Archive for December, 2007
The march of Imperial Stouts continues unabated here at sevenpack with a review of Southern Tier’s Imperial Choklat Stout. I recently picked this beer up when I was out shopping with my girlfriend. She enjoys chocolate, I enjoy beer, so we thought this was a match made in (liquid) heaven. The bottle even mentions the Maya poured chocolate for their rulers and gods. Let’s see if the beer meets such lofty expectations.
Poured into a snifter the black as night beer had a one finger biege head comprised of tight little bubbles. Swirled around the glass the beer left little on the glass, so it was not a highly viscous brew. What little it had in viscosity however it made up for in chocolate aroma. Bitter chocolate, chocolate powder and chocolate syrup all waifed up to meet my nose. There was a fleeting hint of alcohol but this might have been more a trick of the mind, since I knew it was an eleven percent ABV beverage.
In the mouth it was a continuation of the aroma. A very nice bitter chocolate taste, with a nice bit of chocolate syrup sweetness. Though it might have tasted of chocolate syrup the mouth feel was by no means syrupy, with more of a medium body. The tip of the tongue was tingled with some nice little bubbles but through the rest of the mouth the beer was smooth as velvet. At the back of the mouth I was expecting some type of alcohol burn but it never came, even after the beer had warmed. The alcohol is well masked by the chocolate indulgence of the beer.
This is a wonderful beer for chocolate and beer lovers alike. My girlfriend confirmed it even goes well with vanilla bean ice cream. High praise for this beer and definitely deserving of the gods.
Happy New Years everyone!
I took on Port Brewing’s Hop-15 Ale a week back, and found it enjoyable, so I thought I would sample something a little more “in season”* from them. Being an Imperial Stout, Santa’s Little Helper would definitely fit the bill. I grabbed a snifter for glassware, my trusty beer notebook for writing and settled in for some beer tasting.
The beer poured a rich black with one finger of tan head. There was little stickage to the quickly receding head and after a few seconds, only little islands of foam remain. Swirling the beer, I noticed a nice caramel colored coating on the glass. This coating however was not very viscous and quickly receded.
A rather dense smoke smell permeated the nose of the beer, with hints of dark raisins in the middle and a light hint of sweet caramel towards the end. My nose could not pinpoint the smoke aroma as either chocolate or coffee, but it was something definitely burnt.
My first taste of the beer was followed by a verbal “Ohhh… wow.” The beer had a creamy, but not thick, body to it, which was wonderful on the tongue. The taste was more on the chocolate side for me, though with coffee accents. Along with the chocolate taste there was a nice bit of bitterness in the mix. Initially the bitterness was the ending of the swallow, but as the beer warmed, an alcohol burn started to make its presence known. Not horrible, but I would have preferred the bitterness to have maintained its ending presence. Along with the burning ending, as the beer warmed, and I got to the second pour of the bottle, I noticed some better stickage with the head, and the body seemed to be more viscous.
If you want to skip the alcohol burn finish, this is what I suggest. I currently have my beer fridge set to between 50 and 55 degrees, so try storing the beer a little bit cooler than that. Do not go too low however, or you will miss some of the subtleties of the beer because it is too cold. Besides the slight alcohol burn ending, a nice Imperial Stout and I was sad to see the bottle finished.
*I do not believe in “beer seasons”, if I felt like having a hefeweizen in winter, I would have been writing a review about a hefeweizen instead.
At the risk of selling out I implore you, regardless of what is written below, to buy this beer. Proceeds from the sale of this beer go to fund education for pediatric nurses or soon-to-be pediatric nurses at the Maine Medical Center and being a nurse myself I have to plug the cause. I did not know this until after I visited the Allagash website so my purchase wasn’t based on philanthropy, but your’s should be. That being said I will review the beer as objectively as I can, as I always try to do.
It’s been quite a while since my shadow has darkened the doorway of Sam’s Bluelight. My stash has mainly been made up of BOMC brews and stuff I haven’t really felt like reviewing so I was glad to see this beer “Mecca” had some new offerings. I’m not entirely sure why I chose to by this beer because I often times find Allagash ales to be overpriced and weird. I can appreciate the complexity that results from experimentation but most of the time it just seems to be too much. This particular ale is brewed with yarrow, a spice thought to have healing qualities. More specific to brewing, yarrow is sometimes used as a hop substitute. Given the recent hop shortage this could prove beneficial. If nothing else maybe the Fluxus will counteract some of the damage I’ve been doing to my liver. Here’s to hoping.
