Archive for December, 2007
Up next from the BOMC is this little diddy from Belgium. I expect this to be more robust and complex than its French counterpart from Thiriez because. I mean come on, Geants translates to “Giant.” Giant Christmas = giant beer. It weighs in at a hefty 8.5% abv and that my friends it nothing to scoff at. Here’s some more cool info from the importer’s site. The brewery is housed in a castle, which is totally awesome, in the southern portion of Belgium AND this is a brand new brew for 2007.
This beer has a deep and hazy copper hue. The head created is extremely frothy and if your aren’t careful you’ll overflow the glass. The scent is heavy with nutmeg and has a lemony zest. The taste is much thicker than the Biere de Noel. There are some citrus undertones but the majority of the flavor centers around spice, dark fruits and a malt backbone. There is a sweetness that works in concert with nutmeg to create a bitter taste that attacks the sides of the tongue. Furthermore, the malt creates a heavy mouthfeel as it coats the entire palate. The aftertaste has a slight nuttiness at times, but it isn’t consistent with every sip. This is a very complex brew that deserves to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. I was hoping for a touch of vanilla but other than that I have no complaints. If you are new to the craft brew scene I wouldn’t cut my teeth on this beer but if you are a seasoned beer connoisseur you will probably like it a lot. Merry Giant Christmas everyone!
This is probably the last review of a 2007 hop season fresh/wet hop beer for me. If a fresh/wet hop beer has not reached this part of the country yet, it probably will not.
Poured from the tap into a tulip glass the beer was a clear amber in color. The head was roughly a finger and produced a strata of stickage as the beer went down my gullet. There was a light floral hop presence in the nose, but the majority of the smell was of citrus/grapefruit. This grapefruit maintained its presence in the taste, but there was a hint of lemon at the front of the tongue. The bitterness of the beer seemed to be omni-present (the warrior hop is an american bittering hop) in the mouth, with a slight bite at the back. The malt had a tough time coming through and it only barely did. I have had bigger hop bombs, but I have also had more balanced IPAs. This beer seemed to fall somewhere in-between. Interesting to try, though I did not have a second round.
This new brew from SweetWater apparently has an interesting story. It sounds like this brew began as a Pilsner. However, during the fermentation cycle, the brew ‘blew a tire’, and an ale yeast was added to try and save the batch. Thus is born the “Road Trip”. Sounds like an interesting combination, and one I’m anxious to try!
The Road Trip pours an opaque golden color with little apparent carbonation, save in the thin stark white head. This actually looks very much like a Belgian witbier in the glass, although I imagine it won’t taste quite so similar. The aroma of this is actually very pleasing. It is lightly sweet with just a hint of lemon zest. There isn’t a lot of hop here, although some of that lemony scent may be attributed to a nice citrus hoppiness. In the mouth, this beer is a little crazy. Initially, the beer seems subdued and lightly sweet. However, about one second into the drink, there is an absolute explosion of bitter/metallic/hoppy/bladow! This flavor seems like a big combination of hops and pilsner malt and some odd creation resulting from the aforementioned recipe. This isn’t bad, but it also isn’t like anything else I’ve taste. The bitterness also has a sourness to it, so it might not suit someone into sweeter beers. However, hopheads or fans of a sour lambic might have a serious draw to this. It is very interesting, and quite tasty to the right palate. And, I have to give a hats-off to SweetWater for saving what would’ve been a botched batch. So, while I don’t recommend this to just anyone, I think any fan of adventurous brews might find this an interesting thing to try.
This is a new (to me) Samuel Adams beer from their Brewmaster’s Collection. Typically, when Sam Adams goes out on a limb with a special release, it’s pretty good. Frankly, I am, without fail, more impressed by their special releases than anything that is regular production. While this is a slightly sad fact, it does lend a certain excitement whenever I see one of these new special offerings on the shelf. This particular beer appeared on a grocery store shelf for me just about a week ago. I’m anxious to see how it is!
