Friday, January 31, 2014

Shake Chocolate Porter

I wasn't going to try Shake Chocolate Porter until Rock Star Norman Miller give it a big thumbs up a few weeks ago over on that Twitter thing. So here we are. The label has a chocolate milk shake swirl effect on it and a story on the side to set your expectations. Enjoy by FEB192014. 5.9% alcohol.

Cocoa aroma with a little roast and big malty backbone. Chocolate and malt. The end. Actually seriously if I were able to stop myself there I would. Very creamy and milky. Not overly sweet with a faint coffee bitterness in the background. Light medium body--needs a lot more heft! Quite one dimensional, good flavor (no "s", I didn't forget it). Fairly boring though go ahead and try it. It's fine, though one was plenty for me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ophelia Hoppy Wheat Ale

Not tonight... I've got a headache

I picked up Ophelia Hoppy Wheat Ale from Breckenridge Brewery a few days ago. I probably wouldn't have otherwise grabbed it, but the hot chick on the label named Ophelia grabbed my attention as did her name, as I have a friend here locally with the same one. I'm pretty sure it's named after her as well considering the love she has for beer! The label also tells you to expect a Hoppy Bouquet and Wheat Flavor.

Lemon and grass aroma, hoppy with a touch of sourness. The flavors are very similar with a strong wheat backbone. Lemon, citrus, grass and some spicy black pepper lead to a fairly bitter offering. Prickly carbonation adds to the refreshment. Crisp easy drinker. Not bad. Check it out.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale

A few days ago I turned around in the beer aisle to discover that the other wall had beers from all over the world. Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale caught my attention, in part because of the name, in part because it was next to their Banana Bread Beer which I had checked out a few years back. So yes, basically I bought this because of its name, because if you read back, you'll see I was no fan of its brother. 330 mL bottle, 5.0% alcohol, best by 12/11/14.

Aroma full of sweet butterscotch and toffee. Second whiffs reveal tapioca and buttery pound cake. Very pleasant to smell! The flavors are NOT SWEET in the slightest. Toffee and cake come first and there are some hazelnut flavors that bob in and out. But the finish has a lingering metallic aftertaste that is fairly unenjoyable.

The label promises this beer is "full of rich sticky toffee-ness" which is about the biggest lie I heard all day. The label carries the farce further by decorating the name of the beer in lettering that also suggests that the above phrase would be carried out. Instead, you get a thin, watery, under-carbonated, almost flat toffee flavored beer.

I should have known better after the Banana Bread incident. And it serves me right too. This beer was imported by a marketing company in Texas, LOL. Catchy name, good marketing, suckers? Yeah, a lot of people will buy this one time! Some of you will buy this even after you just read this review! Human nature. But trust me...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rekorderlig Premium Wild Berries Hard Cider

I already tasted the Rekorderlig original Pear and Strawberry Lime Hard Ciders from the gift box I received last week. So now it's time to check out the final one: Rekorderlig Premium Wild Berries Hard Cider. Like the others, this one comes in a 500 mL bottle, simply decorated with a fruit that defines the blend. Yes, this too is a pear cider with wild berries blended in. 330 calories, 4.5% alcohol. The other nutritional stuff is on the back, pictured below.

Light pink, nearly to the depth of color of the strawberry version but not quite. Distinct raspberry aroma and not as sweet on the nose as its sisters. Berry forward flavors, nicely tart. That works well with the otherwise underlying sweet cider. Juicy with a good balance of tart and sweet. I was reminded of Sweet Tarts candies. There is an acidic and vinegary kick throughout and a dry berry finish. Carbonation is good. Flavors nice. Definitely refreshing. The least sweet of the three and a toss up with Pear as my favorite.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rekorderlig Premium Strawberry-Lime Hard Cider

I checked out Rekorderlig's Pear Hard Cider a few days ago, so decided to try their Strawberry-Lime version today. For the record, this is still a pear hard cider as a base that was blended with strawberries and limes. It was part of the gift box sent to me which I mentioned and showed you pictures of last time.

Again I was told that this be served well chilled or over ice, and the marketing materials suggest strawberries and mint be in your glass as well, garnished with a lime. My 500 mL bottle is best before 21AUG2015. 4.5% alcohol. 325 calories. The rest of the nutritional information can be seen in the photo below.

