- The Beaker People: a Neolithic culture distinguished by their pottery drinking vessels, said to be for the consumption of alcohol. In other words, they brought brewing to Western Europe and Great Britain. Things have never been the same since!
- Libation: the ritual pouring out of a liquid offering to a god.
- BPLF: an organization–more or less–founded in the 1960s by science fiction fan Brian Burley to promote the production and consumption of beer. It’s time to revive this noble cause, as we pour our liquid offerings, with the New Beaker People’s Libation Front!
Happy Holidays, and of course we must celebrate with beer from all over! Let’s start in Belgium, at Brouwerij Van Steenberge (and if you can pronounce that, my compliments!)
This starts with a medium high aroma of white bread and brown bread with dates and figs along with moderately low earthy hops. It pours a very cloudy amber with a fairly high foamy light tan head. The flavor gives strong caramel, brown bread and spice cake, medium spicy hops, and notes of stewed fruit, like prunes. It finishes on the sweet side with low bitterness for balance. The aftertaste mixes sweet malt with spicy hops and light bitterness. The mouthfeel includes lightly syrupy, medium full body, no astringency and medium carbonation. This makes a satisfying snifter where the dry hopping has given more flavor than aroma. The bottle date shows that this is 4 months old, so perhaps the hop aroma has faded. More aroma would raise this from very good to excellent. 10.5% ABV and doesn’t seem quite that strong; the warmth gives an impression more like 8%.
Let’s swing through Canada for a couple from Collective Arts in Ontario . . .
Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance Citrus Blonde
Yeasty notes greet the nose over medium high cracker and bread malt with moderately low citrus hops, orange peel and pith, with juicy tangerine and lemon peel coming in. It develops a sweet-tart note. The pour is cloudy golden straw with a medium white head, fine grained and persistent. The flavor starts like orange juice with sweetness fully tempered by pith, lemon and moderate bitterness. There is a firm malt backbone of bread and cracker with just a hint of caramel, finishing nice and dry, with aftertaste featuring orange peel and bitter hops. The body is medium, starting to trend low but brought back up by the maltiness. It is not creamy but not astringent either, crisp and without heat. This is a summery beer welcome in all seasons, very drinkable and refreshing, and sessionable at 4.7% ABV
Rhyme & Reason
The aroma is moderate hoppy citrus with balancing malty sweet biscuit and a light spiciness. Ontario supplies a New England IPA here, cloudy orange gold with a persistent foamy snow white head. The palate finds smooth shortbread and orange flavors, almost like a cake. It finishes just on the sweet side, then medium high bitterness builds in. It is medium bodied, smooth and creamy with slight astringency as the bitterness builds. Nice beer! 6.1% ABV
. . . and across the border to Michigan . . .
The rich aroma is malty-sweet “white cake” with bread and biscuit. Bourbon rolls through imparting more sweetness and adding warmth. Medium high fruity esters come next: stone fruit and candied apricot. The hops are low and earthy.
The glass shows clear light amber with a caramel tinge, effervescent with a medium high barely off white head, very persistent. The flavor gives caramel cream and bourbon, richly layered malts, just enough bitterness to take the edge off the sweetness, and no apparent hop flavor. There is plenty of fruitiness of red berries and cherries and stone fruit. It finishes sweet with lingering bourbon and malt. It definitely tastes like they didn’t quite empty the bourbon barrel before adding beer! This is not a complaint! It is full bodied, slightly syrupy with just above medium carbonation. There is no astringency but very significant alcohol heat. Founders has given us a powerful after dinner drink, richly boozy and malty with complex fruitiness mostly masked by bourbon and malt. The hops take a distant back seat. Outstanding if you like bourbon and sweetness, and I do. 14.2% ABV
. . . on to a stop in Colorado . . .
