Monthly Archives: June 2015

Hats for the Summer



Magic Hat Brewing Company

The Magic Hat Brewery has been putting a performance into every bottle of beer since 1994. Today, the South Burlington, VT-based brewery puts out upwards of 175,000 barrels each year, and the brewing process, in all its strange and satisfying glory, has never been more accessible.

If summer is the time for easy living, then it’s time for easy drinking beer. I’ll never turn down a good stout, but it’s not my first choice this time of year. I notice that each of these five brews has very moderate alcohol. I wouldn’t call them “sessionable” but they’re not far from it. This was last week’s tasting at Growler & Gill.

MHT_STEALINTIME_12oz3D_FINALStealin’ Time

Here’s their summer seasonal, a wheat beer brewed with ginger. It pours gold with a brief white head. The nose gives some ginger but also a grape quality like a white wine. The flavor is like a shandy with ginger and malt. It has a medium mouthfeel with silky effervescence and a long ginger ale & malt finish. Very refreshing. 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU

MHT_ELECPEEL_12oz3D_2014Electric Peel IPA

From spicy ginger to tropical fruit, this starts with an intense grapefruit nose. The flavor is of grapefruit and malt with citrus hops reinforcing the grapefruit. I can see this would be very refreshing by the pool or ocean, especially once tired of notorious Mexican beer with slices of lime. It has a gentle finish of grapefruit and hops. 6.0% ABV, 65 IBU

MHT_DRMACH_12oz3D_FINALDream Machine India Pale Lager

Summer dreaming can use a Dream Machine. This pours amber with a white head. It has an interesting lagery nose with some nice malt and a lot more hops delivering spice with maybe a hint of floral. The flavor is of bakery malt with a slight sour citrus note and a certain roastiness. The finish is gentle and alternates between hops and sweetness. I suppose that IPL is cleaner and easier drinking than IPA, but usually I’ll take the IPA. 5.7% ABV, 50 IBU

MHT_9_12oz3DMagic Hat #9

Their flagship, this is light amber with an off-white head, dissipating to a ring around the top of the glass. It has a light yeasty nose with hardly any hops at refrigerator temperature, but some floral hops emerge almost immediately. The flavor is very malty with just a bit of sweetness, then some hops come in on the end to dispel the sweetness and dry things out a little. The hops are very restrained. A little stone fruit comes in and persists in the malty finish. There’s more caramel as it warms. Last year, the presenter described #9 as a gateway drug to craft beer. I guess so, but it’s a bit bland for veterans, with just a hint of apricot fruit and spice and a touch of hops. I’ve heard it recommended for IPA virgins so maybe it can be a first step on the slippery lupulin slope. 5.1% ABV, 20 IBU

MHT_WILHELM_SCREAM_12oz3D_2014Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin

Looking back to last fall, a movie reference? It leads with pumpkin on the nose, but more ale than pumpkin in the flavor–not a complaint–with a nice spiciness to it. It spreads foamy on the tongue, almost chewable and I like it. It has an aftertaste more than a finish, but quite nice. 5.4% ABV, 20 IBU

Images courtesy of Magic Hat Brewing
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From The City, Two Boroughs

At this point I don’t think that New York City is well known for beer. Of course there were a zillion breweries in the city before the black days of Prohibition. Some re-emerged after that sad period, but tragically, almost all died out. Brooklyn Brewery led the revival, followed by Six Point, but here are some newer champions of The City, from Brooklyn and The Bronx.

KelSo Beer Company

A Beer Grows in Brooklyn

KelsoPilsnerKelSo Pilsner

Clear straw in the glass with a medium white head. The aroma is distinctly cracker malt with a healthy shot of yeast. The flavor is fruity with a touch of sweetness which grows on the finish only to be arrested by lightly bracing hops. Very clean and refreshing, and it reminds me more of a Czech Pilsner than the German variants. 5.5% ABV

KelsoIPAKelSo Industrial India Pale Ale

Hazy gold with a persistent yellowish head, delivering a big citrus & malt nose with a sort of melon fruitiness. The flavor is just as big with bakery malt and spicy hops duking it out, still with a nice touch of fruit. The finish emphasizes the hops as earth tones rather than citrus. This is an East Coast sort of imperial IPA, rather than a West Coast hop bomb. 10.0% ABV.