The Fluxus is opaque with a cooper hue. I’m not noticing any sediment but it is murky nonetheless. The head is fairly thick and pillowy and once it mellows leaves about an 1/8 inch ring around the top of the glass. It smells fresh and earthy. There are hints of lemon and cirtus fruits, as well as touches of floral goodness. The taste is strong and mouthfeel thick. It has a sweet ‘n’ spicy bite that tingles throughout the mouth. I’m getting lemon zest mixed with orange/tangerine and a touch of grapefruit that has a thick honey-like characteristic as it seems to flow slowly from the back of the tongue and down the throat. This beer attaches itself to every part of the mouth. It reminds me of a belgian triple. I know Allagash specializes in belgian-style ales so my assumption may not be far off the mark. This is a very good beer and one that I am enjoying. I don’t know if it should cost $19.00 but a hefty price tag has never stopped me from buying a beer before so I guess I am contributing to the problem.If you like belgian beers you’ll like this beer and if not at least you’ll be helping educate someone in an invaluable profession.
Gap appears to narrow between spirits, beer in U.S. in 2007 Pretty straight forward article. Along with other factors, it seems the interest in craft beer has helped keep the amount of beer shipped in the US steady, while spirit shipments have declined. Nothing overly exciting I realize, but thought people would like to know.
With the holidays past us, the question comes to mind: what did you get?
I personally got eight beer glasses to add to my growing collection. The glasses, purchased from The Global Beer Network, were for Chimay, Orval, Grimbergen, Poperings Hommel Bier, Saison Dupont, Kapittel Watou, Watou’s Wit, and Oerbier. I also got bottles of Ommegang Rare Vose, Ommegang Abey Ale, Ommegang Hennepin, and Duvel. Amazingly enough I have never had Ommegang Rare Vose or Abey Ale, so I am definitley looking forward to trying those two. All the beers have been reviewed here at sevenpack: Ommegang Rare Vose, Ommegang Abey Ale, Ommegang Hennepin, and Duvel, though I may be posting some follow up thoughts on the beers.
Post a comment or leave a trackback answering the question: What did you get for the holidays?
After a day of last minute Christmas shopping, I thought I would crack into an Imperial IPA to help relax. The beer answering the call to arms, Port Brewing’s Hop-15 Ale. Port Brewing makes some great hoppy brews (Wipe-Out IPA and High Tide Fresh Hop IPA were featured in my wet hop challenge post), so I was quite excited to taste what their Imperial IPA had in store for me.
Before even pouring the beer, let me mention the label art is excellent. First the label is a bright yellow, so it really sticks out on the shelf, but it also consists of airplane bombers bombing hops into a beer. The hops even have bomb flaps on them! Very nice work for a label.
Anyway, though the label is a nice piece of art, the beer is what we are interested in. Poured into a pint glass I got a good finger of tight off white head. The head recedes rather quickly leaving a thing covering over the beer. The carbonation throughout the body is pretty good with a pretty consistent stream of bubbles percolating up the beer. These bubbles give a lot of life to the large amount of debris found in the beer. This is definitely not a filtered beverage. The debris helps in making the body quite hazy, but even if this beer were filtered it would still be on the dark side for an IIPA, which is a deep burnt red-orange.
In the nose I’ve got some big citrus orange, with a mixing of Christmas tree pine. These aromas follow through in the taste with some big citrus and pine flavorings. The bitterness is strong with this beer and it does a good job enveloping the whole mouth. Citrus, pine, bitterness, its all there, its all in big amounts and its all so good. Amazingly enough there is a slight hint of malt sweetness at the very end of the swallow. I would not qualify it as “balancing” but it does provide a nice addition to the finish. Though there was not hint of alcohol in the aroma, it can be found in the taste. This is a 10% abv beer, and you definitely get the sense of that while drinking it.
Fifteen different varieties of hops, added every fifteen minutes to the boil (as stated on the label) provided exactly what I was looking for tonight. A big hop bomb. If you are looking for a big hop beer, this should fit the bill for you.