The nose has moderate levels of dark rye bread malt, dark dried fruit and low earthy malt with hints of pine and flowers. The beer is clear dark amber with cherry highlights and a medium low light tan head. The flavor is of medium high dark roasty malt with plum and fig, medium bitterness and low earthy hops with pine notes. It starts dry and finishes drier with lingering roastiness and bread crust. The mouthfeel has medium body and significant astringency, almost a harsh edge, and medium carbonation. I associate Avery with beers that can almost climb out of the glass, this one is a restrained 5.5% ABV.
. . . and back for a quick visit to Pennsylvania . . .
Here’s a quick trip back to Oktoberfest aromas, richly malty and dry, like bread flour with caramel powder. There is a moderate note of fermented dark fruit plus low earth & spice hops with the spiciness growing. It pours a clear copper color, quite dark for a Festbier, with a medium bubbly head the color of buttermilk pancake batter. On the palate you get rich bread crust malt with spice cake notes, then comes caramelized dark fruit, hinting at sweetness but finishing dry. Hop flavor is medium low and earthy, and the bitterness is also medium low. There are pleasant lingering bread crust notes. It has just above medium body, lightly creamy but with very light astringency and medium high carbonation.
Very nice, satisfying beer, a bit dark and heavy for a Festbier. It’s more of a Märzen, and a nice one. 5.6% ABV
. . . up to New York . . .
Starts with a roasty mocha aroma with dark fruit and light raspberry. There is a low earth & spice hop aroma. It’s almost opaque, but clear brown when held to a light, with a medium coffee cream head over moderate effervescence. The flavor is grainy-fruity biscuit and cake malt, red fruit, raspberry & cherry, with touches of chocolate and a creamy texture This is not sweet but otherwise like German chocolate cake in a glass. It has medium body like a traditional stout, lightly creamy without astringency. It’s a very nice oatmeal stout with a lightness that calls for multiple pints! 5.3% ABV
. . . and wrapping up in Boston.
The glass shows opaque darkest brown with a generous head the color of milk chocolate. The head has moderate persistence. The deep aroma gives mocha cake with low bourbon and spicy rye notes and a hint of red fruit in the background. There is no apparent hop aroma. The flavor is also mocha cake over full bready malt with moderate roasty notes, then a bright beam of cherry cuts across. Chocolate grows stronger on the aftertaste playing with medium bitterness. The finish is on the sweet side, a chocolate milk note suggesting lactose. Bitterness is medium, giving depth and balance. The whiskeys are there but restrained, and the barrels add a vanilla oaky note. The body is full, creamy like a milkshake with medium low carbonation and no astringency. The alcohol note starts deceptively low but heat slowly builds. This is a rich full-bodied stout with coffee beans supporting chocolate malts. The cherry esters are remarkably vivid. It’s a snifter-by-the-fire ale, and definitely a beer to share with a loved one! Great stuff, and a great finish for our little trip.
Happy Holidays! And speaking of loved ones, here’s a little something to hang instead of mistletoe.
“If Your Beer Is Not Madness, It’s Not Beer.”
Or so they say. Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming, I guess, and on to the beer!