KelSo Carrollgaarden

This one pours hazy straw with a moderate head. It leads with a mild crackery pilsner nose moving into wheat maltiness with yeast and subtle esters. Those develop into stone fruit in the flavor, with continuing malt and yeast. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and the medium-length finish wraps this up pleasantly. 5.0% ABV, 20 IBU

The Bronx Brewery

From a borough known more for the Yankees than for beer, It interests me that they put the grain bill and hop bill right on the can. It’s an opportunity to drink and learn…or at least to drink.

BronxSummerBronx Summer Pale Ale

Light amber in the glass with a brief off-white head. The aroma os citrusy going beyond hop citrus to lemon peel, crackery malt with a hint of yeast. Very crisp, lightly fruity with the fruit intensifying on the palette moving toward a fruit & malt finish. This might be an ale to lure the lager crowd coming from the beach. 5.2%ABV 16 IBU, Grain bill: Muntons Extra Pale, Briess Ashburne Mild Malt; Hop Bill: Hopsteiner Expt. [Experimental] 04190

BronxIPABronx IPA Session Ale

Pours golden with a ragged bubbly cream head. The nose is restrained with fruity hops and dry malt. Very fruity and wheaty perhaps more hefeweizen than IPA. The wheat comes through along with tropical fruit, not citrus but rather papaya or mango with a shot of confectioners sugar, but the sweetness is controlled. The finish is where the hops show themselves but very much in balance with the sweet malt. 5.0% ABV 59 IBU. Grain Bill: Weyermann Vienna, Briess Red Wheat Malt; Hop Bill: Caliente, Palisades

Bronx Brewery Rye Pale Ale

Another golden orange beer, this pours with little head and not much aroma, subtle malt and fruit notes that emerge more as the temperature rises. The subtle nose transforms into a very flavorful mouthful and a spicy rye body that’s hard to describe and quite refreshing. To me there’s a hint of butterscotch. The finish is very smooth with bitterness coming in and out. I like this. 6.3% ABV, 58 IBU

We’ll have to visit the other three boroughs.

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From Rawalpindi to Frederick


Flying Dog Brewery



Here we have an Aspen brewpub conceived in Rawalpindi that became a Denver brewery which moved to Frederick, MD for mysterious reasons, presumably reasons not connected to Barbara Fritchie.* It must be one of–if not the only–brewery founded by an astrophysicist. Carnegie-Mellon can be proud.

fdNumeroUnoNúmero Uno Summer Cerveza

“Ale brewed with agave nectar with lime zest added.” Clear gold in the glass with a brief white head. It leads with a citrusy lager nose where lime is clear and there’s flour-like malt and a hint of spice. The flavor is malty, citrusy, crisp and refreshing, with an underlying sweetness that grows with subsequent sips. This is what Corona would be if it grew up. The finish is light, brief, and beckons the next round. 4.9% ABV

fdRagingBitchBottleRaging Bitch Belgian-style IPA

“Two inflammatory words…one wild drink.” Pours clear amber with a foamy yellowish head that laces the glass. The aroma starts with Belgian yeast, then spicy hops then bready malt. Slightly heavy mouthfeel, slightly silky. The flavor is really spicy and fruity like a cloved orange, then a wave of malt arrives with spiced edges. This gives a rich balance of hops and malt, and the spicy note is intriguing. This would go well with spicy–not hot–food like creamier Indian dishes or Mexican dishes. The finish brings in a dark caramel note and lingering hops. As it warms, a note like fermented dark fruit sneaks in. Perhaps better a little colder. 8.3%ABV

fdSnakeDogLabelCropSnake Dog IPA

This shows slightly hazy pale amber with a cream head, quite persistent. It has a pine and spice nose with full bready malt and a bit of yeast. This isn’t their Belgian IPA but suggests the style. A hoppy slightly honeyed flavor follows, again with lots of malt and medium body. The finish continues the hops with a metallic note, then malt spreads back across as another wave of flavor This ebbs leaving a nice lingering bitterness. This isn’t a hop bomb, just a good solid IPA. 7.1%ABV

bloodlinebottleBloodline

Pours straight amber with a brief head that laces the glass. There is a strong cat pee nose with a hint of fruitiness. If you can get past the aroma, the flavor is totally different with lots of malt leading to blood orange peel and very little hops. The finish is smooth and resiny hops come in, drying things out.

