Archive for September, 2010
It’s rare these days that I offer up a review here on the SevenPack. It’s not that I no longer enjoy a tasty brew. It’s more a matter of time commitments and a lack of truly inspiring beers on the shelf. I enjoy that, lately, there are more phenomenal beers out there than ever. However, it seems that everyone is doing a different version of the same 20 beers we’ve been enjoying for the last few years. The only brewery I’ve found recently that is attempting to really push some boundaries is Fullsteam out of Durham, NC. However, they’re also a hometown brewery, so I’m a little bit biased. When I saw a new Dogfish Head brew hit the shelves (which doesn’t happen nearly often enough), I nearly sprang to the cash register to make my purchase. Dogfish Head is one of the reasons that I initially became a beer geek. They were putting out such novel and flavorful beers that it really excited my imagination. They’re still making these same great beers, but after tasting them so many times, the thrill is gone (so to speak). So, a new beer? A new adventure? I’m very excited to try this out…
The Bitches Brew pours a motor-oil black color with a beautiful dark caramel head. The aroma is rich and earthy with lots of molasses and root in the nose. The texture here is also great – it’s thick and viscous and coats the glass. In the mouth, my initial impression is of the mouthfeel. The beer is soft and smooth and coats the tongue, giving the impression of a very big flavor experience throughout the mouth. And, quite an impressive flavor there is. Initially, I’m struck by all of the things that make a true imperial stout great. It’s dark and burly and coats the mouth with aniseed and earthy flavors that are at once strong and sweet. On through the mouth, the feminine aspects of this beer are given more weight, as aspects of a light honey sweetness and fruit present themselves. It’s an interesting contrast of a syrupy beer with a lighter, transient sweetness – not a combination I’m familiar with. Neverthless, it works well. The big flavor of the stout coats the mouth and sticks around throughout, while the flitting sweetness seems to skip across the tongue, adding texture and complexity and then disappearing as quickly as it came. In the aftertaste, you can almost feel the honey sweetness dissipate while the bigger syrupy stout flavors stick around for many seconds after the beer is gone. Frankly, this isn’t that much different than the Chicory Stout, from what I can recall of that beer. However, it has its nuances, and it certainly turns the flavor up to 11. A beer like this, to me, is really the reason I started drinking good beer in the first place…
This review is for all our Boston, MA-area followers (all two… one… of you?) because Notch American Session Ale (NASA) only has draft accounts in the Boston-area (though ironically they brew out of Portland, ME). Now of the draft beer they produce I have had two of them thus far. First I had the Session Red a few months back. Unfortunately that beer’s notes are lost among a morass of beer coasters, notebooks and paper scraps (items all used for ‘laborious’ note taking). The next NASA beer I had was the Notch Hop Session on cask, and since I had this beer all of five days ago, the beer’s notes sit atop the aforementioned morass.
A pronounced, though pleasant, aroma of fruity hop goodness awoke my nostrils. Apricots, oranges, apples, and even some cherries, all mixed into a beautiful aroma. All of this emanated from a pillowy white head atop a clear, amber-orange bodied beer. In the mouth the beer ran fast and smooth. Along with the fruit notes, the beer’s taste had a lightly sweetened bread maltiness, and a tweak of black pepper spice. As the beer warmed the fruit aroma and taste progressed to a pine note with the aforementioned black pepper spice becoming a bit more pronounced. The beer finished with an earthy bitterness that left the palate dry, refreshed, and wanting another sip. Though the beer had a flavor profile of a British styled beer, it had a hop presence more indicative of the U.S. All of this was wrapped in a session capable 4.5% abv.
As mentioned, this beer (and brewery) is currently draft only at a few select bars in the Boston-area (they keep an updated list of said bars at their website). You would certainly be wise to check the beer out if you are in the vicinity of any of those select bars. However, if you can not swing a trip to the Boston-area, come Fall NASA will be releasing 22oz bottles of their beer, with 12oz bottles following in January (the brewer, unbeknown to me when I placed my beer order, was sitting at the other end of the bar, so we had a brief chat before I departed). Those bottles can not come soon enough in my book, because though sitting at a bar is fine, being able to enjoy this beer at home, or at a friend’s is icing on the cake.