The pour of this brew is a slightly cloudy golden with a surprising effervescence – tiny bubbles seem to explode from the bottom of the glass, giving this a rather festive appearance. The aroma of this Pale Ale is a pleasing blend of malt and hop. There is a citrusy bitterness melded with a sweet bready aroma, and they both present themselves in nearly equal amounts – this lends the beer a pleasant and accessible scent. In the mouth, this beer isn’t quite as bodacious as I expected, but it IS packed with flavor. There is initially a sweet maltiness to the brew that quickly merges into a light lemony sourness. This sourness then subsides into a hoppy bitterness that isn’t terribly floral, but not metallic either. Rather, it’s more of a citrus hop with an slight acidic tinge. Into the aftertaste, a thick sourness remains with an offsetting sweetness that sticks to the back of the mouth. All this DOES make this sound like a pretty big beer. However, each of these flavors is presented rather mildly. They are each easy to pick out, and none of them will slip through the cracks, but none of them smack you in the face. So, what we have is a complex and subdued brew that is at once accessible and fairly titillating. Ultimately, I think this is another victory for Sam Adams – it’s rare you see such an accessible beer with such a melange of flavors.
Like I said a few reviews ago we are backed up on Beer of the Month Club beers so it is gonna be all BMC all the time. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but we do have 4 new brews in the December batch and since Ben is MIA here at Two Times Brewery I have the pleasure of reviewing all of them. This month’s selections include two Christmas ales, an IPA and Scottish Porter. Quite an eclectic bunch if I may say so myself. Our first beer comes from the country of France. I don’t know a lick of french but I visited the Thiriez website anyway and if I’m using my context clues correctly this brewery appears to be a newbie to the craft beer scene. It began just 11 years ago and when compared to other breweries in Europe it is just a fetus. That being said let’s see what it has to offer.
This Christmas ale pours a clear goldennish-copper. There is very little head to speak of and white coating that does develop quickly disappears. It smells of lemon peel and coriander with a hint of spice. As Christmas ales go I would have expected more cinnamon and nutmeg but it aroma is enticing all the same. The taste is absolutely exquisite. The citrusy flavors take center stage as they surround the tongue and crawl up the cheeks. The spice component is subtle but apparent enough to complement the orange and lemon. There is also an earthy flavor that tickles the back of the tongue and then rises through the back of the mouth. I must say I really like this beer. The taste is light and addicting and it packs a slight punch at 6% abv. Ben better get back here quick or I am liable to drink all three. Thanks BMC for this excellent beer.
Two more fresh/wet hop beers have recently crossed my palate. This post will be for the Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, and
I’ll post about the Left Hand “Warrior” IPA shortly here is the post about Left Hand “Warrior” IPA.
Interesting note about the Sierra Nevada is the fact it was America’s first fresh hop beer, first brewed back in 1996. Learn something new every day, even from a beer label.
Enough with the label, poured from the bottle into a pint glass the beer has a chunky off-white head with an amber hued body. The head faded to a thin covering leaving a nice stickage along the way. The aroma, hops. Nice bit of pine notes, with some slight citrus value (lemon?), though predominantly pine. When in the mouth it feels rather light. There is a nice pine value to the hop taste with a bitterness at the back of the mouth. There is definitely some malt but the hops take center stage, though these hops are not over powering as in other beers.
I found the beer to be refreshing and “laid back”. Though the hops take center stage, I didn’t feel blown away by them, though they were not necessarily balanced with anything else. It still gets a recommendation from me. Of all the fresh/wet hop beers, this has been the easiest to re-obtain, as I’ve seen it in numerous stores in my area. Pick up a six, and taste the oldest (it is the eleventh edition of the beer) American wet hop beer around!
This is going to be a follow up to my ‘The “wet hop” challenge’ post. After some searching, I was able to get my hands on a six pack of Great Divide’s Denver Pale Ale (DPA). Unfortunately by this time, I was unable to get another bottle of Great Divide Fresh Hop. Can’t win for trying. So this will just be a review of the DPA by itself, with a summary comparison with the Fresh Hop done via my notes.
Fortunately I picked up a six pack of this beer because the first bottle I opened was completely funked. It seems the bottle was not properly filtered because there were large pieces of debris floating in the beer. If you find a beer that looks like this and smells of hoppy-brewed raspberries, you have a bad beer.
Anyway, cracking into a second bottle the beer poured a bit on the dark side for a Pale Ale with a nice red-brown color. The beer had a ‘tan, chunky head of two fingers, which took some time to dissipate. The body was a bit hazy with nice, little debris floating throughout.
In the nose a nice floral hops aroma was up front, with a hint of lemon. The aroma was rounded out with a bread/grape-nuts/fresh grain back and some caramel sweetness.