Upon opening, I was immediately reminded of Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita, a grossly sweet alcoholic wannabe beer that I reviewed as a gimmick for my buddy's beer blog.  It was the huge sweet strawberry aroma and pink color that tipped me off, though this cider was not an electric pink like that one. (BTW, I did not pour it over ice or use any fruits or garnishes).

While the initial thoughts offered some similarities, I was pleased that this cider diverged from the "Ber-Rita" in many positive ways. Strawberry is the dominant flavor throughout, and while the initial burst is sugary sweet, there is enough acidity and citric properties and carbonation to cleanse the palate between sips. In addition, the finish offers a subtle glance at the lime flavors. Neither syrupy NOR an alcoholic mess. Sweet and simple. And though I prefer the simpler pear hard cider, I can understand the draw to this one.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rekorderlig Premium Pear Hard Cider

A few days ago, I was contacted by the PR and marketing firm representing Rekorderlig ciders as they enter the US market. For now, you can only find them in New York and Florida. I happen to be in Florida. I was asked if a hard cider was a fit for my website. And you know what the answer was. Next thing you know, the FedEx guy was knocking on my door with a beautifully presented wooden box with three 500 mL bottle ciders next to a tall glass. Since it was a gift, be ready for my bias.

I asked Ed Roberts if he knew about these ciders, and he told me that he taste tested them in his store last month and they were so well received that they were delivered to all Florida Total Wine stores recently (and I confirmed that today). The bottle has a very simple label, decorated only with a pear. You are told to serve this well chilled, specifically over ice (I didn't), and the marketing materials went further suggesting a zesty lemon or lime as well (I didn't). Nutrition info is on the back (oh my, 330 calories, my waistline). 4.5% alcohol. Best Before 21AUG2015.

This cider was made by the Swedish brewery Ă…bro Bryggeri in Vimmerby, Sweden. The name means "trustworthy" in Swedish, and the story is that a woman from the brewery family named Helen recalled this word from games she used to play with her grandmother. The name was proposed and accepted.

Beautiful fruity pear aroma with a nice sweetness. Full of great pear flavor from the first sip to the last. Very fresh as well. Sweet but not overly sweet, and there is a nice tart, cidery kick to each sip as well. Lightly acidic and I liked the carbonation too. Crisp, refreshing, flavorful. Beautifully Swedish, as their tagline goes! Recommended and I'd for sure check it out again.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Narragansett Bohemian Pilsner

I grabbed a can of Narragansett Bohemian Pilsner the other day to see what it's all about. The pounder can actually has a little story on the back that let's you know this beer pays tribute to the lager style of beer which the company was founded on in 1890 and has remained true to throughout its history. 5.2% alcohol.

Flowery and grassy aroma, inviting. Big cracker-forward flavors start things off. You are then rewarded with a nice spicy and grassy nip at the palate, totally refreshing and perfectly bitter. A little herbal and there is some light fruity sweetness in the distance as well. Prickly carbonation is also welcome. The finish is long and full of grainy flavors. Nice beer!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Global Warmer

I grabbed a can of Sixpoint's Global Warmer this morning. I was praying that it wasn't a spiced winter warmer but was a little clueless since this brewery doesn't always tell you what style of beer is in the can. The 70 IBU quote on the front did help me past those qualms. 7% alcohol

This is the story you are given on the back of the "skinny-bitch-eat-a-sandwich" can:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
A Winter Warmer to warm your Globe,
or a Global Warmer to warm your Winter?
There's no denying the Beer Climate
is changing.
Yeah, I know. Me too. So after looking around and tasting it, I believe it's supposed to be somewhere around a red ale but with a little more heft. The "Mad Scientists" at Sixpoint don't follow style guidelines so OK. Let's see!

Spicy aroma with plenty of pine and a light fruity sweetness in the background. Sweet caramel flavors come first and collide with some strong pine trees, in a balancing kind of way. A little spicy, a little herbal. There is also a nice fruity orange sweetness in the background.

I'd prefer a little more spicy bite on the palate from this type of beer, a little more kick. And this definitely needs more carbonation. Good flavors. Check it out!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hop House

I saw a bottle of Hop House, a dry-hopped pale ale brewed by Brewery Ommegang on the shelf this morning. I hadn't seen it before, but considering that I think they make great beers including the fabulous BPA, I decided I'd give it a go. The label depicts three buildings with a farm of hops growing behind them. The label says that Ommegang sits on "an historic" hop farm, so I suppose that's what we're viewing. (Click the link to read another piece of literature I wrote about putting "an" in front of a hard "h".) Serve 40°F. 6% alcohol.

