my adoring fans, may or may not be aware that I have recently come into an employment situation that occupies a fair amount of my time (the wonderful world of government contracting!). For this reason, I’m finding less and less opportunity to seek out and drink quality brews. Furthermore, I find that there aren’t THAT many quality brews in middle Georgia. However, you can find a gem here and there, and thus I was excited to find SweetWater’s Hummer on the shelves in town. I have never tried the Hummer, but I’ve had occasion to read about it. And, being modeled after a Belgian white ale, a favorite genre of mine, I was anxious to try it. Plus, any beer that proclaims on the label, “Everybody Loves a Hummer!” can’t be all bad…
This beer pours a soft golden with noticeable residue floating around the liquid. The head is stark white but really doesn’t stick around very long. The aroma of this beer is exceedingly yeasty. Some folks may not like a big yeast dose on their beer, but I think it is great and quite indicative of the genre. On top of the yeast is a soft malt with just a touch of citrus aroma, but the predominance is a sweet and lively yeast. In the mouth, this beer doesn’t disappoint. The early sensation is a light carbonation burn on the tip of the tongue. After this, we are exposed to a sweetness that begins on the tip of the tongue and consistently expands through the mouth. Initially, the sweetness is light and mostly of a yeasty variety. However, as the liquid continues through the mouth, a light malt presence joins the yeast to expand the sweetness and grow it into the nasal cavity. In the aftertaste, we’re left with a pleasant coating on the back of the throat that maintains that unmistakable Belgian white flavor with just a hint of citrus. All in all, I think this is an excellent interpretation of the Belgian white variety. It is a bit sweeter than a Hoegaarden and might be too cloying for some drinkers. However, I like a good dose of yeasty sweetness in my beer, so I find this excellent. This is certainly my favorite SweetWater beer thus far, and an excellent offering from this Georgia brewery.
I’ve come across a few more good articles today. Starting off…
A Wall Street Journal piece about the macro-brewers (AB, SABMiller, and Molson Coors) getting into the craft beer side of things. It is an interesting read, especially with the gains the macro-brewers have made recently (due to their large and extensive distribution and marketing/sales networks and not necessarily the taste of the actual beer).
Scottish & Newcastle chairman “slammed” a 6.8 billion pounds takeover bid by Carlsberg and Heineken as “unsolicited and derisory”.
The final news story…
That is our name! Send the lawyers! Oh wait…
Budejovicky Budvar NP could be sold off to private hands by the Czech government. I recently had a Budvar, or Czechvar as it is known in the States, at a bar down the street from me. I had forgotten how good a beer it is (the last time I had a Budvar was back in my London travels) and it is a shame Anheuser-Busch had to make such a low quality impersonation of it. Ironically enough, AB actually distributes Budvar in the US.
The Aussies figure out a new way to crush beer cans.
Drunk elephants… enough said.
Got some news I missed? Want to notify people about an upcoming beer event? Work for a brewery and want to inform people about a new beer? You can drop me a note at dave “at symbol” sevenpack period net and the information could be included in my next news posting.
Speaking of beer events, I’m going to be at Beeradvocate’s “Night of the Funk” event tomorrow. I’m hoping the event will be as enjoyable as the previous “Night of the Lagers” which I posted about a few months back.
Since Stone lacks distribution around Ben and Matt, I thought I would post a review of one of their newest offerings, Stone 11th Anniversary Ale. This is an interesting beer for the fact it is a Black IPA “(or should we say “India Black Ale/ IBA”?)” as stated on the Stone site. Having personally never heard of a Black IPA, I was intrigued by what the beer would have in store for me.
The beer pours a sticky finger and a half of cream colored head into a pint glass. The color, black. They definitely were not kidding when they called it a Black IPA. It is not a dark IPA, it is a black IPA. For comparison sake I took a photo (see below) of a Stone IPA, Stone Ruination, and Stone 11th Anniversary next to each other (I had to use competitor’s glasses because I only have one Stone glass, but if Stone wants to send me some…).
There is quite a difference in color. Beer is not just to be looked at however, so let’s see how it smells and tastes.
