Archive for September, 2009
Dave - September 28, 2009
The 2009 winners of the Brewers Association’s Great American Beer Festival have been announced. For the full list of winners you can visit greatamericanbeerfestival.com, but below is a list of winning beers we have reviewed here at sevenpack. Congrats to all the brewers, and one of these days I will actually make the festival.
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Coors Brewing Company, Golden, CO; Dr. David Ryder
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year: Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD; Robert Malone
Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year: Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA; Pizza Port Brew Guys
Category: 3 American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast, 43 Entries
Bronze: UFO Hefeweizen, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA
Category: 7 Specialty Beer, 21 Entries
Gold: Chateau Jiahu, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Silver: Palo Santo Marron, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Category: 9 Specialty Honey Beer, 36 Entries
Bronze: Midas Touch, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Category: 10 Session Beer, 27 Entries
Bronze: Bam Biere, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI
Category: 13 Out of Category – Traditionally Brewed Beer, 82 Entries
Silver: Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Category: 14 Gluten Free Beer, 10 Entries
Silver: Redbridge, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Saint Louis, MO
Category: 18 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 110 Entries
Silver: Barrel Aged Gonzo, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Category: 28 American Style Light Lager, 25 Entries
Gold: Budweiser Select, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Saint Louis, MO
Category: 29 American-Style Lager or Premium Lager, 34 Entries
Silver: Miller High Life, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Totally Naked, New Glarus Brewing Co, New Glarus, WI
Category: 32 German Style Märzen, 45 Entries
Gold: Dogtoberfest, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Category: 38 German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 21 Entries
Gold: The Kaiser, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Silver: Samuel Adams Double Bock, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Category: 39 Baltic-Style Porter, 16 Entries
Gold: Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Inc., Farmville, NC
Category: 42 English-Style Summer Ale, 33 Entries
Bronze: True Blonde Ale, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Category: 46 American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 70 Entries
Gold: Racer 5 IPA, Bear Republic Factory Five, Cloverdale, CA
Category: 78 Barley Wine Style Ale, 54 Entries
Bronze: Old Ruffian Barley Wine, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Dave - September 28, 2009
This news is a bit old, but I recently happened across it. It turns out Westmalle Abbey and New Belgium Brewing Company own and control the ringed bottle trademark. I did not realize a/numerous ring(s) around a bottle actually signified a brewery, and neither did Brooklyn Brewery. The article does not go into a lot of detail but I found it interesting none-the-less. I wonder if the trademark only applies to rings around the neck of the bottle or the whole bottle (for example a ring around where the label is, or two rings ‘enclosing’ the label)?
Dave - September 27, 2009
Sierra Nevada makes some top notch beers, so I was quite interested in their latest year round release, Torpedo Extra IPA. Now I do not know if I was looking in the wrong places, or it sold out real quick, but I could never seem to find the beer on store shelves. Fortunately, after traveling to Maine, the stars finally aligned and I was able to purchase a six pack of this beer.
For those who do not know, Torpedo is a reference to the device, “conceived, designed and developed at the brewery”, used to dry hop the beer. Why did they have to come up with something of their own design? Unlike most breweries, who use hop extracts or pellets, Sierra Nevada uses whole-cone hops all the way through the brewing process (a fact I was unaware of… thank you press release). Sierra Nevada felt they could improve upon dry hopping with whole-cones and the “hop torpedo” was born. I would be interested in actually seeing the hop torpedo, but I can not seem to find a picture of it (searching for hop torpedo only returns photos of the Sierra Nevada bottle). Lets find out if the torpedo is mere marketing gimmick or hop revolution.
Poured into a pint glass the beer produced a pillowy, snow-white head, held aloft by tons of fast moving bubbles. These bubbles rose through a crystal clear copper body and kept the head alive for so long I lost track of time. This prolonged head provided ample time to inhale the beer’s aromas. Pine is the first smell that registered, but it was not an overpowering pine presence, like so many strong IPAs. I found the pine more reminiscent of fallen pine needles, and not pine sap. Along with the pine was a light earth characteristic, musty in character, a hint of fresh crackers, and hop spice.
Pine actually started the beer’s taste profile off, but I think that was more from me inhaling the beer’s aromas as I took a sip then any type of pine taste. As the beer moved through my mouth the beer provided a cracker and bread hybrid taste mid-tongue, with a spike of pine based bitterness to finish. As I progressed through the beer, leaving a visually pleasing strata of foam along the glass walls, the earthy mustiness, noticed in the nose, grew in strength. It never becomes overpowering, because I continued to notice the other flavor characters, but the beer definitely progressed in its flavor profile. The beer’s last swigs reminded me of a hoppy ESB.