Called an American Pale Ale with Honey, it’s a pleasant APA which finishes dry with a hint of that honey flavor. I made no notes—too busy drinking—so I’ll steal their notes: “Clean, smooth, slow motion, easy drinking, honey. The palette cleanser extraordinaire. Perfect for mowing your unwatered lawn, sipping in the shower, or fishing on a Sunday. Low in alcohol, but high in enjoyment, this beer will not let you down.…. and if it does? Give it a good talking to. ABV: 5%”
The abbreviation stands for Melvin Pale Ale. The beer starts with a fruity nose of mango and pineapple over medium cracker malt with a hint of caramel. There is a light phenolic spiciness (think clove and pepper.) It gets more citrusy—orange peel—as the head dissipates. This pours clear gold with a peach tinge and a medium high foamy white head which persists from moderate effervescence. It’s a malty mouthful with tropical fruit rushing in. Fairly high bitterness comes along with the dry finish. A light malty sweetness lingers along with citrus and tropical fruit. The body is medium, creamy, with moderately high carbonation and slight astringency. The MPA can hold its own among IPAs though there is more maltiness here. It’s on the cusp between APA and IPA. Nicely done. 6% ABV
Pop the top for immediate tangerine, orange and resin. The medium high hop aroma is joined by bready malt and stone fruit with a hint of pepper. This is clear amber in the glass with a foamy bright white head that laces the glass. The flavor is juicy citrus–tangerine or Honeybell–with pine and melon. The medium bready malt continues, starting slightly sweet then drying out on the finish with lingering melon. Just above medium body, its creaminess alternates with slight astringency. Nice, classic IPA. 7.5%
No sawdust involved! The aroma starts instantly with a waft of tropical fruit, followed by pine and a “forest floor” note. There is moderate cracker malt with a touch of biscuit, then comes a little follow up of citrus peel. It pours clear gold and quite effervescent with a persistent pillowy white head. The head heavily laces the glass. It’s a hoppy mouthful with a blend of resin, mango and pine over medium malty sweetness. It finishes off dry with lingering tropical fruit. Medium high bitterness comes in and lingers. Highly carbonated, the body is medium trending higher, initially creamy followed by light carbonic bite and low alcohol heat. This is a very tasty DIPA that ends up balanced between malty sweetness and hop bitterness with a ton of fruit and pine in both aroma and flavor. The low heat only hints at the 9.9% ABV.
There is very little Russian beer on this side of the Atlantic, but Baltika (Пивоваренная компания “Балтика”) is the second largest brewing company in Europe, and the largest in Russia. Its market share in Russia is only slightly lower than AB InBev’s in the United States.
The aroma is of relatively high malty-sweet biscuit and bread with light corniness. There is a medium low noble-style hop aroma, and just a hint of melon. It pours clear golden amber with a slight orangey note and a medium white head, not very persistent, but leaving a light coating on the glass. The flavor starts with somewhat high malt-sweet biscuit and bread, a touch cloying. The hop flavor is moderate earth and spice, with low bitterness and moderate corn. It finishes sweet, and that impression lingers, though some more hop flavor and bitterness come in on the aftertaste. It’s not enough to balance the sweetness. On the palate this has medium body and relatively low carbonation. It could use some carbonic bite but misses that mark, coming in neither creamy nor astringent, and with a syrupy hint.
It’s a mass market international lager, but I would give a clear edge to Heineken or to Baltika’s parent, Carlsberg. Number 3 needs greater attenuation, higher bitterness and more carbonation. 4.8% ABV
This starts with a medium low cracker malt aroma, low spicy hops, light yeastiness, and a hint of quince. It’s very clear gold in the glass with a medium foamy white head. The head has medium persistence and rings the glass. The flavor continues the restrained cracker and bread malt. The hop flavor is low, spicy and floral, with medium low bitterness, very evenly balanced. It finishes dry with lingering malt and hops and a hint of stone fruit. The body is medium, leaning toward the full side. Medium carbonation leaves a light carbonic bite, neither creamy nor astringent.
Overall, a crisp and refreshing international lager, excellent in that style. 5.3% ABV
A moderately high malty sweet aroma greets the nose, biscuit and bread with a light caramel note. The hops are lower, giving earth and spice. There is a faint estery peach hint. Clear golden amber, this is quite effervescent with a medium bright white fine-bubble head. On the palate comes moderate bready malt which starts malty sweet but quickly dries out. This is joined by a low earthy hop flavor, medium low bitterness and a distinct medium low fruitiness like peach or apricot candy. It finishes off dry with lingering maltiness. The balance is malty. The body is just below medium, almost creamy, with medium high carbonation and no astringency.
The beer is a fairly rich malty lager, Dortmunder style, heavier and not as dry as its lighter siblings. This would be better if slightly more attenuated, but it’s a very good beer. It seems heavier than its 5.4% ABV.