The initial aroma of the beer is of freshly cut grapefruit, the citrus blast is that intense. I also notice some light pine and floral aroma with some further smelling. I find the aroma very pleasing and actually end up just smelling the beer for a good few minutes.
Already impressed with the visual and aromatic properties of the beer, I moved on to the all important tasting. The taste is definitely one of an IPA with the citrus flavor up front and pine towards the back of the mouth. The pine even stays around in the mouth between sips. What is interesting about the flavor is the slight hint of smoke at the back of the mouth along with the pine. It is not strong, like a smoked porter, but the hint is there. The mouth feel is another interesting aspect of this beer. For me it was not only “richer” and medium bodied when compared to an IPA, I found it to be quite smooth.
Some other interesting things about this beer, which I learned at a Stone sampling session at a local beer store, is the fact it uses a Carafa malt (I had written down Kafka, but considering I can find no reference to Kafka as a malt, I’m pretty sure I just mis-heard) with Simcoe, Chinook and Amarillo hops. The beer also tested horribly with Stone’s sample brewing system. It seems the beer started off as a home brew, most likely from a Stone employee, which was enjoyable, so the decision was made to brew a larger batch in Stone’s testing system (I was told the size of their testing system, but unfortunately I did not take a written note of it). The larger batch from the test system actually sampled poorly. People didn’t like it all that much. Now for whatever reason, the stone rep was not sure if it was either because the Stone brewers knew the production brewery system had a higher efficiency compared to the testing system, 90+% compared to 70%, so the flavoring would be better, or the brewers knew what part of the recipe needed adjusting without having to run it through the test system again, they went along with the beer and the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale came to fruition in its current form. A rather ballsy move, for a pretty ballsy beer.
Overall a very interesting beer I fully enjoyed, and had no issue picking up again… and again. The 8.7% ABV is pretty well hidden so you have to be careful with this beer, but it definitely gets a recommendation for any hop head or person interested in trying different stylings of beer.
Damn! I just read the side of the label and I can’t help but think whoever wrote it is on some serious drugs. Incidentally, this probably is closer to the truth than I realized. I read a press release about the 2005 St. Patrick Day Massacre and the 20-day suspension referenced on the front of the bottle and apparently the folks at the Lagunitas Brewing Co. were hosting large parties, or rather “tasting”, and it just so happened there was a lot of dope smoking involved. The former was in violation of local laws and of course the latter, is seen by some (not myself) to be a national crime. I don’t smoke the reefer but come on, it doesn’t hurt anyone and we have much bigger fish to fry than busting someone for lighting up a joint or 2. It doesn’t impair judgment any more than alcohol and before someone posts crap about it being a “gateway” drug don’t waste your time because that’s ridiculous and quite frankly I don’t want to hear it. Anyway, undercover agents eventually busted Lagunitas and thus their punishment was a 20-day suspension. So Magee chose to express his disdain for the authorities by creating this beer commemorating the aforementioned events and openly mocking them for bringing an end to such a heinous drug cartel…
Before I even poured it in the glass my nose was filled with an intense hop aroma. I already know I am going to love this beer! It has a very clean appearance, no debris or haze to distort its copper color. The head of the first pour is extremely thick but much more mellow when I top it off with the rest of the beer in the bottle. Again the smell is very hoppy. It has an “in your face” characteristic that I assume is meant to represent Magee’s message to his adversaries. The hop flavor is a bit milder than the smell but it’s still apparent and at the forefront of the taste. The hoppiness surrounds the tongue and immediately rushes to the roof of the mouth. It settles there and creates the husky, metallic mouthfeel that I love so much with big, hoppy beers. There is a mild sweetness mixed with a grapefruit sourness but they play second, maybe even third fiddle to the luscious hops. Despite the intense flavor, this beer is quite smooth and very drinkable; even to someone that doesn’t particularly care for this brewing style. You can’t even tell that this beer weighs in at 9.28%! This is an absolutely delightful beer and I’m glad I picked it up. Who knew anger, loathing and mockery could create something this wonderful?