This beer was certainly worth the wait. The beer definitely profiles the hops, but the hops do not come across as hitting you in the face, which so many current Imperial/Double/Extra IPAs do. Complex, with its taste progression, but very enjoyable and easy to drink, I can not wait to pick up another six pack of this beer.
Dave - September 25, 2009
Ed. Note from Ben: Hey you guys – I hate to butt in, but did you realize that this is our 1,000th review here at SevenPack? With a gentle whimper, my beleaguered liver raises its fist in victory…
Though Ben and Matt have found Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale favorable (at least when compared with a bunch of non-pumpkin beers), I have not. Of the few times I have had that beer, I always found it disagreeable, especially in its spice character (I do not seem to be alone in this feeling). With this trepidation I picked up Shipyard’s new pumpkin beer Smashed Pumpkin, which is a part of their Pugsley’s Signature Series.
In the snifter the beer was a clear amber with a thin white head that quickly died to nothing. Even without a robust head, or any head at all for that matter, the smell of the beer was enticing. A smell of nutmeg took center stage in the beer’s aroma profile. Secondary characters in the beer’s aroma play were freshly cut pumpkin, cinnamon, lightly caramelized sugar, and wisps of alcohol. The beer definitely had a pumpkin pie flavor, which was more balanced spice-wise then the aroma lets on. Smooth and light, the pumpkin pie flavoring encompassed my whole mouth, and even stuck around for a few minutes for a pleasurable aftertaste. As the beer warmed it became a bit harsher and took on a light spiced rum character. The alcohol never became a distraction however, even if it is at nine percent.
I did enjoy this beer and my earlier trepidations were unfounded. Though I prefer my pumpkin beers with a little more malt “pie crust” profile, this beer was definitely a step in the right direction for Shipyard.
Well, well – it has turned into a veritable Belgian Stout fest around here the last couple of days. Last night I tried out the Magic Hat seasonal variety – tonight I try out a bomber of Allagash that has been sitting in my fridge for quite some time.
This one pours a very deep chocolate brown, though not overbearingly so, with a semi-dense off-white head that flares up but eventually simmers down to a light coating on the beer. The aroma here is rather fruity and has only the slightest hint of aniseed and chocolate on the nose. In the mouth, this beer isn’t near as viscous as I’d expect from the genre. On the contrary, it slides easily through the mouth, not really sticking to the tongue or mouth much at all. The flavor here is oddly tart for a stout, though combined with some decent chocolate and toffee hints that give it an interesting combination of the rich and dark with the cherry sours. It *is* a good stout. It has a richness of flavor, though it isn’t adequately complemented by the texture of the beer. I do especially like the tartness of the cherry flavors, as it cuts any residual richness, though it’d be much more effective if the richness of flavor were combined with a greater richness of texture. Overall, I would have to say that the Magic Hat from last night put this beer to shame. This is a tough thing to say, as these Allagash bombers cost a premium and Magic Hat is relatively affordable. But, hey, the tastebuds don’t lie…
Dave - September 23, 2009
Soon after my “Beautiful Beer Bottle Labels” post comes the above label (courtesy of Beernews.org). I cannot fully explain why I like that label so much, but it certainly is a good one. Anyway, beernews.org has some more information about the beer and, unfortunately, it is not good news (at least for us here at sevenpack). When compared to ‘Northern California, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania’ this limited release beer will only get a very limited release in MA and NC (if any release at all). Hopefully we will be able to score at least one bottle of this stuff. If not… there is always other beers to review!
Every now and again, the nice folks at Magic Hat will send us a sneak preview of a beer we may or may not wind up having access to here in North Carolina. Frankly, I’m unsure if this particular brew will make it here or not, but I can tell you that it’s the Magic Hat beer that I’ve been most excited about in quite some time. I like a good stout. I don’t necessarily *love* a good stout, but I like one. And, almost without fail, I prefer the Belgian takes on this particular genre, as they often have a fruity/tangy/yeasty tinge that you just won’t find in the more popular Irish, English, or American varieties. So, I’m pretty happy to see what Magic Hat has done with the genre.
This pours a motor oil syrupy black with a thick and luscious caramel head that looks just delicious. In the nose, there is a ton of chocolate here, with some interesting bitter and dark fruit hints that are reminiscent of a black forest cherry desert – very fine indeed. In the mouth, this beer is a blast of flavor that I haven’t had in some time since I’ve been focusing on summer beers lately. Initially, there is slightly cloying sweetness that is redolent of a Belgian yeast flavor that you Belgian fans will recognize. This flavor quickly moves to a bittersweet chocolate flavor with an earthy backbone that rides down the tongue before moving to the more sugary flavor of dark cherry and maybe some red grape. The combination of the earthy chocolaty tones and the dark fruit persist down the throat and stick around in an aftertaste that just won’t quit.