fdOldScratchLabelCropOld Scratch Amber Lager

Dark amber in the glass with a medium off-white head. The aroma is of rich deep caramel malt with spicy hops, earthy. The flavor gives heavy malt with fermented fruit like plums, and toffee notes. The finish is the lingering flavor but it gets drier as hops assert themselves. 5.5% ABV

PALEALE6packPale Ale

Amber with a copper tinge and a brief white head. Gives a rich malty nose with caramel sweetness beneath spicy hops. It has medium body with almost no effervescence. The flavor strikes a good balance between caramel malt and hops with a little shot of crisp cracker coming through. The finish is long and gentle, mostly caramel with a hint of spice-pine hops. Very good, and you can tell it’s a flagship because it’s the only one in this set where the name is simply the style. 5.5% ABV.

The bottle copy is trite, but in this case quite accurate: “The classics transcend time and place . . . definitive in nature, molded by nurture, and the epitome of taste.”

* Speaking of classics, and not of beer:

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a [Flying?] dog! March on!” he said…..

– John Greenleaf Whittier

Bloodline and Pale Ale images courtesy Flying Dog Brewery


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Newburgh — Brewed with Heart

Newburgh Brewing Company

Newburgh Brewing Official Logo

People have been brewing beer in Newburgh since before America was America – it’s a tradition we’re proud to be a part of. Most important, we honor you. We love making beer. We pour our passion into this brewery every day and we are deeply honored each time you choose to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Cream Ale Can_ManhattanCream Ale

This is their version of a New York regional standard, originally brewed “to compete with the surging popularity of lager beer.” Well, lager may have won the war, but cream ale survived to continue the fight. The nose is basically “beer” with mild malt and a hint of spicy hops. It pours clear golden straw with very little head. The flavor is of crackery malt, very dry and even drier on the finish with what tastes to me like Saaz hops, but is not. The website shows Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, and Cascade. I had expected something sweeter, perhaps because of the dreaded (or legendary) Genny Cream. This is much better, a crisp summer sipper. 4.2% ABV, 35 IBU

East Kolsch_ManhattanEast Kölsch

Kölsch is the ale equivalent of pilsner, native to Köln (Cologne) in Germany, and this one is crystal clear straw in the glass with a brief bright white head. It has a subtle aroma of bready malt with a hint of hops and a tiny fruit note. Medium mouthfeel comes with some sweetness, lots of malt, and a hint of earthy hops. The finish goes from slightly sweet to dry and back again, ending dry. 4.5% ABV, 25 IBU Until recently this was exclusively available at Blue Smoke in Manhattan, and it must go great with their barbecue. Those outside the city should thank Blue Smoke for sharing this with the rest of us.

Brown Ale_ManhattanBrown Ale

“In the south of England, they prefer their brown ale maltier and lower in alcohol. Here in Newburgh, we tend to agree.”
This is an English Brown Ale, classic for the style. It pours dark brown with brief tan head. The nose is roasty malt flirting with smoke. There is a light to medium mouthfeel with slight creaminess, and less bite than suggested by the roasty elements. The finish carries that malt with a refreshing light bitterness and ends up smooth. 4.2% ABV, 25 IBU

