Friday, September 30, 2011

Wasatch White Label Belgian-Style White Ale

Today I'm drinking Wasatch White Label Belgian-Style White Ale brewed by Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was a sample provided to me by the brewery. The label is, well, white (with gold accents. There is a simple grain twirly swirly design in the middle. The back label says they are going for "ultimate drinkability". Born 07/27/11.

Wheat aroma with bright lemon tartness and an unmistakeable coriander smell. Nice wheat flavors to start are brought out even more by a nicely prickly and aggressive carbonation. The coriander is also strong and accents the wheat flavors well. Lemony citrus is apparent and offers a little relief from the thick texture of the wheat. Simple, classic in style and presentation.

This is a nice, flavorful beer. The lightly bitter finish adds to the refreshment. The 6.0% alcohol is only noticeable as the finish is also a bit dry. More wheat flavors and texture are left behind on the palate. Check it out. Nicely done.

Frontier Coriander Seed Whole, 16 Ounce Bags (Pack of 3)

Brewing with Wheat (Brewing Technology) -- Stan Hieronymus

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Narragansett Fest Lager

Today I'm drinking Narragansett Fest Lager brewed by Narragansett Brewing Company in Rochester, New York. This beer comes in a pounder can and depicts Gambrinus, the Patron Saint of Beer, on its front. The back goes into a little more detail with a story. It tells that this beer is a tribute to him, a fitting salute as his statue used to stand outside their brewery. The can also makes sure you know this is "The Famous Narragansett... Since 1890".

Good sized head in my Bennigan's pint glass. I grabbed that glass because it's big enough to hold the 16 ounce contents. Toasty, grainy, nutty and buttery aroma. Caramel and buttered toast flavors start things off, slightly sweet in the beginning. Some nutty flavors also shine up front. Some hoppy bitterness does a great job of toning the sweetness to a refreshing balance. Light apple fruits and a faint spice round out the flavors.

The feeling in the mouth is also great, prickly yet not over-carbonated. This has a medium body yet retains a refreshing quality. As the beer warms, more nuttiness comes through and the beer seems a little sweeter. I preferred this much more right from the fridge, so keep that in mind when you crack this open. Very nice beer. Great flavors. Oh, and the 5.5% alcohol was more of an afterthought, as you can tell by where I am cramming this sentence.

1 Liter HB "Hofbrauhaus Munchen" Dimpled Glass Beer Stein

Beerfest (Unrated) -- Amazon Instant Video

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drakonic Imperial Stout

Today I'm drinking Drakonic Imperial Stout brewed by Drake's Brewing Company in San Leandro, California. This is the first beer I've tried from this brewery, and this bottle was sent to me by the famous SFGirl Melanie. The story on the side lets you know that these guys have been around a while, since 1989, and this "big malty beast of a beer exemplifies the way [they] roll [there] at Drake's." The cap and label also show some drakes, pairs of ducks, back to back. Not sure if that's how they named themselves but at least they are running with the theme. 40 IBUs. 8.75% alcohol.

Big head. Rich milk chocolate aroma with light coffee and roasted malt behind it. The initial flavors are chocolaty too with some toffee in the mix. The alcohol wastes no time introducing itself as a hefty player in this beer. At first it really thins out the sweet malty chocolate then immediately makes some vanilla and licorice complexities stand up and come out.

You know what else is really different about this imperial stout? It is pretty damn hoppy! Yeah there is a ton of chocolate and sweet malts, but between the coffee and roasted malty flavors and big hoppiness, this beer more than leans bitter. Balance is good, though I'd have preferred closer to neutral or even a little sweetness left behind.

The alcohol was also a bit hot and heavy handed. I wish it were incorporated better. Hot and hoppy isn't the ideal description for an imperial stout, at least the ones I dream about every night. There are certainly good flavors in this beer, but I have a few issues with the overall delivery. I am going to finish all of Big 22 but there are many better in the style.

Muntons Gold 40 Pint Beerkit, Imperial Stout, 102-Ounce Box

Ty Beanie Babies - Jake the Duck - Retired

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Full Suspension Pale Ale

Today I'm drinking Full Suspension Pale Ale brewed by Squatters Pub/Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City, Utah. The label is a photo of a hardcore mountain biker on a rugged downhill course. Yes, he is wearing a helmet! This was included in a sample pack from the brewery that I did not pay for. The back label states that this beer won Great American Beer Festival Golds in 2001 and 2002 in the Bitter Category. Sweet!