Really, this beer tastes so much bigger than its 6.2% abv would give away. The flavor here is so huge, and it has such a yeasty presence and blaze of flavor through the mouth, that I’m tempted to call it Imperial. However, it turns out that, considering what it’s doing to the tastebuds, this stuff is practically sessionable for a stout (though don’t session too hard). I must say that this is the most impressive Magic Hat beer that I’ve had in a long time – maybe ever. Hats off to a company that, previously, had only won me over on their lighter beers like the #9. This brew is proof that these guys can play in the ballsier dark beer arena.
Dave - September 22, 2009
A couple weeks back NPR had an article entitled “Craft Beer In A Can? A Gutsy Move Is Paying Off“. Nothing overly new and revolutionary is discussed in the article (summary: craft beer in cans is a spreading phenomenon) but I did find this interesting:
…the pub invested in a small hand-canning system….
I did not realize there were such things as hand-canning systems. After a quick search, I happened to find Cask Brewing Canning Systems and their Manual Canning System. The page has a description and short video clip about the system. Not really what I was expecting, I was thinking it would require a hand turned crank to seal the tops to the cans (does such a system exist?), but still interesting. Not sure how much the full rig would set one back (and, when compared to washing out old glass bottles, empty cans would become expensive) but it would make one hell of an addition to a home brew setup.
With all this talk about canning let me point out we did a beer can week a while back.
[Hat tip to The Brew Site where I first read about the npr article, and happens to be in the midst of their second "canned beer week".]
Dave - September 21, 2009
Back in early June I spent some time at Walt Disney World with my wife. There for business and pleasure I did not hold out much hope for any type of craft beer selection. I was pleasantly surprised however, with at least some craft beer options. The Dolphin’s (hotel we stayed at) pool side bar had Bell’s Oberon (along with some other craft bottles which escape my memory). The ESPN bar down on the Boardwalk (a short walk from our hotel) had a couple Boston Beer options, a Dogfish Head beer, and a couple other craft beer bottles for order. Not a plethora of craft beer, but every little bit is nice.
Another bar along the Boardwalk was Big River Grille and Brewing Works, a chain brew-pub operated by Gordon Biersch. Always interested in brew-pub fare, I visited the establishment a few times.
Clean and bright, with a couple of flat screen TVs playing random sport channels around the bar area, describes the atmosphere well. I found the bar staff friendly and knowledgeable about the beers on tap. The food was prepared well, and I would qualify it as slightly diversified pub food. As for the beer I tried three offerings over my visits: Rocket Red, Wowzers Wheat, and Amber Ale.
Ironically enough the beer I enjoyed the most, Rocket Red, was the beer I forgot to take notes on. From vague memories, I remember enjoying the slightly citrus hop notes mixed with light caramel flavors, which made the beer quite refreshing.
Their Wowzer’s Wheat, which was offered with orange or lemon but not automatically given… points for that, had a tight white head sitting a top a slightly-hazy light golden body. Wheat and clove aromas dominate the air with a hint of sour mixed in for good measure. The taste is a continuation of the aroma with no surprises. The beer flows light over the tongue with a slight tingle from the carbonation.
The final beer was their Amber Ale. The hops used in this beer were the same used in their Rocket Red, while the malts were the same as those in their Sweet Magnolia Brown Ale. A tight off-white head that died pretty quick, leaving islands of thin bubbles. The body was rather dark, leaning towards a rich amber-brown, with a light haze. The nose was a mixture of citrus hop and caramel and brown malt, all light in character. For the taste the malts take center stage, over powering the hop presence found in the beer’s aroma. Deep caramel and a rich “brown ale” character washed through my mouth with the slightest of carbonation tingle. Still the beer felt quite light, with a minimal aftertaste.
Though none of the beers possessed “my god that was amazing” qualities, all were competently made and enjoyable to drink. If you start tiring of Mickey while at Disney World, checking out Big River on the Boardwalk could be what is called for.
Dave - September 20, 2009
Another Harpoon beer has crossed my path recently, Crystal Wheat. Lets see if it fares better then the Leviathan Saison Royale.
In the hefe-glass the beer was a crystal clear golden color, with tons of champagne-esque bubbles coursing through its body. With all the bubbles I was expecting a long head retention, which was not the case with the first bottle but was with the second. Strange.
Anyway, emanating from the beer were aromas of lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. This lemon barrage continues in the taste department. The lemon flavoring, though sour in some regards, reminds me more of artificial lemon-creme found inside donuts. I tried finding other aromas and tastes but they seemed to be mere illusions of wheat, more then anything else. One positive for the beer, it was quite light in the mouth.
If you are a fan of lemon flavoring, this beer is right up your alley. If lemon is not your thing, steer clear.