Magnanini Niagara Tripel_ManhattanMagnanini Niagara Tripel

Brewed with Niagara grape must, in fact more grape juice than water in the recipe. Golden straw with a medium off-white head. There’s a slight sour bite to the nose, then tartness on palette swinging quickly to sweet. There is more grape than malt in the flavor, and this might lure white wine drinkers who think they don’t like beer. The tartness persists into the finish with crackery malt notes shading all the way to toast. Very complex with high alcohol and almost no bitterness. 11.3% ABV, 10 IBU

Hop Drop DIPA_ManhattanHop Drop DIPA

This pours with a persistent bubbly white head coating the glass over medium amber with slight haze. The nose is of strong piney hops with a hint of citrus. Caramel malt duels with hops on the palette with caramel slightly in the lead. On the finish a sort of cinnamon bun malt emerges from a lake of pine & resin hops, lingering long. 10.0% ABV, 65 IBU

Oh, and let me give a quick look back to Winter, and a seasonal that I tasted then. (Don’t worry, winter won’t be back soon.)

Winter Spruce Porter

A Baltic porter, your nose gets filled with Christmas tree, with resiny hops on top of the real thing. The flavor is surprisingly balanced, full to medium bodied and pine-hoppy over a dark malt backbone. It’s not really bitter, and sweetness balances the whole thing, along with a surprising note of mint. You have to be in the right mood, but I’m impressed. 6.6% ABV

Images courtesy of Newburgh Brewing Company
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Southern Tier: From Tangier to India (Pale)

Southern Tier

Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York, has grown to produce more than 100,000 barrels of beer annually. The hand crafted ales are now available in more than thirty States and points beyond.

Founders Phineas DeMink and Allen “Skip” Yahn started the brewery [in 2002] with the vision of reviving the practice of small batch brewing to a region rich in brewing tradition.

This was a tasting at Growler & Gill, followed by extensive testing/tasting at home to confirm and extend my research. Have I mentioned lately that research is the best part of writing this blog?

Tangier

A soft start to the tasting, I couldn’t pick up the tangerine, though at least one taster said he did. Without the tangerine it came across as a bland IPA. It was the first offering of the evening so my taste buds weren’t masked by anything else. Pours orange straw with a very brief light head. On the next try I got a fruit nose, not necessarily tangerine, but this time I had just eaten fruit tart. Citrus hops in the nose, to be sure. The flavor was quite bitter, perhaps in contrast to the tart, but plenty of crackery malt and citrus hops. The aroma needs a wide mouth glass and volume; it doesn’t work in small portions. The finish is fairly mild, citrusy, and not very bitter; the hops hit hardest in the flavor. 4.6% ABV

stSonnetLabelCrop_02Sonnet Saison

This saison is really good rich farmhouse stuff, described as “Belgian Style Super Saison, Ale Brewed with Lemongrass.” The beer is pale gold with a bright white foamy head. It has a yeasty funky nose with lots of malt and spice, almost white pepper. Bottle conditioning gives it a rich foamy mouthfeel, and the flavor shows complex spice like spice cake with ginger and pepper. The long finish continues the spicy malt and no hops that I’m aware of. 8.5% ABV

stCompassCompass

“Bottle Conditioned Sparkling Ale Brewed with Rose Hips” Pale amber in the glass with a very generous foamy head. Delicious citrus hops hit as soon as the cap comes off. Tangerine and sweet malt aroma with a floral cast and a little note of bread flour. The flavor starts with honeyed malt and lots of hops, now a bit more herbal but then fruitiness comes in, more like apricot than citrus. Hops play with malt on the quiet finish with only moderate bitterness. Very easy drinking which could lead to trouble at 9.0% ABV

stUnearthlyUnearthly

A double IPA, this pours with a generous ivory head over amber. The aroma is rich with molasses, malt and strong piney hops with an herbal character. The flavor delivers Belgian-like yeastiness and fruit, an apricot note, lots of hops and a hint of spice. The finish emphasizes more piney hops, a solid shot. The last time I tasted this I wrote “Unearthly, maybe; unbalanced, definitely . . . and intended to be.” 9.5% ABV