Enormous head despite the slow pour, but I was prepared for that. That head took forever to disappear as well. Yeasty aroma with a mix of sweet tropical and citrus fruitiness. Lemony citrus flavors come first with a decent dose of bitterness. Sweeter orange and mango do make a balance. And the entire underlying backbone of the flavor profile is that distinct Belgian yeast.

Quite floral with some light spiciness. The finish is dry and lasting. Enjoyable beer all around. Good bitterness for a pale ale. Oh, and you'd better love that Belgian yeast quality before cracking this one open. Check it out!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Breakfast Stout

Only the oldest of readers will remember when Beer Pancakes reviewed Founders Breakfast Stout around four years ago. This past month, I had my first opportunity to taste the beer as the brewery finally started distributing it down here in Florida. Talk about hype! Jeez. I grabbed a 6 pack and have been working my way through them for the past few weeks. Even my wife likes it! This bottle is my last though, so I figured I needed to do the review, despite the zillions that are already out there.

The label depicts a toddler eating oatmeal for breakfast out of his Founders bowl. Using a child to sell beer has caused the brewery some headaches but whatever. Personally, I have dozens of other things bothering me more. 60 IBU. 8.3% alcohol.

Rich, decadent chocolate aroma with some coffee and a little smoke. Wow, talk about reversal in the flavors! The coffee is mega-dominant while some cocoa just lingers in the background. There is also some charred, burnt malt and some savory flavors that persist. This beer is not sweet in the slightest; in fact, I wish it had more sweetness to counter the burnt and bitter flavors.

Great texture, smooth and creamy. The finish is dry and tangy and that bitterness lingers long after the sip is finished. Very good beer.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Organic Hop Cuvee West Coast Ale

I've been a fan of Bison Brewing for a while, despite sometimes poking fun at the green movement. They just brew great beer! But owner and brewer Daniel Del Grande made me think a little less lightly about the topic when I interviewed him for this past Earth Day on 4/22/13 (422 not 420, Freddy). So when I saw their newest beer on my South Florida shelf a few days ago, I grabbed a bottle.

Of course that is Organic Hop Cuvee West Coast Ale, a pale ale brewed with Dan's selection of this year's best organic hops. The little story on the side says that for this year, Simcoe, Citra and Centennial organic hops were used to brew this beer. 5.5% alcohol.

Pine and tropical fruits and pineapples give off a great aroma. Delicious and fresh are my first thoughts about the flavors! An excellent combination of tropical orange and pineapple sweetness meets a perfect complement of pine bitterness. Great flavors all around.

Creamy with a refreshing bitter finish. I could definitely drink this all day (and might). Definitely recommended.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale

First a few warnings for those with sensitive ears, those that worship their Apple thingies and those that love their Pumpkin beers. This review is composed of both! My experience with my iPhone 4 camera sucked, so let's see about my new iPhone 5S. And my love of pumpkin beers is non-existent, but what the heck on a big one on the clearance rack more than six months after Weyerbacher prematurely started the season.

OK. Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale it is, brewed with pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. Not positive but I think $3.99 is around 3 or 4 times less that its original price for Big 22. The frog artwork from the brewery is always fun, and there is a panel on the label with a little story and beer specifications. 8.4% alcohol.

Big baking spice aroma, especially cinnamon and nutmeg--pleasant and not annoying to the nose. Flavors full of the same spices. Chewy but enough alcohol to not be syrupy. And though the malty and sweet brown sugar and cotton candy and bubble gum sweetness leads the way (no pumpkin), there is enough bitterness to tame the beast. Also a little doughy flavor comes through, though that could be my mind playing tricks on me.

Low carbonation, good body, nice texture in the mouth. Spice forward, decent flavors and above average for sure. If this is your style, you'd probably consider this a home run. For the record, I finished the entire bottle of my own free will.

However, for me, please remind me next June (or for most breweries, later) this style really isn't my thing, not even for the best ones.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elissa IPA

Today I'm checking out Elissa IPA brewed by Saint Arnold Brewing in Houston, Texas. The beer is named after a Texas Tall Ship of the same name from 1877. I've tried this beer before though never really did a review. This was sent to me by the brewery.

Light pine aroma, pretty faint. Super-duper flowery flavors open things up. That's followed by a lemony, medicinal type thing. Grassy bitterness, light orange citrus. Toward the end, a nice sweet malty balance shows up. The finish shows a bit of alcohol and dryness. Not bad.