Dave - September 19, 2009
With two recent favorable reviews of beers in Harpoon’s Leviathan series, I thought I would check out their most recent Leviathan release, Saison Royale.
In the tulip glass the beer poured a hazy golden orange with a white head. The aroma I could not place at first, so I took a sip. I still could not place the aroma and was not pleased in the least bit by the taste. The closest I could get to a description was orange (as in the fruit) and soap (as in what you clean with). I took a few more sips and by the time I reached a half-full glass I was truly displeased with the beer and almost decided not to finish it (I do not remember the last time such a thought past through my mind). I persevered through, but the experience never got better.
If you have agreed with my past Saison reviews, you should probably skip this beer. If you did not agree with past reviews, however, this beer might work for you. For me, this is a pass.
Dave - September 18, 2009
Dave - September 16, 2009
Just a quick post on some beers I am looking forward to (most links are to beernews.org because that is where I first saw them).
Magic Hat’s newest Odd Notion found in their latest 12-Pak, “Night of the Living Dead” (PDF). Alan, over at A Good Beer Blog, gave the Belgian Chocolate Stout Odd Notion good marks. Defintely on my beer radar.
Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada’s collaboration “Life &Limb”.
Avery’s new DIPA… duganA.
Back to American shores, Fantome’s Pissenlit. I had this beer once before, four or so years ago… must have been sitting on the shelves for a while, and found it very enjoyable. Glad to see its return. Now if I can actually find it on beer store shelves…
Troegs gets some pretty high marks (we only have two Troegs reviews? I thought we had more) from us here on Sevenpack (I walked into a random bar just because I saw a Troegs neon-sign in its window!) so their new Splinter Series is intriguing. Its too bad they are only available at the brewery. Road trip?
Not that I can get it around here but Big Boss Brewing Harvest Time has a great looking label, so I’d pick it up just for that! Something our N.C. readers should be on the look-out for.
White Birch Brewing, a one barrel brewery located in N.H., released their first beers a few weeks back. A one barrel brewery? I am just really intrigued by that fact, but I guess you have to start somewhere. Hopefully I’ll be able to check their stuff out some time.
Stone’s 09.09.09. No link necessary.
On a completely unrelated specific beer release note. A few weeks back I was at a local bar and noticed the first pumpkin beer on tap (Dogfish Head I believe). This happened to be the first, and only, week of summer (hot/sticky weather) here in New England, so definitely a shock to see a “fall” beer on tap. Then a week later the pumpkin beers seemed to have invaded store shelves and I was picking up the first Pumking of the season. Where does the time go?
It seems like I’m always waiting for dark beer season to end so I can get back to my tasty witbiers and hefeweizens. However, this year, I’m really psyched to get to the Octoberfest beers. I’ve had the opportunity to taste a few out at bars, and it has piqued my interest for what all the brewers put out this season. For this particular review, I was just looking for an inexpensive and tasty way to feed the Octoberfest monkey, and Saranac is almost always good for providing a pretty decent and well-priced beer…
This beer pours a clear and deep, deep golden color. I wouldn’t quite call this brown, but it’s pretty darn close. In the nose, there are a ton of those autumny Octoberfest spices. Seems like some nutmeg and cinnamon are involved, and they gently burn the nose in a good way. In the mouth, this is a rather generic, but very tasty, Octoberfest. It is well carbonated, which provides a nice tingle on the tongue. Initially, there is a great dark malt sweetness with some chocolatey tints. On through the mouth, the nutmeg and spice perk up along with just a slight bit of hop earthiness. Down the throat, the beer washes rather clean leaving around some of that spice and making me anxious for the next drink. Basically, this beer does what I wanted it to do. It isn’t experimental or too bodacious – it’s just a good ol’ plain Octoberfest. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to get all seasonal on a budget…
Dave - September 15, 2009
Here are a few beer related projects I have come across recently.
Home Brew Control System: Sure you could manually monitor all of the brewing steps, or you could swank out your setup with the BrewTroller, an open source brewing control system (originally seen on Hack A Day). From the Brew Troller site: “BrewTroller monitors temperature and volume of the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT), Mash Tun and Brew Kettle and controls heat sources, pumps and valves as needed in the brewing process.”
Kegerator Creation: Back in July Wired.com asked for reader submissions on how to “pimp out” the kegerator they were going to build. They received a bunch of submissions and got to work. In September they posted an article about how their kegerator, affectionally called “Beer Robot”, was built and a “How-To Wiki“. They also posted a photo montage of “extreme, custom and pimped-out kegerators“. All four articles are good reads and will definitely help anyone looking to start a kegerator project.
Tweeting Kegerator: Once you have your kegerator up and running, the kegerator might as well tweet (hell, we now do). SparkFun has a tutorial posted on how they accomplished such a task (originally seen on Hack A Day).