Interesting. I have never seen a closure like this one.
This starts with the aroma of fairly high bready malt, rather low earth and spice hops, plus light fruit like guava. A grainy sweet note develops, starting to hint at problems. The pour is clear gold with a medium low bubbly white head, not very persistent. Trouble arrives with the first sip. There is medium bready malt with a slightly unpleasant sourdough element, then cloying grainy malt sweetness comes in with a clashing honey note. There is medium corniness, high enough to be a flaw. The hop flavor is lost, and bitterness is way too low for balance. It finishes cloying as well, lingering with a metallic note. The medium body seems fuller due to that honeyed quality. It is not creamy, not well carbonated, and quite harsh with lingering astringency.
This is a rather nasty lager, far out of balance. It makes me feel better about my worst homebrew. In fact, I think I’ll dump this in favor of one of those. 8.0% ABV, but you wouldn’t know it under the pressure of that cloying sweetness. Fortunately they can produce far better beer. I saw this recently on a list of the Ten Worst Beers. I was brave and tried it anyway. Brave but schtupid.
The first sniff delivers rich port wine, then roasty grain with toast and toffee with low spicy hops. It is almost opaque darkest brown with a medium light tan head, bubbly, ringing the glass. The flavor begins with rich, dark, brown bread with toast and roasty malts. Then caramel comes through with medium high bitterness offset by sweet elements of the malt. Black cherry, plum and ruby port come through with boozy notes. It finishes a hair on the sweet side but that is offset by bitterness. The aftertaste swings back and forth between sweet and roasty. On the palate the body is rich and lightly syrupy with moderate astringency from the roast grain.
This could hardly be farther from dry or oatmeal or milk stouts, it’s much fruitier and port like, a complex and rewarding after dinner sipper. I doubt there are many Russians who have ever heard of Russian Imperial Stout, but this is a fine brew from St. Petersburg. 10.0% ABV
Angry Erik Brewing
. . . and deliver beer from the Norse Women too, as Heide and Erik brew these fine beers!
The aroma is like a fine yeasty Belgian Blonde Ale with a fascinating berry highlight, somewhere among raspberry, boysenberry and blueberry. Cracker malt supports the floral and berry elements. The yeast imparts spicy phenolics like coriander. There’s a soft hop aroma underneath, floral, earthy and a bit spicy. This pours hazy gold with a medium low white bubbly head of moderate persistence. The flavor starts with cracker malt and grainy bread and biscuit notes. Flowery berry comes right behind, accenting and not dominating, carrying through the dry finish and out onto a light malty aftertaste. Bitterness and hop flavor are low. Wheat becomes more apparent in the aftertaste. The beer has medium body, medium high carbonation, and its light creaminess leads to a mild carbonic bite. Only a faint warmth hints at the strength.
This is a crisp refreshing beer for a summer day, even for a crisp Scandinavian summer day. At 7.6 % ABV, as they say “she might be more ‘Shield Maiden’ than ‘Dainty’”
I confess I took no notes, simply enjoying this crisp beer. It’s on the cusp between blonde and pale ale. I remember tropical fruit and citrus with clean fermentation and a cracker and bread malt backbone. 5% abv
The aroma leads with orange peel and orange pith, and then those hops are joined by bread and cracker malt and light stone fruit esters. The malt strengthens as it warms and develops a light sweetness. The pour is hazy reddish gold with a persistent foamy bright white head. The flavor starts with orange pith and dank resin notes. Medium high bitterness comes right behind. The malt base is bready with lighter notes, balancing the beer but leaving it dry, crisp, and bitter. On the palate the beer is just above medium fullness with an initial creaminess giving way to carbonic bite and mild astringency. Carbonation is medium high.
This is an IPA that demands attention rather than a relaxing sipper, a good solid pint for hop heads . . . like me.