Okay, guys. I’m in Florida right now on business and I picked up a six-pack of this Stoudt’s Weizen because I’ve been craving good Hefeweizens. So, this is going to be a short review, ‘caues I gotsta hit the bed.
So, the Stoudt’s pours a hazy golden color with tons of debris. The aroma is sweet and yeasty with a light hint of citrus. In the mouth, this beer is quite delicious. It has a lot of the traditional flavor of a Bavarian Hefeweizen, including a nice yeast sweetness, the smooth wheat flavor that is characteristic of the style, and just a light citrus hint (that could be increased by tossing a lemon wedge into the beer). Through the mouth, this beer doesn’t change a lot, although it does exhibit a burst of spice at the back of the mouth that only leaves your mouth watering for more. All in all, I’d love to have more of this beer. It’s an excellent interpretation of the Bavarian version of this beer – maybe as good as I’ve had from a US brewer. This will be extremely refreshing on a hot summer day, but I’d be just as happy to taste this any time of year
I had no intention of reviewing tonight so I thought had chosen a beer that Ben had already written about. Turns out I was mistaken so as I sit here and watching what has amounted to a home run derby in thhe 5th game of the NLCS I am going review this rather ambiguous beer. I say this because the brewers classify this beer as a “traditional Norwegian Smoked Ale with Juniper Berries.” I don’t frequent the Scandinavian countries, well ever, so my first and only experience with a Norwegian beer was with the last HaandBryggeriet beer I drank. It was okay but nothing special. I remember being more impressed by the uniqueness than the taste. Let’s see what this beer has to offer.
This beer looks muddy not because it’s thick but because it looks like dirty water, kind of a medium brown, and boasts an off-white head that sticks around for the duration of the drinking experience. It isn’t a substantial amount of head but rather pillowy covering that dissipates into a small ring that settles on the top, much like a sticky film on grimy water. It smells very smokey (who would have guessed) and has a slight chocolatey sweetness. The smoke in the taste is much more pronounced, almost as if you were chewing on a burnt oak chip. The taste seems to be most apparent on the sides of the tongue and then it climbs on the middle. This is unlike anything that I have drank before. The flavors are are hitting my tastebuds in very different places and it is really throwing me off right now. The taste gets sweeter as it travels through the mouth, I’m sensing dark bitter chocolate, but ultimately ends with a burnt coffee sensation. I can’t tell if I like it or if I don’t, which is also quite rare for me because I usually don’t have any problem saying that I think I beer sucks. This certainly isn’t a beer I would drink with any regularity but it is interesting so I might return to it when I need something completely out of the ordinary.
Now, anyone in their right mind might be skeptical of this beer, as most of the rice beers you know are of the macro-brewed swill variety. However, keep heart – there IS such a thing as a good rice beer. Most of those that I’m aware of have come from the Far East so far, like some of the brews from Hitachino. However, I’m perfectly content to see what Great Divide can do with the genre.
It pours a just-slightly-cloudy light golden color, and one of my favorite things about it is the large amount of fine carbonation. I’m drinking from one of Sam Adams’ new fancy glasses with the ‘nucleation’ area at the bottom. Usually, this ‘nucleation’ point pulls a few bubbles out of a beer. However, with the Samurai, you get a scenic circle of frequent dense bubbles that is a lot of fun to look at. The aroma of this is crisp and light. Frankly, it doesn’t have an especially pleasant or predominant aroma – it’s just lightly malty, smells a bit of carbonation, and is fairly non-descript. The flavor of this is pretty good. Honestly, the nearest approximation is of a summer wheat ale. It IS highly carbonated, there is a light refined sweetness from the malt, and there is almost no apparent hop contribution. The aftertaste again exhibits carbonation, and goes down with a light tingle, some light sweetness, and then it’s gone! And, really, that’s about it. It IS a good beer, albeit a simple one, and this may be what Great Divide intends. Through the mouth, this maintains a fairly consistent and definite sweetness. It’s light, refreshing, and has an effervescence that lends an additional crispness to the brew. Pretty good brew, all around, and something interesting to try if the best rice brew you’ve ever had comes from Anheuser-Busch.