Choklat Oranj

Pours black, no more, no less, with a chocolate milk head. The aroma and flavor have intense dark chocolate with lots of orange peel, mouth filling and mouth coating. This is not to my taste but I would think it would be excellent if you liked fruit with your dark chocolate…and likewise if you poured this over vanilla ice cream. RateBeer gives this a score of 100. 10.0% ABV

stIPAs

At home I decided on Quadrupel IPA — not in style but rather four IPA varieties — to focus on one of their greatest strengths. They write “At the Southern Tier Brewing Company, vigorously hopped beer is our standard and inspiration.” No argument here!

stRightOfWay-labelCrop_02Right-O-Way IPA

This is a session IPA, orange-amber in the glass with a bubbly yellowish head. The nose is of complex hops, floral and herbal with light citrus and pine. The mouthfeel is light and foamy, the flavor is of medium bready malt with hops all around and a hint of fruit. The finish focuses on the hops settling into earthy bitterness. Light alcohol, unlight hops. 4.5% ABV

stIPAIPA

I’ll call this a flagship, setting the IPA standard at a high level. It’s another orange-amber beer with a brief bubbly head. There’s no surprise that the aroma is hop-forward, similar to Right-O-Way but even richer in hops and certainly maltier. There’s an earthiness, strong and hoppy, with something like tea in the flavor. The mouthfeel is rich, and the beer finishes up with quite strong resiny hoppiness–and tea. This seems like a heavy hitter after the session IPA, making me look forward even more to the doubles. 7.3% ABV

st2XIPA2XIPA

Here’s a double IPA, slightly hazy pale gold with an off white head which lingers. It’s another rich mix of hops (4 kinds)where nothing sticks out of the melange, earthy with maybe a little resin over a bread malt backbone (3 kinds of malt). There are more earthy hops and malt on the palette with a medium mouthfeel rather refreshing. Thorough hop bitterness–now more piney–settles in. As the beer warms, some caramel notes enter the flavor and linger into the finish. 8.2% ABV

st2XONE2XONE

Single hop, single malt, double IPA. This has the same color as 2XIPA but a bigger light yellow head. The clean hop profile tends toward the crispness of a European hop like Fuggles rather than the citrus or pine of the New World. The malt undertone is similar to 2XIPA but simpler. The flavor is much like the aroma but the caramel touch arrives sooner than in the 2XIPA. It has a very smooth finish, well balanced between hop and malt. I’ll state a minor complaint that the bottle doesn’t say WHICH one hop and one malt are used. Last time I knew it was Mosaic. Maybe they change recipes but not labels. Ah, the website says “Equinox hops and Superior Pale malt” so there’s my answer, and undoubtedly it’s easier to change website text than label text! 8.1% ABV

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Four Countries, Five States



If there is a theme to this post, it’s the geographic diversity of good beer . . . and eclectic taste!

Maine MO GlassMaine Beer Company MO Pale Ale

An American Pale Ale, this pours golden amber with a ragged off-white head. It delivers a citrus hop aroma with pine. Bread malt comes in on the flavor, quickly overpowered by nice piney hop bitterness and a foamy feel. More malt develops on the finish and hops slide back into balance, finishing dry. I like this a lot. 6.0% ABV
MO stands for Madeline & Oliver. As it says on bottle and website: “Daniel (my brother the brewer) had twins while starting a brewery. Cheers to his courage and beer making skills.” He should tip his hat to Daniel’s wife, as well!

Mikkeller-Better-Half-Crop_Mikkeller Better Half

It’s interesting to prepare to open the can with no idea what’s inside. There’s no style indicated, no description, just the name and the skull/blonde image with a hop cone and grains. It pours peachy amber with a yellowish head, slightly ragged. It’s a beautiful shade and just a touch off crystal clear. Piney hops arrive from a foot away, gaining fruity complexity like plums, any malt is in the background. The flavor is of resinous hops, caramel, and then more hops, and once again any malt is in the background. Further sips bring in some citrus like mandarin orange, alternating in waves with the hops. This is way up there on the bitterness, maybe 80 IBU. 6.8% ABV. Once again, I like this a lot.