In the mouth the beer had a certain robustness to it, especially for a pale ale. The hops, with its citrus value, provided a nice beginning which led to the sweet malt finish. There was a nice earthy bitterness for the beer, not over powering but definitely present.
Once again Great Divide provides another well balanced beer. It seems the DPA is a bit hoppier and darker then a ‘normal’ pale ale, but it still does a great job at balancing itself out. If I was looking for something with a nice hop presence and balance, I would have no issue reaching for this beer again. Now compared to the Fresh Hop Pale Ale (based off my notes), I would say the defining factor between the two would be the hops. The Fresh Hop Pale Ale had a stronger presence of hops (pine aroma, compared to lemon aroma), which is to be expected from a wet hop beer. Still wish I could have tried them side by side, but there is always next year.
Hey guys – it’s Ben again from GA. I’m unfortunately not even at home to drink the BOMC beers this month. But, I have been made aware that the Messiah Bold was the 4th one included in last month’s shipment. It appears that Matty reviewed this one quite a while back, so we’ll hearken back to his previous review here. Thanks again to the folks at BOMC for this month’s batch, and I’m going to short-sheet Matt’s bed if he doesn’t save me a bottle or two…
This is the third installment from the November Beer of the Month Club pack. Like I said this box was chalked full of dark beers with the porter being the darkest of all. This brewery hails from Salt Lake City, Utah which is surprising to me because that city is 99.9% Mormon and they don’t drink beer. My question is who’s buying this stuff? Either they have a lot of non-mormon tourists or there are a lot of closet mormon beer drinkers. For those that care, this brewery is economically friendly as it is 100% wind powered which, according to their website, prevents “the release of 888,000 lbs (444 tons) of carbon dioxide a year. It is the equivalent of planting 174 acres of trees (87,180 trees) annually or not driving 951,270 miles.”
It’s a porter folks, I don’t need to tell you it looks like used motor oil. Furthermore, in true porter fashion is smells and tastes like dark chocolate. It’s mildly bitter and smokey and thus there isn’t anything surprising about this beer. It is “what we thought they were.” I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a porter, not a bad porter, but in my book just a porter. I’m not as familiar why this style so I can’t pick out the intricate characteristics but I can say it is drinkable. I anticipate getting hammered by the readers like I did in the past because I don’t “appreciate” this genre as much as others so bring it on, I’m ready. One thing I can say is it’s unique to me because we can’t get this particular brew on the east coast. All in all this is a decent beer but not outstanding to me.
I live down the street from a nice beer bar with a consistently interesting and revolving tap list. The beer manager for the bar, who also works as one of the bartenders, I find quite knowledgeable, so when he suggested I try a beer he found “very interesting” I knew I was in for a treat.
The first thing was figuring out who actually brewed the beer. The menu had written ‘WinterCoat “Double Hop” IPA, Denmark’. I thought WinterCoat was the name of the beer, and the double hop was in reference to it being an imperial IPA styled brew (ie WinterCoat IPA would be their standard IPA). It turns out, WinterCoat is actually the name of the brewery, which definitely qualifies as an “interesting” brewery name in my book.
With the beer name befuddlement out of the way, I tackled the beer. Poured from the tap into a tulip glass there was a two and a half finger of off white head, sitting on top of the light amber, cloudy beer. The head slowly receded, leaving a light stickage as it went, to a covering that was thin in the middle but thicker where the beer met the glass wall.
The nose had a nice floral hop to it that, as the head dissipated, transformed into a pleasant peasant bread smell. The sweet smell of the bread was enhanced by the faintest hint of banana fruit.
As I took my first sip, there was a definite hop presence, but not as big and robust as an American Imperial IPA. This was a subtle hop presence, which moved to a spice flavoring in the middle of the mouth. The beer finished with a nice bitter presence, mixed with a bread/yeast combination. The mouth feel of the beer was a medium presence with a certain “coarseness” to it, brought on, I believe, by the yeast presence.
Overall a very interesting, and enjoyable beer but definitely not a beer you would want to end the night on. The aroma’s and flavoring are just too subtle for an ending beer. Unfortunately, I first had this beer after having a casked Imperial Stout. I knew there was something to the Double Hop beer but I was missing it due to my taste buds being “tinged” by the previous stout. To right this wrong, I went back the following night and had just this beer. I’m very glad I did.