Patrick Henry was a Virginian and might have decried “the tyrannical oppression of industrial beer,” to quote Stone. In opening their new Richmond brewery, they collaborated with Ardent Craft Ales and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, both of Richmond, and with “His Excellency, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Governor.”
Opening the cap releases a high hop aroma of resin, pine and dried grapefruit rind. Beneath this is medium bready malt, mostly masked. A toasted caramel note emerges. The beer is hazy amber with a generous creamy off white head, heavily lacing the glass, with good persistence. On the palate comes a high earthy, resiny hop flavor with citrus peel and notes of overripe orange. The bitterness is very high. Bready, cakey malt provides backbone and prevents a total hop rampage, but there’s nothing balanced about it! Slight melon esters come underneath, then it finishes dry, with a long, bitter, earthy aftertaste. The body comes in above medium fullness with a heaviness more like oiliness than creaminess. The carbonation is medium, and the bitterness is strong enough to manifest as astringency puffing up the lips.
Overall? In game terms, “Hoppy Boots of Overkill.” This is a heavy earthy resin&pine hop bomb with no attempt at nuance. “Here I am; deal with it.” So, if you love hops with attitude, and aren’t looking for a citrusy sort, go for it.
Fredericksburg, Virginia is just north of Richmond, but this cry for freedom comes from Frederiksberg, Denmark.
The aroma of this Grisette Ale is complex, sweet and sour and funky with a crackery malt base, medum citrusy hops, and Belgian yeast character with stone fruit & banana. It pours cloudy golden straw with a medium bubbly white head, quite persistent. The flavor starts citrusy followed immediately by Brett-like funk over cracker & bread malt, then peach & melon esters. Low but distinct bitterness. Finishes quite dry with lingering yeast & funk.
Grisette Ale is an interesting style like a drier, grittier cousin of saison. The brewery seems to claim that this one is an ancient “collaboration” of Viking raiders and French monks who were too slow to get away. Viking raiders: “Here WE are, deal with it.” Not a favorite of mine–other than the great name–but could be quite refreshing.
Mexican from Massachusetts, this starts with medium high chocolate aroma with vegetal/pepper notes over bread and cake malt and low earthy hops. Toffee emerges as it warms. This is opaque brown even when held to direct sunlight and has an off-tan head. On the palate, caramel and cake malts lead immediately through chocolate into spicy pepper flavor. There is no apparent hop flavor and only medium low bitterness. The balance comes from spicy pepper, not hot, just warming. It finishes on the sweet side but nicely offset by spice so it’s not remotely cloying. It’s a bourbon sweetness with light oakiness in the aftertaste including vanilla…ah, there are vanilla beans in the brew! Also cinnamon. The body is medium full, silky, accented by a little spicy heat.
This has all the elements of a mole, however, I’m not pouring it over enchiladas! It’s a very nice warming beer, to my taste more for winter than for summer, but very much a beer to sip and savor. Pretty amazing that this is a lager!
Without modesty, false or otherwise: “Lord Hobo Brewing Company Proudly Presents . . .”
This is an IPA shop, and this—along with Steal This Can—is the flagship. Hazy gold in the glass with a medium ragged white foamy head and quite a few dark floaters. The foam stand is very persistent and heavily laces the glass.
The aroma is of tropical fruit, orange pith and resin over biscuit & cracker malt with a hint of peach esters.
The flavor starts with citrus and melon hops, then a wave of malty sweet biscuit, overtaken by a wave of medium high bitterness. It finishes almost dry with the malt more than offset by hop flavor and bitterness. The mouthfeel has just above medium fullness, no creaminess, medium high carbonation and slightly lip puckering astringency.
This is a full bore IPA of New England cloudiness and west coast bitterness, even perhaps a little harsh. It might be best drunk from the can like Heady Topper. The floaters detract somewhat, at least for me. 7.8% ABV
“From the hills of Woburn, Ma” – or so it says on the can.