If you are still looking for a (very) last minute Christmas gift for the beer person in your life, may I suggest Beer Advocate Magazine. I enjoy reading it every month, and their rates are going up next year, so get in before then!
With the recent winter storms passing through New England, I needed something to warm my bones, so I thought it would be time to open up the bottle of Flying Dog Wild Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter I had sitting in my beer fridge. Jon reviewed the original Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter a while back. The difference between that review and this one, the Wild Dog version has been barrel-aged in oak whiskey barrels for three months.
The beer pours a big three finger head into a snifter. The dark tan head stays around… and around… and around. For a bit I was wondering if the head would actually dissipate at all. It finally did and left a nice lacing on top of the deep black bodied beer. When swirled the beer leaves a nice light caramel color on the glass walls.
The first whiff of aroma was of liquor, which got me a little nervous. I wanted to be warmed but not set on fire. The liquor aroma however dissipated and was replaced with nice roasted, smokey notes. Nothing too intense, something along the lines of slightly burnt toast. There were also nice hints of oak and vanilla interspersed with the smoke.
In the mouth the beer had a great smoothness, thanks to the aging, and had a medium to heavy mouth feel. Honestly I was expecting something a bit heavier and fuller in the mouth. The oak aging definitely makes its presence felt with a nice vanilla flavoring to the predominant toasted malt flavor. This vanilla grew as the beer warmed but never became over bearing. The ending of the beer had a slight bitterness to it that I noted as giving the beer an “earthy” flavoring. It was a very nice finish to a nicely oaked and toasted beer. One thing lacking in the taste was the hit of liquor aroma I first had when smelling the beer. I do not consider this a bad thing at all however. The other flavors were able to deal with the liquor content (9.5% ABV) and provided a well balanced, complex, and warming beer.
Unfortunately this was a limited release of 5000 bottles (500 of which were used in a limited edition box set) and I picked this beer up a while ago, so I’m unsure if it is still out there. If you happen to run across it, I definitely recommend its purchase.
The Love Child was the one big bottle brew I bought from TJ’s. I didn’t read the back of the bottle to see what type of beer it is. I picked it up solely because of the overweight man wearing nothing more than a banana hammock, crew socks, some Dutch-style shoes, and a football helmet with no face mask. My ultimate goal in life is to look like this man and if I keep drinking the way I am now I guarantee I won’t have to wait long. Turns out this is a lambic ale, and given my lack of experience with this style there’s a chance this review may be way offline. In other words, if I give it bad marks drink it yourself because there’s a chance I am missing the intricacies that make a great lambic.
This beer is copper and very murky. I couldn’t see anything on the other side of this beer if my life depended on it. The smell is heavy with dark fruit, with raspberry taking center stage. The taste boasts much the same. The fruity flavors attack the tongue and the taste of alcohol rushes to the nasal cavity. According to the label this ale is aged for three months with the fruit that comprise its taste. I think I like the aftertaste more because the carbonation burn disappears leaving a fruitiness that isn’t abrasive. I will have to say that the coating left on the tongue is bitter but it isn’t overpowering. The raspberry taste morphs into cherries which is kinda cool. This is a burly, complex lambic and I can see how you could make a “love child” after consuming a couple bottles of this beer with your special lady friend. I like this beer more and more with each sip so I am going to have to recommend it, especially if you dig lambics. Even if you don’t, buy it for the picture on the front label!
Looking for some last minute gift ideas? Well here are two ideas from your friends at Sevenpack.
First, the beer basket. This gift is for all you DIYers out there who like to make gifts for people. No need to fear, this gift is neither tough nor time consuming to make. First step, get a basket. Actually, depending on the person you are giving it to, a basket is not necessary… using a box or bag would work fine too. Second, stroll down to your local craft beer store. Pick out a variety of five or six 22 ounce beer bombers. The variety could include beers from America, Belgium, England, Germany… or any region where beer is brewed. Not sure which beers to choose? We’ve reviewed a few beers here at Sevenpack, which you could use as a guide, or you could ask one of the store’s workers for suggestions. Be creative and don’t stick to one style or brewer. Also, throw in some appropriate beer glassware (dave: thanks for the comment about glassware Buttle). Third step, place purchased beers in basket/box/bag. Final step, give the gift to the beer connoisseur. Actually it does not even have to be a beer connoisseur. This could be the ideal time to introduce someone to the variety that is craft beer.