Bready aroma with some lemon and barely a touch of peach sweetness. Grainy and earthy flavors are prominent in the beginning, but they are quickly eclipsed by a good dose of lemon and orange citrus bitterness. There are other flavors that are a little different, like some funny vegetal and very dry medicinal aspects, neither of which were that welcome. A bit of spiciness comes through toward the end. The 4% alcohol was not a factor at all. Not bad overall.

Actually, if I were to find myself in Salt Lake City, I'd probably try every one of their draft beers, as I'm told they are all 4% alcohol and I could do it in a single night! Some day!

Below is the picture of my original sample pack. Imagine if all beer traders had quality packaging like this. No more newspapers and baggies and bubble wrap, etc. Who wants to do a trade?

How's that for some awesome 3D Photography! And the beer. Mmm. Beer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Damnation Golden Ale

Today I'm drinking Damnation Golden Ale brewed by Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California. This beer was sent to me by SFGirl Melanie a few weeks back. Thanks again. Like many of the other beers I've had from Russian River, this one comes in a half wine bottle, 375 mL, 12.68 oz. The label depicts what appears to be Michael Jordan's pitchfork, as it is engraved with his number 23 at the bottom. Who knew he went into farming? On the back label is a story starting with the definition of Damnation. These guys give Webster a run for its money! This particular bottle is from Batch 067.

Apples, pears and Belgian yeast aroma, with a small amount of hay and funk. There is an awesome fruitiness right from the beginning. And at the same time a light tart balance contrasting with the sweeter flavors terrifically. So you have your pears and apples and bananas playing ping-pong with some lemon and citrus and faint grape. It's a Cornucopia I tell you!

Now I didn't even get to the yeast component yet, but it is equally noticeable and dominant, quite the texture and flavor enhancer. Speaking of enhancements, your mom the 7.75% alcohol is noticeable and has a terrific way of bringing out the yeast. Toward the end, some light bitterness and acidity lead to a clean and dry finish. Good carbonation. Nice aftertaste. I enjoyed this immensely! I'd compare it to another beer I really enjoy, Ommegang BPA, but just with a little more alcohol and bang. Drink up when you can.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crispin Artisanal Reserve: The Saint

Today I'm drinking Crispin Artisanal Reserve: The Saint, a "Super Premium Quality" hard apple cider made by Crispin Cider Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Colfax, California. It appears that they just started making this particular cider a few months ago. You can read the press release here. (One suggestion to Crispin is to NOT use white lettering on a dark background. It makes for impossible painful reading.) The Saint uses Belgian Trappist yeasts and Organic Maple Syrup to enhance the final product.

On the side is an entire section titled Elevated Over Ice, which refers to Crispin suggesting how you might serve this cider. From beer geek perspective, I'd rather die not dilute my drink. But I do understand that adding water to drinks can sometimes bring out different flavors and nuances. For example, we did it in the Whiskey Class I took at Total Wine. That, however, was more to take the edge and heat off the high alcohol offerings. Anyway, I didn't try the water deal with this cider and stuck to my beer guns!

So how did I come to review a cider on my beer blog? Well, not a bad question, though I've reviewed a range from Publix Spring Water to Four Loko before, so it can't be a complete shock. Total Wine had a few Cider classes at its far-away stores near Jupiter last week. Beer leader Ed Roberts made the trek up there to participate, and man did he ever participate. It was like college all over again, except this time around I had email and Twitter and didn't need to be in the physical classroom to learn. Ed Tweeted like Twitter was about to be banned the next day! I'm surprised they didn't shut him down for hitting hourly and daily limits. But it was really informative for a guy that doesn't really know too much about apple cider, particularly quality apple cider. (PS. That guy is me!)

After the classes were over, Ed scored me two bottles of ciders available but not picked up by local distributor Gold Coast. That is crazy considering how much Wacko I saw one of their dudes stocking today. Wacko sucks and I was "this close" to saying something. I just stuck my foot out on him instead! (You realize this is what I would have done if I didn't have the kids with me at the liquor store, right?) Anyway, Ed delivered the bottles to me a few days ago and delivered another cider lesson with such excitement despite the blistering Florida afternoon sun. Correct, geniuses. I didn't pay for this and have no idea the price point. Ed told me, but I wasn't really paying attention to that point, $7 maybe?

One more comment. The nutritional facts are available and printed. Not sure if that's a requirement but it's definitely different than the beer world. And this is GLUTEN FREE for all you whiny Celiacers. I already finished the entire 22 ounce bottle, so I will state now that you can just skip the New Grist and go with this, hands down!