This pours cloudy golden straw with a medium off-white fine-bubble head, not persistent. There is a high aroma of orange peel and orange pith with notes both both resiny & floral. The low bready malt is mostly masked by the hops, and there is faint stone fruit and a hint of spice. The notes of citrus peel grow as it warms. The flavor starts with orange pith & peel immediately followed by high bitterness. Low bread and cracker malt is there, but the beer flavor leans strongly to the bitter side. It finishes quite dry with an aftertaste of citrus & bitterness. It has a medium body, not creamy, with medium carbonation and moderate astringency mostly from bitterness. All in all, a slightly fierce IPA not at all balanced, both hoppy bitter and dry. There is a small offsetting maltiness which is outgunned by the hops. I would have guessed somewhat higher alcohol. This would be hard to pair with food, maybe something like French fries or nachos. 6.5% ABV
Golden straw in the glass with peach highlights. The aroma of malty sweet biscuit is overtaken by lemon/orange/grapefruit citrus. There is a faint herbal, grassy note. The first sip is momentarily malty sweet, immediately replaced by citrus peel & pith, just above medium bitterness, then finishes slightly sweet with a lingering blend of hops and malt. The balance is only somewhat hoppy. On the palate is medium body, lightly creamy with a tiny hint of citrus. Not astringent. 9.2% ABV and doesn’t taste like it. The hoppiness shows restraint where Glorious does not. No consolation prize at all, this is a rewarding DIPA.
la bière “Made in Normandie”
Medium high pear greets the nose, with medium bread and cake malt, low spicy hops, low stone fruit and crisp apple. Warm spicy phenolics develop, sort of like cinnamon. There is a bit of light oxidation. The pour is hazy gold with a medium high bright white foam stand, with long persistence. There are many small dark floaters going up and down, quite flavorless and not noticeable unless you hold it to the light. The flavor starts with light pepper, with medium malt, slightly sweet bread and cake, followed by low earthy hops and medium bitterness. The beer finishes dry with pear and stone fruitiness coming in. The balance is malty. The body is medium light, crisp, with high carbonation and a light carbonic bite. The mouthfeel is neither creamy nor astringent. Overall, this is a very refreshing medium-light brew with flavorful malt and fruitiness with interesting spiciness. A very rewarding beer. 6.5% ABV
RateBeer calls this a Bière de Garde, the brewery does not. The beer is paler than even the blond form of bière de garde. The aroma is appropriate for the paler versions of the style. The head is spot on. The flavor does not include the toast or toffee characteristic of the style, but the paler versions normally have less of those elements. What I did not find is the aroma, taste or heat of alcohol, however 6.5% puts this near the low end of the typical range.
My cousins took a river cruise from Paris to Normandy, and knowing that I’m a beer geek, they brought this set as a most welcome Christmas gift. The first bottle gave me the notes above, the second I shared with the brewers at my favorite local brewery. I was certain they never had this, and they found it an excellent beer, one you can savor. Now about those floaters . . . they were more apparent in the first bottle than the second, and had no effect on any other aspect of the beer. My cousins probably bought the bottle in the fall, gave it to me at Christmas, and then I was slow to open it. In other words, through no fault of its own, the bottle was less than fresh. The light oxidation also suggests this. So my apologies to the brewers, and I thank them for a fine beer.
And my warm thanks to my cousins for making it possible to try this beer!
A coincidence that I find amusing: you saw that I had the beer unopened for several months. Finally I drank it, and went to check it in on Untappd. At first I didn’t find it, which didn’t surprise me, it’s understandably rare. But then I found it. There was precisely one check-in, and it was dated the day before my check-in. So after all that time, I was second by less than 24 hours!
If you would like to know more about the beer and the brewers, this is their website: La MiN
Today we have a change of pace, a guest review. My friend Peter was kind enough to review a beer that I have not yet tried. I have loved the label since I first saw it. Now I’m quite sure I would love the contents!!
This rare offering pours almost opaque chocolate brown with a burnt copper head.