Okay, so you might not be a “make a gift” person, so how about giving a book about beer? There are plenty of books out there to choose from. The books range in topic from “Top Beers of the World” to “How to Cook with Beer” to “Pair Beer and Food” to “How to Brew Your Own Beer”. A book about beer might not sound as “fun” as actual beer you can drink, but a lot of craft beer drinkers enjoy learning about beer too. I actually picked up “Ultimate Beer” by Michael Jackson recently, and I have been enthralled by it. This book is not one of Michael Jackson’s larger tomes on beer, considering it barely ranks in size next to his “Great Beer Guide” or “Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium” (both of which are 500 plus pages). It does however provide a very nice introduction to beer, its history, its different styles, cooking with, etc. in its 192 pages.
The descriptions of each style of beer provide a nice primer on the style but do not overwhelm. Each style is also broken down to its recommended “serving time” (i.e. a “Sociable Beer” would be an English Bitter, while a “Winter Warmer” would be an Old Ales). Each beer style has a bunch of beer examples, which are beautifully photographed with their appropriate glassware. I’ve actually found myself thumbing through some of the pages just to look at the different bottle/glass label artwork. Of course each beer has some brief tasting notes from Michael Jackson. Again these notes are not overwhelming but provide enough description to understand the beer. The book also hits upon beer and food pairing and cooking with beer, which are both very interesting and exciting aspects of craft beer.
I guess one could read the book cover to cover, but I don’t think this is the essence of the book. This book is more of a coffee table (or beer table) book. It is meant to be left out for easy perusal to either spark some beer drinking inspiration (“I think I will look for this style of beer next time I’m out.”) or provide a talking point with guests (“No really, there is more to Beer then (insert macrobrew of choice)”). Overall it is a book any person who enjoys beer should have in their collection.
Have any other “Beer gift” ideas or get any good “Beer gifts” this holiday season? Leave a post in the comments, because we would all enjoy reading about them.
Second on the New Staton, PA visit beer list is the Railbender Ale. This beer has a little more promise than the Chimp Chiller. Judging by the pour alone it appears to be more of a true ale that took some thought to create.
It has a darker copper hue with a smidgen of head. That may be due in part because I had to pour a little in a plastic cup to see what it looks like. Please note that is not by choice but rather circumstance because that is the only “glassware” in my room. It smells nutty and I sense that the roasted malts will carry this beer’s flavor. As expected there is a roasted quality but there is a mild sweetness that tries to be a part of the overall taste. These dueling characteristics create a bitterness that I can’t quite figure out. I feel as if I am muddling through a random assortment of flavors. The final flavor rounds out with a deep nuttiness that is pretty good but it feels as if it takes forever to get there. Enjoying this beer will take patience but it can be done…I guess.
Hello, again, dear friends. It’s been quite some time since our last discussion, but I have returned to provide some insight into this vintage (well, the year’s almost over anyway) ale from North Coast. Ideally, I’d like to try this one again in about a year or two, and hope to have one saved for just that occasion. But, of course, you can’t let all good beer sit idly by, can you? Hopefully this review will provide some notes for posterity.
The beer pours a smooth, rusty tone with notes of orange and auburn. It smells sweet, with some fruit undertones (orange?) and general spiciness. There was little to no head with the pour, but it’s a nice bodied beer nonetheless. Now, onto the good stuff. The beer tastes very much like a typical abbey-style ale. There are subtle hints of fruit, and the alcohol is very much present (it is 11.7 abv). While the alcohol is strong, it is not overwhelming – it certainly hits the back of the throat and you know you’re drinking a burly beer, but it’s not going to knock you down like a Golden Monkey. In any case, the overall flavor is sweet with some smoky undertones as well – all in all, it’s got a good bit of complexity. I really would enjoy trying this again in about two or three years, or even to get my hands on some older, true vintage Old Stock. I have a feeling this bad boy mellows out with age, but as of now, I have nothing to support that thought.
With that said, I’d like wish a “Merry Everyone” to those readers of sevenpack stretched out amongst the WWW’s. Enjoy your holidays with at least one good beer, and maybe more.
This would normally qualify as a Friday link, but I think it deserves to be posted now.
