I’ve been neglecting the blog–but not the beer drinking–so I have a lot of catching up to do. We’ll start with a couple of European pilsners, continue with three IPAs and an APA, a Scotch Ale, a Barleywine, and conclude with a Hot Chocolate Stout.
The Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle has existed since 1956—so for almost 60 years. Its unusual name is embodied on the labels of the 0.33 l bottles. Just as today, the original Tannenzäpfle labels depicted spruce-fir branches accompanied by pinecones. These pinecones are what gave this beer its name.
From Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus, this pours a very clear straw, and the malty nose has a hint of sour. On the palette it’s crisp, dry and pure. This is what Milwaukee pretends to be, this is canonical Pilsner with no adjuncts. Absolutely perfect for a hot summer day and pretty damned good in the depths of winter. Gentle malty finish. Would be terrific with shellfish or to freshen the palette after heavier fare. 5.1% ABV, 32 IBU
Mikkeller Imperial Pilsner
This went into the glass with no head, unusual for a pilsner, cloudy light amber. The nose is of caramel malt poured in a bakery. On the palette I get a medium body with fruity caramel hinting at cinnamon raisin. . This gradually wraps itself in hops, still with hints of caramel and bread. It’s a nice twist on the traditional pilsner, more full and less crisp. 8.0% ABV
Light amber to dark straw in the glass with a generous persistent head. There are lovely citrusy hops apparent from a foot away while pouring, then there’s a sweetness to the aroma. On the palate comes a creamy mouthfeel with lots of hops over a malt backbone. The finish is restrained with some piney notes coming in over the citrus. Very sippable and the 7% ABV could sneak up under the guise of a session IPA. 70 IBU, but surprisingly balanced for that level of hops.
Pours chestnut amber with a generous light tan head. Starts with an herbaceous hop nose with underlying malt. The mouthfeel is effervescent and the flavor delivers earthy malt and hops. The finish is creamy with gentle hops. . . which slowly intensify on very long finish. 5.7% ABV, 70 IBU
This pours a light amber, or hazy gold with the light behind it. The brief light head then laces the glass. Gives a strong herbal hop nose, turning to citrusy hops on the palette with firm malt and light effervescence. This swiftly moves into a bitter herbal lingering finish. As the beer warms the mouthfeel grows stronger as does a hop candy flavor, and everything gets smoother. AB-InBev has not harmed this, at least not yet. 8.2% ABV 73 IBU
Renamed to Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale, in the glass this APA is light amber with a brief white head. Malt and yeast come on the nose with a hint of honey and maybe stone fruit. The flavor is Belgian-like, similar to a saison, emphasizing yeast over malt and bypassing hops. The mouth feel is mildly fizzy. The finish is subtle, alternating malt with a slight sour tang. 5.7% ABV, 37 IBU
A beautiful light tan head builds over a coffee-dark glass. The nose has a sort of plum character, a hint of sour, then stronger hints build of toffee and coffee. Silky smooth and creamy on the palate, again with a hint of sour, with a pleasant malt background, ending with a dry hop note, after which the original sour plum creeps in. To me, it’s more like a Guinness-style stout, or at least a porter, than an ale. Then again, I suppose a Yorkshire Ale like Old Peculier has a similar character with less head (which requires the widget to dispense the nitrogen). Nice stuff. 8.0% ABV
Cricket Hill Reserve Ale No. 3 Barleywine
Pours dark amber with a one-inch light tan head. Starts with a nice roasted barley and yeast nose, then toffee with a hint of chocolate and a tiny bit of fruit. On the palate, chocolate and molasses come with a slightly sour edge on the first sip, but any sourness disappears on subsequent sips. Long malty finish. 8.5% ABV
From their Brewhouse Rarities series, I expected heat though it didn’t say so. No, it’s not hot. This isn’t like, for example, Hot Jala Heim from Horseheads, rather it gives very, very dry bitter chocolate, almost dusty. It pours black with a tan head. Starts with only a tiny bit of chocolate in the aroma, but this increases steadily on nose and palette as the beer warms from fridge temperatures. There is a light bitter finish tinged with the flavor of chilis, making a fine cold weather brew.