The foam lingers long enough to be appreciated, but not so long that it impairs the cocoa nibs and coffee (three different blends from Salt Lake City, Denver and San Diego roasters) from reaching the tasters’ nose.
The coffee and savory cocoa – no candy bars here – serve to mellow the 12.3% alcohol content. But rest assured you will know it’s there, and that it spent just enough time in whiskey barrels before being offered to us lucky few.
Oh, and there’s just enough hops as the taste leaves your mouth to “cleanse your palate” for the next sip!
(This is one of the most delicious brews I have ever tasted.)
So now, clearly, I have to try some EPiC beers myself. It is my selfish selfless duty to my readers.
Well, not dead, but back from utterly shameful neglect of this blog. No excuses. I haven’t stopped drinking good beer. Untappd shows that I have had 392 unique beers since the beginning of February. I haven’t stopped taking pictures, having almost choked my iPhone. I haven’t stopped taking notes, though I cut way back. That’s still related to burnout from becoming a beer judge, but it’s more that I never got un-distracted from the blog. Often I don’t want to take notes, I just want a good beer! (Pity.)
So let’s talk about some good beer!
They start with a rye ale, age it in first-use Templeton rye barrels, then age the results in another round of first-use Templeton barrels. Rye Cubed! The initial aroma is like a shot of good rye, as it should be. Massive malt base, cake and dark rye and spice cake with vanilla and caramel, with alcohol coming over the top. The appearance is cloudy medium dark amber with golden highlights and a generous off white bubbly head with good persistence. The flavor starts with a high rich malty sweet blend of cake and dark rye bread with vanilla, caramel, treacle, and distinct oaky notes. There is no apparent hop flavor, but medium low bitterness prevents the sweetness from becoming cloying. It finishes sweet with lingering whiskey and cake. The body is medium with significant alcohol heat. A light syrupy note grows more pronounced. There is no astringency despite abundant dark malts.
Overall? Wow. Simply wow. You have to like rye whiskey, big sweet beers, and alcohol heat. You almost need to sign a waiver that you’re not driving, this is 14.6% ABV.
Brettanomyces Citrus Wild Ale
First sniff: citrus & funky brett over a medium malty-sweet base. There is an aroma of candied orange peel, and a boozy note emerges. In the glass we see clear golden straw with a generous foamy white head of medium retention. [As an aside, I’ve seen “good retention” defined as a head that loses half its height in one minute. For me “medium” approaches that, perhaps 30 to 45 seconds.] The flavors give a complex, fast sequence of impressions: lemon juice, funk, tart orange peel, tartness that tingles in the back of the throat, then a little sweetness, finishing dry with a long tart aftertaste. Did I mention tart? It takes the place of bitterness in balancing the malt. The mouthfeel has just below medium body, and the impression is of astringency coming from tartness. The carbonation is medium, and there is no alcohol heat (nor should there be, at this strength.) This is a beer that rewards attention, offering lots of elements that integrate around a tart and funky center. The funk is quite restrained, the tartness is less so. I would have called this sour a year or two ago, now I call it–drum roll–tart. 5.8% ABV
The latest in the Game of Thrones series, the aroma starts with flowery hops and medium stone fruit, along with a Belgian style yeastiness including light clove and pepper. The base is medium bread-and-biscuit malt with a light nectarine emerging. The pour is cloudy gold with a coppery tinge and a medium high foam stand of moderate persistence. The flavor is of medium high bready malt with a hint of sweetness, joined by floral and fruity hops with an earthy undertone. Medium bitterness comes in to balance that sweetness and the beer finishes dry. Floral and fruity hops and bitterness persist through a long aftertaste. The body is medium with medium high carbonation, and an initial creaminess is replaced by moderate carbonic bite. Very good beer, hoppier than a Belgian Golden or Wheat Ale, leaving a surprising bitterness on the aftertaste. It’s just a bit harsh, perhaps appropriate for Game of Thrones.