Monks Blood21st Amendment Monk’s Blood

Almost opaque in the glass, dark chestnut brown with a tan head, slightly ragged. The head dissipates in a couple of minutes, lightly lacing the glass. The nose leads with a moment of earthy hops, blending straight into caramel malt with a touch of smoke and stone fruit. Caramel and bourbon come in full on the flavor, with spice and vanilla behind. The body is slightly thin but still mouth coating with a touch of effervescence. The finish is moderrately strong oak and a shot of fig, drying gradually. 8.3% ABV

Rushing Duck Bauli Saison
Fresh from the tap, this is rich yeasty hazy gold. The slightly sour nose has complex notes of lemon grass, coriander, and some citrusy esters like Belgian ales. It has a mildly effervescent light body, herbal, straight malt, and no apparent hops. Refreshing. The finish is the proverbial “short and sweet.” The lemon grass suggests an obvious pairing with Thai food. 6% ABV

Stiegl MugStiegl Salzburger Goldbrau

An Austrian lager, pale gold with a long-lasting foamy white head, replenished by ample effervescence. It has a floral spicy hop nose with crackery malt. The flavor features bready malt with a faint hint of stone fruit. It’s dry like a German pils but with deeper flavor like a Czech lager or a Marzen. Mildly hoppy finish, somewhat brief. Refreshing, and suitable for its large, distinctive mug. 4.9% ABV

Moody Tongue NectarineMoody Tongue Sliced Nectarine IPA

Coppery in the glass with a ragged yellowish head lasting a couple of minutes. Arrives with a strong nectarine nose followed by citrus hops and a hint of cracker malt. The flavor is sugary with stone fruit, not specifically nectarine. Bitterness comes in on a fairly long finish of mixed citrus & resin. The hops and fruit come to a nice balance. 6% ABV

The brewery claims that it’s style is “culinary beer” from Pilsen, Chicago. “Beer is our food. We look forward to feeding your moody tongue.”

Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale
This pours hazy amber with a finely-textured head and persistent lacing. The nose is nice Belgian estery peach and banana. It is mouth filling with foamy cracker malt, medium sweetness and yeast with stone fruit. The hops dry out the finish nicely. 9.5% ABV, 34 IBU

Karmalite-Label_02Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet
Hazy straw in the glass with a big foamy white head, supported by ample effervescence. The aroma of yeast and bready malt features peaches and perhaps banana. The rich, lively flavor emphasizes the estery fruit notes, but again with lots of classic Belgian yeast and bready malt. All those elements continue through a long finish with just a hint of bitterness nibbling at the edges.

“3 grain” beer, still brewed after a 17th century recipe from the old Carmelite monastery of Dendermonde.

So this is an abbey-style ale, no longer associated with an active monastery . . . and one of my all-time favorite beers! Consistently excellent! 8.40% ABV

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On the Boulevard of Broken . . . No, Recycled

Boulevard Brewing Company

No broken dreams here!

From Kansas City MO, Boulevard calls themselves:

the Midwest’s home for fine ales and lagers since 1989. Boulevard’s mission is simple: to produce fresh, flavorful beers using the finest traditional ingredients and the best of both old and new brewing techniques

One thing I noticed from their website is that they emphasize sustainability, making themselves a “zero landfill” company, and even starting a glass recycling company, Ripple Glass, in response to a lack of local recycling. “We’re proud to report that in 2011, Ripple Glass recycled enough glass to produce nearly 100 million Boulevard beer bottles.”

To recycle bottles you must first empty them, so I set out to do my duty. I picked up one of their Sample 12 packs, three each of two of their standards, and three each of two “Tasting Room” offerings. I must say that I was hoping to try their Tasting Room Red IPA, but the Mid-Coast was a fine alternate, presumably from an older Sample 12.