It seems someone made a Bender robot (from Futurama) that actually brews beer (as Bender did in Season 3, Episode 12: The Route of All Evil). Nifty rig to say the least. Here is the project page with the whole story: http://www.asciimation.co.nz/bender/index.html
[Post first seen on Gizmodo]
I came up to Pennsylvania to interview at U of Pitt but after seeing the ridiculous prices for the hotels downtown I decided to stay on the outskirts to save some money. Little did I know I would be in the middle of BFE. Thank goodness the Quality Inn isn’t a run down shack and more importantly I ran across TJ’s take and 6-pack. There wasn’t a huge selection at TJ’s, mainly domestics, but I was able to snag a few brews I’ve never tasted.
First on the list is the Chimp Chiller Ale from Butt Monkey. I hesitate to put the brewery name on the site because I can only imagine the comments that will be posted. Nonetheless here goes. It pours a straw-colored-yellow, kinda like urine or any domestic light beer, you take your pick. There are no outstanding aromas, to be honest it just smells like beer. And surprise, surprise it tastes like beer. If I were doing a blind taste test with the CCA and Bud or Miller Lite I would find it hard to differentiate among the them. It tastes every bit like a cheap lager. I mean it’s a nice beer for beer pong or any other drinking game but you’ll be hard pressed to find any special characteristics. Save the CCA for a long drinking session on the beach, for it’s not to be used to impress the palate.
Frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t seen this beer before now. I’ve had a solid selection of St. Bernardus brews, and they’re readily available in my area of the country. However, I first saw this little gem on the shelves in Seattle a couple of days ago. And, being as I’m a big fan of the Belgian witbier varieties, I simply had to give it go.
This beer pours a rather odd hue, really. It’s an almost swampy looking dull shade of golden/brown. Honestly, it looks like some sorta weird fruit juice that you might find in the organics section of Whole Foods. Also, the head is almost nonexistent and the aroma is lightly citrus – not terribly sweet, but also not displeasing. Actually, the aroma is probably the best aspect of this beer thus far – subdued with hints of citrus and a bit of bite. In the mouth, this beer isn’t bad, but it is a bit disappointing. There is a decent carbonation bite and there are light hints of citrus and sweetness. But, beyond that, this beer is terribly simple. It’s lacking in spice tones and it tastes like the fermentation might have even been a bit off. Basically, it’s just a really run-of-the-mill witbier that tastes like something that many homebrewers could crank out in the basement. Granted, this would be a GOOD batch of homebrew if I were to have made it. But, since St. Bernardus has made some really blockbuster beers in the past, and since this 10 ouncer cost me $4, I really expected something special. So, this will certainly be the last time I drink this particular variety from St. B. However, they still have an overall winning record, so I’ll just put this away and pretend it never happened.
We’ve hit on this before at sevenpack, but there is another article discussing the “perfect storm” of rising hop and malt prices and its affect on brewers. Unfortunately the full article is only available to paid subscribers but I did find this interesting quote in the article:
“Our concern is, this price is too high for the consumer, and instead of picking up their favorite microbrewery, they’ll go back to 30-pack bottles and cans,” said Jay Herbert, owner of Holyoke-based Paper City Brewery.
I don’t actually believe this will happen. If anything the consumer might not purchase as much of their favorite microbrew, but I don’t think they will substitute with a macrobrew 30- pack. I recently did a comparison between Czechvar (ie Budvar) and Budweiser, look for the review shortly, and I couldn’t even finish the 22 of Budweiser, it tasted so bad. So for a microbrew drinker to completely switch to macrobrew, would be a heck of a leap. It would be for me anyway.
Though not as well written as the above article, there is also this news report which hits on the same theme (and the article is free).
Businessweek has an interesting article about craft brewers becoming more business-savvy. Seems more craftbrewers are hiring business consultants for dealing with distribution contracts, material purchase contracts, and other business functions, besides “running mainly on intuition”. As long as the craftbrewers stay creative with their beers, better business practices can not hurt things.
Flying Dog Brewery (official site | sevenpack reviews) is moving the remaining 30% of their beer production from their Denver, CO brewery to their Frederick, MD brewery. Their HQ will remain in Denver however. One reason for this production move, as mentioned in Eric Warner’s post, is the fact they “are facing unprecedented cost pressures due in large part to the tremendous hop and malt cost increases”.
Overturned beer truck = happy vendors