But what does it taste like? Are you ever going to stop rambling on? Yes, thanks. Here we go! Appearance is cloudy and a hazy golden yellow. The Belgian yeast is VERY noticeable in the nose. Sweet yet tart apples are the main highlight, though just a hint of maple syrup is faintly available.

Apple cider flavors? Check! But with many twists. The first nuance to hit this apple cider was the maple syrup noted on the label. While it is quite subtle, it is still recognizable, weaving its way in and out of the picture and working well with the other flavors. That cider twang you'd expect is also there, tart and acidic, you know, with Granny Smith Apples that are juicing on the side. Basically, it's very juicy. Some interesting spiciness closes in toward the end as well.

Now, that Belgian yeast that was so prominent in the aroma seems almost an afterthought in the flavor profile. I'm not suggesting that as a knock, just rather an observation. I don't really care but was just a bit surprised. The 6.9% alcohol wasn't really much of a factor, though you certainly will know that this is hard cider, no doubt about it. Nice texture, good carbonation. I would certainly drink it again. Check it out and let me know what you think. I'd love a little perspective since I haven't tried many ciders.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Provo Girl Pilsner

Today I'm drinking Provo Girl Pilsner brewed by Squatters Pub/Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City, Utah. This beer is sample sent to me by the brewery recently. The label depicts the innocent yet flirtatious Provo Girl in a revealing short dress. She appears to be on a farm or field somewhere as she stands amongst the wildflowers. I grew up in rural America; not sure where my Provo Girl was at that time. The beer medals this won are listed on the back: Gold at 2004 GABF and Bronze at 2008 World Beer Cup. Born 09/07/11.

Fluffy white head almost won against the top rim of my glass. Grainy and sweet aroma, smells like a pilsner. Nice flavors. Grainy with a perfect balance. The initial light toasty sweetness is met by a great bitter hoppy lemon flavor. Ultra refreshing and super clean. The carbonation was tingly and nice as well. Light yet flavorful and an easy drinker. I'll tell you what... this beer perfectly solved my miserable 100 degree Little League sweatfest this morning. And it was nice that this was also light on the alcohol, being only 4%. Check it out for sure.

One last comment. I stumbled upon this Squatters ad for this beer and apparently it's now available in cans too!

Friday, September 23, 2011

August 2011 Top Five

August was a very busy month for both fun and awesome beers. Hey, I'm not complaining. I did my first two parts in the series about Antares Brewery while also reviewing their Kolsch and Porter. Toward the end of the month, I entered the CANFEST contest for a chance to go to the event in Reno later this year. I'd appreciate your vote (will take 2 seconds, I promise, noon today is the deadline)! Finally, Dr. Carolyn submitted a guest post of a great Cigar City beer.

Now, on to the beers, which were fabulous and made my decisions very difficult!

August 2011 Top Five

1. Blind Pig IPA

2. Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout

3. Crème Brûlée Imperial Stout

4. Consecration

5. Aphrodite

Honorable Mentions

Japanese Green Tea IPA
Lakefront IPA
Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter

Here is the Master List of Top Five Lists if you need a few awesome drinking suggestions! And here is a full list of all the beers from August. I'm willing to bet there are a few on there you'd have included. Which are they? White Oak Jai Alai? Never! Starting tomorrow, you could be receiving new content each morning. You don't even need a clear view of the Southern Sky! Sign up now. You can thank me later. Later!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Squatters IPA

Today I'm drinking Squatters IPA brewed by Squatters Pub and Brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah. This beer is a part of the 12 pack of different samples sent to me by the brewery.

The label is pretty simple, red on gold, funky font. The back notes that they won multiple medals between 2003 and 2007 for this beer at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Impressive. 55 IBUs. Finally, a little tagline on the neck of the bottle: "Brewing a more sudstainable future." Get it? Yeah, I know you do!

Sweet and fruity aroma, orange and peach, with a hefty dose of bread too. The flavors start out more tea-like, herbal, followed by plenty of bitter lemon and pine. Quite astringent! Some sourdough bread flavors and balance come next. After a few sips, some orange fruitiness shows up along with a little spicy tang and zip. Pretty decent all around, though the lemony astringency coupled with the 6.5% alcohol was slightly annoying by the end. Check it out and let me know what you think.

All About Beer Magazine


Food & Wine Magazine Sweet Hot Beer Mustard, 10-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)