As a small brewery in Denmark, their production is not large and distribution is sparse here in America (the website mentions their first shipment of beer to America was in December of 2006 with just 16 casks). If however you are interested in an Imperial IPA which is not the typical hop bomb American Imperial IPA, I would definitely recommend searching this beer out. It was a subtle drink to enjoy as I watched the snow flakes fall outside.
This is the second of the Brazilian brews in the November pack from the Beer of the Month Club. According to wikipedia (who’s information is sometimes suspect at best given that ANYONE can edit the site) eisenbahn means railroad in German. The proprietors of this brewery chose this name because they are using an old railroad station as their bar/brewery. Take that for what it’s worth. I went to the Eisenbahn website to see where they distribute. Currently their only distributor is in Massachusetts so unless they expand many of you won’t have the opportunity to try their products so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The Defumada is a smokey lager. I imagined this beer would be dark but in fact it has a copper color. So I thought the Escura had a smokey smell but this outranks it in smokiness by leaps and bounds. It’s as if I was standing over a barbeque pit. Kinda makes me want to eat some slow-cooked ribs…The Defumada has a much bolder flavor than its dark lager counterpart. The smokey, charcoal flavor fills the mouth and travels into the nasal passage. There is an apparent hoppiness to this beer as the taste has some strong floral characteristics. This beer is bold, earthy and quite good. I can appreciate a complex brew but sometimes it’s just too much. This beer is simple and yet has enough flavor to satisfy the palate. This isn’t a beer I would normally pick up if I was just strolling through the beer store but I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it and if I run across it again I might grab a sixer just to mix it up a little.
This brew comes to us from the good folks at the Beer of the Month Club. The November reviews are a little belated to here /forthcoming none the less. November’s selections are all dark beers, I’m assuming in honor of the cold months ahead. I was surprised to find that two of the beers are produced by a Brazilian craft brewery. The Beer of the Month Club never ceases to seek out rare brews and offer its custumers something a little out of the ordinary. I know we’ve said this multiple times but the BOMC really does put out a great product. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to receiving a box of beer each month. For those of you looking for gift ideas for your beer lover a “subscription” to the BOMC is a great choice. As Cousin Eddie once said, “It’s the gift that keeps giving all year long…”
The Escura is a dark lager from south of the border, South America that is. As its name suggests it pours with a dark brown hue with a large caramel head. It smells smoky and has some “bacony” undertones. The aroma isn’t overly aggressive but there is certainly a thickness to the smell. The taste is relatively subtle, the most noticeable characteristic being the wetness of liquid. Most of the flavor announces itself at the back of the tongue and throat. Initially there is a nutty sweetness that rounds out into the smokiness boasted in the smell. The aftertaste is more flavorful than the actual beer. There is a bitter chocolate taste that coats the throat and lingers until the next sip. This is a light, and very drinkable dark lager. I think it could serve as a session beer on a cold night, but if you are looking for something bold this wouldn’t suit your tater. If nothing else you can say you had a beer from Brazil which in my book is an achievement in itself.
After the deluge of sampler packs that I reviewed a few weeks back, I find that I’m stranded in a desert where I feel lucky to find any drop of brew that isn’t brewed in Milwaukee. So, tonight I was happy to stumble upon the SweetWater Blue down at the local Kroger – they had been sold out of the SweetWater brews for the past few weeks. The Blue is a beer that I’ve always found pleasant, despite some friends of mine claiming that it really “ain’t all that”. Really, if it means that I’m a bit of a pansy for enjoying a fruit beer, so be it.
The Blue, in fact, doesn’t pour blue at all, so don’t get your hopes up for a color explosion. Instead, it pours a clear golden color. The “Blue” namesake is, in fact, indicative of the blueberries that are infused into this beer, and these berries are immediately apparent in the aroma that is lightly sweet and full of fruit. In the mouth, the blueberries are again on a prominent display. While the beer has a heavy initial carbonation burn that shocks the tongue a bit, that shock is quickly soothed by the cool sweetness of the blue. There is a light grainy sweetness to this that is rounded out by a big blueberry flavor. The aftertaste is actually very clean, with just a hint of the blueberry remaining on the tongue and almost no noticeable hop presence. All in all, I think SweetWater does a fabulous job of offering a fruit beer that showcases the fruit prominently without making it overbearing or tacky. Often such beers can taste fake or the fruit can come across tasting a bit syrupy. In this case, however, the flavor is fresh and authentic and subdued enough that you can easily drink a few of these. One of my favorite domestic fruit beers, in fact. Well done, SweetWater!