BoulevardUnfilteredWheatUnfiltered Wheat Beer

This was a GABF® Gold Medal winner, and it’s gold in the glass as well, a bit cloudy, with a brief foamy white head, then a yeasty nose with bready malt and a hint of sourdough. It’s a malty mouthful with light stone fruit blending straight into the finish with a drying hop touch at the end. 4.4% ABV, 14 IBU

BoulevardMidCoastIPATasting Room Mid-Coast IPA

Pours golden straw a with persistent foamy white head. As soon as the cap comes off a wave of citrus & pine rushes out. The nose stays with strong hops and maybe a hint of malt underneath, a hint becoming more pronounced as the liquid warms a little. Malt comes in on the flavor with restrained hops or at least restrained relative to the nose. It’s refreshingly effervescent with a bright clean profile. The hops turn resiny on the finish though citrus and pine persist. Initially bitter, the finish smooths out and lingers quite a while. 5.6% ABV, 104 IBUs, so moderate alcohol and immoderate hops!

Boulevard80Acre80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer

This is a hazy light amber beer with a foamy ivory head. As with the Mid-Coast, a bright citrus aroma hits as soon as the cap comes off, then an estery shot like cantaloupe with bready malt emerging. Stone fruit and malt flavor follow with hops nibbling at the edges. The fruitiness persists well into the finish with simmering hops, still mostly citrus. 5.5% ABV, 20 IBUs. That IBU number is a big surprise to me, a very hoppy beer with very low bitterness. Clearly they emphasized aroma hops and flavor hops, not bittering hops.

BoulevardOatmealStoutTasting Room Oatmeal Stout

Fills the glass with opaque darkest brown and a generous tight foam head, mocha foam. The aroma is roasty roasty with dark chocolate notes. The flavor is refreshing and malty, reflecting a very complex malt bill, still roasty and almost woody like a barrel aged beer, again with chocolate notes. The medium-length finish is quite smooth and once again roasty, continuing all the flavor notes. Some folks think that all stouts are harsh, this would prove them wrong. 5.5% ABV, 35 IBUs.

Four varieties were not enough, so I then picked up a six pack:

BoulevardHeavyLiftingLabelCropHeavy Lifting IPA

Hazy light amber with a very generous, ragged, light yellow head. Earthy herbal hops fill the nose with spice notes and lots of malt and yeast. There’s a toffee flavor like some sort of hoppy sweet roll. The finish continues the toffee but is thoroughly dried and bittered by the hops. The hops were stronger on the nose and finish than on the palette. Their website says that this beer is based on the Tasting Room Mid-Coast; of the two I preferred the bright clean Mid-Coast, but that’s a choice between two good options. 6.2% ABV, 80 IBU

As you see, the Heavy Lifting comes in cans. That makes Heavy Lifting less heavy to lift, and less heavy to ship, further reducing their environmental impact. I’m pleased to have tried Boulevard, and my compliments to my friend Kent @nyrugby1 who pointed them out to me.





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Down in the (Hudson) Valley


Lower Hudson Valley Craft Beer Festival

I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion.
                  – Miguel de Cervantes

Now *this* was an occasion! The festival name is a little long, but the event was just right. Saturday June 6, D-Day, with 53 breweries pouring over 88 brews, and 5 cideries pouring another half dozen libations. Two 3-hour sessions, or 4-hour sessions (with additional choices) for those who purchased VIP tickets.

BeerFest

Many of my favorite breweries were represented. To mention just a few: Allagash, Ballast Point, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, Ommegang, Stone, Unibroue, etc., etc., and two that I just reviewed recently, Knee Deep and Jack’s Abby. I generally skipped beers that I have tasted in the past, and I skipped the sours.

It was mildly scary to realize that only about 7 of the 53 breweries were new to me. I made sure to try these (though now I realize I missed one). Many of these new ones are local. To briefly list those I tried: Altech, Alphabet City, Peekskill, Roscoe, and Speakeasy, plus Cigar City and Other Half where I might have had them before. To call out a few beers in particular, Altech Kentucky Bourbon Ale, Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, and Roscoe Trout Town Red Ale.

Perhaps I let down my faithful readers , but I did *not* take notes at the event. I was there to taste rather than to review, and besides, after 20 or 30 tastes my reviews might be a bit too favorable, kind of a variant on beer goggles.