The pour releases a wonderful aroma of medium high cake & biscuit malt with medium high earthy hop aroma and hints of spice. There is a restrained bourbon note, growing “boozier” as it warms. The beer is clear light amber with a generous foamy, almost rocky head the color of buttermilk, very persistent. The bourbon flavor is less restrained, medium high over rich malty sweet cake. This is followed by floral and earthy hops and medium bitterness to balance things out. It finishes medium sweet with a long bourbon and caramel aftertaste, but always enough bitterness to keep things well away from cloying. Bitterness grows sip to sip, approaching medium high. The body is medium high, with matching carbonation, a foamy creaminess and mild astringency coming in. You feel medium alcohol heat. They call this an Imperial India Pale Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels. I would not have thought ”IPA” as the malt is rich, reinforced by bourbon sweetness. However, bitterness builds to justify the IPA label. I would call it extremely tasty and a beer to sip and savor. It’s also a bit dangerous. My impression was around 8.5% ABV but it’s actually 12.4!
Starts with the aroma of ginger ale and lemon candy with low cracker malt and no apparent hops or esters beyond the lemon. It pours cloudy gold with a very brief white head. The flavor starts like ginger ale, moves to lemon soda and back to ginger ale. There is no apparent alcohol so this stuff could be sneaky. It’s initially fairly sweet but finishes off-dry, with just a faint metallic note way out on the end. Light bodied, it’s tingly from the ginger, neither creamy nor astringent. This would be terrific by the pool or on the beach. It’s a bit out of place in the Northeast in February…but tasty and refreshing regardless. It would pair well with light seafood. 4.1% ABV
The aroma is of grapefruit and tangerine, medium strength, then medium low bready-grainy malt emerges, then medium earth & spice hops. Low stone fruit comes out as it warms. In the glass it’s clear gold with a copper tinge. The medium off white head does not persist but coats the glass. The flavor is delicious tangerine with supporting grapefruit, medium-low grainy malt with low hop notes and medium-low bitterness. Finishes dry with an orange pith and tangerine aftertaste. The medium-high body is surprising, with a light honey quality, lightly syrupy rather than creamy, and a slight fruit-rind bite. This is a very nice pint of beer, emphasizing beer over fruit. For me it could use a touch more malt and a touch more flavor hops, but only a touch. For pairing, this moves up to slightly more robust seafood. 5.9% ABV
Their current flagship, the brewery rep said “the one that keeps the doors open.” Starts with a medium high yeasty aroma with medium bread & biscuit malt and a spicy tang. A note of plums and stone fruit emerges. Pours very hazy yellow, very effervescent, building & sustaining a generous white head with a hint of the color of lemon chiffon. The flavor starts with a blend of spicy yeast, grainy malt and stone fruit, plums and faint tart cherry. Very balanced among those elements, it adds medium-low bitterness, then finishes dry with that flavor blend lingering. It has just above medium body, and medium-high carbonation gives a slight carbonic bite. There is no creaminess and no astringency, just a pleasant mouthful. It’s no wonder this has become a flagship, the only wonder is that enough people appreciate this rich complexity. I certainly do! 8.5% ABV, 38 IBU
Here’s a big citrus & pine hop aroma with low bready malt and a light apricot note. There is a light alcohol note, too. It’s a slightly hazy pour, straw with a medium frothy white head, sustained by high effervescence. The flavor starts with stone fruit, then a wave of hops gives orange pith and juice with pine and resin. The low maltiness is almost lost in the hops but enough hangs on to keep balance. Medium bitterness is there, but the beer emphasizes hop aroma and flavor: balanced IBUs. The finish is actually on the sweet side, barely, leading into a gently fruity aftertaste accented by bitterness. There is medium body, lightly creamy with some prickly sensations from the hops, medium high carbonation and mild alcohol warmth. This is a fine, restrained DIPA rather than a hop bomb. 8.5% ABV, 75 IBU