Friday, August 22, 2014

Guinness Blonde American Lager

I was invited to Guinness' launch of their new Guinness Blonde American Lager at Biscayne Tavern last week. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it as I was down the shore vacationing with my family. Blonde American Lager is the first in a new series called the Discovery Series. As I was unable to make the tasting, I figured out a way to have a few samples waiting for me when I returned from my trip.

But when I opened the box, there were two unlabeled bottles and no supporting marketing materials. I pretty much figured that one of you guys sent me some homebrew to check out (which is fine). I did finally find a stamp that told me it was Guinness and that it's a sample not for sale. I don't know a lot more other than it's brewed in Latrobe, PA (I saw a few reputable places online say that).

I grabbed my new Concrete Beach Guinness drinking glass and cracked open one of the bottles. Grainy, buttered toast aroma. Flavors start the same, with lots of grain and more of the buttered toast, lightly sweet. Hints of vanilla and butterscotch fade in and out, along with hints of fruit. A grassy bitterness answers the initial sweetness, nicely balancing the beer. Good body, nice prickly carbonation. More of that fruity apple lingers in the aftertaste. Pretty good. I liked it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale

Ed Roberts and his family were over for some burgers and beers a few weeks ago. Ed brought the Westbrook Rhubarb Remix, the Cantillon Lou Pepe, the Brooklyn Cuvee Noire, and the Intuition Ale Underdark Imperial Stout. Yeah, I know! But he also left behind a bunch of Leinenkugel shandy varieties and this one I'm trying today: Orlando Brewing's Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale.

The brewery tells a little story on the back, how they only brew what they want to drink. Oh, and how all the organic stuff that goes into this beer results in DARN GOOD BEER. Holy chunks of yeast! We're talking mega floaties. Sweet grapefruit and orange fruity aroma. Much maltier flavors than expected--lots of caramel and a strong herbal tea thing going on.

Underneath that malty base, however, was a big dose of grapefruit rind bitterness. It actually leaned more sour and astringent versus a fresh hoppy citrus flavor that I'd have preferred. So-so overall.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Squatters Wee Peat Scottish Ale

One of my friends at the Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City hooked me up again with a handful of samples to check out, some new and some repeats with their awesome new label art and packaging! I chose to try Squatters Wee Peat Scottish Ale first.

The golf-themed label is totally appropriate as I sit here watching the final round of the Wyndham Championship. A black and white close up of a dude sporting argyle socks and golf knickers is about to tap in for birdie (unlike Tiger Woods). The back label tells a little story to set your expectations. 5.6% alcohol.

Giving a nod to Wynwood Brewing's first year anniversary (which I just missed while on vacation), I poured the beer in their branded glass. Smoky and caramel filled aroma. Lots of smoky flavors in the beginning as well, but not ever annoying as is sometimes the case. Caramel and ripe plum sweetness are next, with hints of savory meaty bacon as well. At first that savory angle seemed a little much, but a few sips and some warmth made it an enjoyable nuance. Good body.

I don't see this in my South Florida home base any time soon, but this brewery is expanding out west and you can check them out in lots of places. As for this beer, definitely include it in a flight next time you're in town.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale

I saw one four pack of Cigar City's Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale a few weeks ago and decided to grab it. I didn't remember if I had tried it before or not. Apparently, I wrote this back in 2011 when they were still bottling this beer. This time, it's in a wrapped can that lost all the charm of the label art. Boo! Brewed with vanilla, cacao and coffee beans. 5.5% alcohol.

Great aroma: rich chocolate, wonderful coffee and a nice sweetness. Big mocha and chocolate flavors come first, riding a wave of creamy smoothness. Great texture! Coffee is present but not too big, especially considering the beer's name. Hints of vanilla also make an appearance as does a light roast.

Body is on the low end while carbonation is low but fine. Nice flavors, though I honestly prefer the regular Maduro Brown Ale without any added twists.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Saranac High Peaks Clouded Dream

Today I'm trying Saranac High Peaks Clouded Dream, a hybrid IPA/Belgian style white ale brewed by Matt Brewing Company in Utica or Buffalo, New York. I really like this High Peaks series, so I asked to be sent this newest edition by the brewery. Voila!

Considering the style,  I think the name is perfect for this unfiltered beer. And the electric aqua-blue tint shown on the label's clouds really makes you think of dreaming. The back of the label tells a little story about wheat and oats and citrus, and it finishes with some beer stats. 7.3% alcohol is probably the one you were looking for!

Belgian yeast and wheat prominent in the nose, but after a few whiffs, you can really smell the coriander and orange, both sweet and citrusy. Wheat flavors also dominate the beginning. They are met by some tangy orange and spicy coriander. A light alcohol dryness comes before a powerful citrus finish that totally cleanses the palate.

Sweet and bitter, not really a balance of the two. Just a seesaw swinging back and forth (to mix a few metaphors). Good flavors but there is a lingering sour lemony touch that I don't love after each sip. Overall, nice beer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beer Camp Across America: Double Latte

I'm checking out Beer #12 in Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America series this year. For me, that is their collaboration with Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing: Double Latte. This beer is a coffee milk stout brewed with lactose. The story on the back sets your expectations and lets you know the coffee comes from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. 7.6% alcohol. 60 IBUs. Packaged 05/30/14.

Sugary sweet mocha and rich chocolate aroma with a big dose of coffee. Yum! The flavors are much less sweet, though there is certainly a creamy sugary background throughout. Rather, plenty of roasted coffee bitterness is the featured attraction. You may taste hints of smoke and a little chocolate, but coffee is the star. A good dose of alcohol hits at the finish as well. Full flavored and coats the palate very nicely.

I personally would have rather seen less coffee bitterness and more chocolate sweetness, yet this was still the best beer of this year's Beer Camp series!