BeerGoggles

My brother in law and my sister in law’s boyfriend came with me, and I feel like I let them down a little. Their tastes don’t range as widely as mine (i.e. they don’t like hoppy beer), but usually I’m pretty good at pointing people to brews that they will like. I thought they would like the Pale Wheats, and those were a bust for them. However, I was able to direct them to some sure things, like Unibroue La Fin Du Monde and Ommegang Fleur de Houblon. You may notice a theme there. A couple of others were the Cigar City Maduro and the Firestone Walker Opal. In any case, they had a great time.

Many, many thanks to my wife for making this possible. The problem I have with beer festivals is getting home safely and legally after doing justice to a $50 admission. Last year I looked into using cabs to and from, but that would have added $60 each way! This year, she volunteered to drive the three of us over and pick us up afterward.

Thanks also to Growler & Gill for hosting the event, and congrats on doing a fine job.

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Abby Not Abbey

Jack’s Abby

From Framingham, MA, they are an “all lager” brewery, which seems unusual to me in the craft beer world.

Jack’s Abby only brews lagers—not ales. We not only love the taste of the lager, but also its rich history.

Founded in 2011 by three brothers, Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler, Jack’s Abby has become a mainstay of the craft brewing scene in the Northeast and nationwide.

JA_LeisureTimeLeisure Time Spiced Wheat

This is golden in the glass with no head to speak of. It’s very clear for wheat but then it’s lager rather than ale. It has a mild nose, hardly any, just a light maltiness and maybe a hint of yeast. The palette shows very dry cracker-malty with not much fruit or spice. It’s basically bland but quite sippable. 4.8% ABV 15 IBU

JA_HoponiusUnion_bottleHoponius Union IPL

Pours golden amber with a good white head. The Strong citrus nose comes with pine and bread malt and just a hint of cat pee. It has an earthy hop flavor with malt and yeast underneath. It delivers a piney hop finish with caramel, and gets quite bitter way out on the end. This makes me think that an all lager brewery operates at a disadvantage when it comes to strong New World hops. They work much better with ale. 6.7 %ABV 65 IBU

trIPL

“Triple India Style Lager,” it’s golden copper with moderate white head. The aroma is of citrusy hops–lots of hops–orange with bakery malt. Rich flavor brings dried orange peel and lots of malt, and a pretty full mouthfeel. Candy sugar with citrus hops linger on the long finish. They write: “our special warm hopping process help the Columbus, Chinook and Citra hops dominate, giving the beer a bitter back and a long, complex finish.” OK, so maybe New World hops *do* work with lager! 10.0% ABV

JA_SmokeAndDaggerSmoke & Dagger Black Lager

This is a rauchbier, a smoked beer, characterized by malt dried over an open flame. It’s dark chestnut, opaque with a brief tan head. Mild smoke on the nose with light sweetness and roasty malt. If there was such a thing as a good cigar it might have an aroma like this. The flavor is of lightly smoked bread over caramel with a hint of cardamom, quite smooth. The finish is long, lightly smoky, and sweet, with slight smoky bitterness replacing hop bitterness. It’s quite refreshing in cool weather but not a “by the pool” sort of refreshing. This is much milder than I expected of a rauchbier, and I like the restrained approach. 5.8% ABV, 25 IBU

Berliner Weiss (Berliner Style Lager)

I didn’t expect to like this since generally I don’t like sour beer. Hazy straw in the glass, basically with no head. It seems that Jack’s Abby doesn’t go for “heady” beer. The nose is faintly sour but I would think saison rather than too sour, and mild almost crackery malt. The flavor is slightly sour on first contact, then comes a surge of sourness. There’s malt bit it gets lost in the sour. The finish is refreshing rather than sour and at 3.5% this should be fine on hot summer days. The finish continues with a grapefruit or green apple pucker. I’m pleasantly surprised. It would not be my first choice but it’s much more than acceptable. 3.5% ABV, very little bitterness.

Let me finish with a shout out from one blog to another: http://jacksabbybrewing.com/blog/

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