Sunday, February 28, 2010

243. Boulder Beer Drink-Off: Singletrack Copper Ale vs. Pass Time Pale Ale

These two beers are from Boulder Beer Company; we picked both of ’em up because we don’t normally see these beers in our neck of the woods (unlike the Hazed & Infused and the other premium Looking Glass Boulder Beers), so we figured that we should grab a couple to compare. We’ve previously tried Hazed & Infused, Obovoid and Flashback.

Singletrack has a sweet crystal malt nose with low levels of some sort of special roast in the background, and/or a drier biscuit aroma; it is a crystal clear copper color with a reddish hue and a minimal white head. It begins with a sweet caramel malt front before moving into a neutral middle with a touch of bitterness, and finishes spicy and dry with some lingering bitterness; the bitterness is bigger at the end than in the middle, giving Singletrack a cumulative or building sense of bitterness across the flavor profile. Singletrack is medium bodied with a decent carbonation level that helps keep the beer from being too sticky, although it is still a bit heavy on the palate. A good beer for regular drinking, but nothing overly exciting—works decently and is well crafted, but not as flavorful or as fresh tasting as the Pass Time.

From the Boulder website: “Singletrack Copper Ale is refreshing, yet full-flavored; a medium-bodied copper ale. Not too light, not too’s just right.”

ABV: 4.97%
OG: 13.2° P
Malts: Medium British Caramel, U.S. 2-row, Flaked Rye, & U.S. Carapils
Hops: Nugget & Tettnang

Pass Time:
Pass Time has a bready and low level fruity nose to start; it is a crystal clear pale copper to gold color with a minimal white head. The more aggressive bready and sweet nose leads into a sweeter but less substantial front; there is more sweetness and less caramel, and less body leading into the middle, which is lightly bitter and has a dryer toasty malt flavor. This leads to a finish that has small hints of toffee and butterscotch to accompany the lingering bitterness, and is more rounded and cleaner than Singletrack. Pass Time is medium to light bodied with a touch of creaminess at the conclusion; the carbonation is moderate, but helps round the profile, and while sweet is not sticky or cloying in any way—the sweetness carries with it a refreshing characteristic that is eminently drinkable.
From the Boulder website: “Pass Time Pale Ale is a smooth, soft, drinkable British-style Pale Ale—sit back and pass the time.”

ABV: 4.96%
OG: 12.9° P
Malts: U.S. Medium Caramel, U.S. Dark Caramel, & U.S. 2-row
Hops: Cascade, Chinook, & Hallertau

We’re giving the nod to Pass Time, partly because of the fresher malt flavor, and partly because it is more drinkable (although both are good drinking)—the brighter hop profile and the sweeter yet lighter body sits better on the palate. Although let’s be honest: if we lived in Colorado, this would be a debate worth having. But we don’t—we live in Dayton, and the lack of regional beer makes us wish we had either one of these beers as our local beer of choice.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

242. Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA

In our never-ending quest for beer nirvana, we’ve decided to embrace Three Floyds “It’s Not Normal” mantra. Dreadnaught marks our third Three Floyds beer; we’ve previously rolled through Black Sun Stout and Blackheart IPA. We grabbed this when we were down in Louisville, and we took it over to record night at our friend Jeffery’s and Tracey’s. My one mission for the evening was to make sure that everyone had to listen to my single of 19 by Paul Hardcastle. Mission accomplished. Yes, I bought it when it came out. And I still have it. It is that awesome.

Dreadnaught pours a lightly hazy copper, although it is almost more gold than copper. The head is thin and white, and the nose is dominated by hoppiness—there are citrus, floral, and grassy aromas—with just a touch of malt in the background. The front opens with a soft malt sweetness that has bits of breadiness and biscuit before moving into the big hoppy middle; there are fruity and citrus hop flavors all over the place as well as some citrus fruitiness before the bitterness starts to kick in. Dreadnaught finishes bitter and sweet—there is a nice lingering bitterness mixed with citrus and light grassy flavors than sit well on the tongue. The body is medium and so is the carbonation; while the beer starts soft, the carbonation picks up in the final third, finishing rather bright and sparkly on the mouth. There is also a fair amount of tongue curling in the back of the mouth from the big bitterness, although the bright citrus does minimize it a bit. The bitterness also helps covers over any potential alcohol warmth; a bit did emerge when the beer got warmer, but even then in very minimal amounts. Overall an excellent and very drinkable Imperial IPA—Dreadnaught is smooth enough that it would be hard to peg it as an Imperial without the prior knowledge. We just wish that Three Floyds would hurry up and get that distribution deal going in Ohio so we could drink their beer all the time.

From the Three Floyds website: “A hophead’s dream beer. This Imperial India Pale Ale has an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Although Dreadnaught is a strong and intensely hoppy ale, its complex flavor is both smooth and memorable.”

ABV: 9.5%
IBU: 99


Friday, February 26, 2010

241. Heinnieweisse Weissebier

“Terrible in a can.”

Brewed by Butternuts Beer & Ale in Garrattsville, NY. Heinnieweisse has a spicy and fruity nose—it smells a bit overripe and perfume-y, but nothing is specifically identifiable, except the low levels of funkiness or mustiness that run along the edges of the beer and the DMS and corn aromas that accompany them. The flavor begins sweet, spicy, and slightly corny with some dry malt flavor—there is none of the fruit of the nose—before moving into some musty flavors in the middle along with a decent dose of unfinished graininess, and finishing with a return of the corn flavors—it ends slightly cider-y. Mouthfeel is dry, but there is almost no carbonation, so the resulting effect is a pronounced flatness; combined with the thin body, there is not a lot to work with here. We’re guessing something went horribly horribly wrong with this beer, as it tastes like some of my personal homebrewing disasters, or the corn beer I made with no barley or wheat malt, but maybe—just maybe—this is what they intended. We’ve got another one in the fridge that I’ll try for comparison’s sake, but as for now, we’ll chock this one up to brewer error, and call this one a Top 10 Worst contender.

From the Butternuts Beer & Ale website: “Traditional Hefeweizen from Germany usually taste like cardboard because by the time you drink them, they’re not fresh anymore. Chuck brews Heinnieweisse with Bavarian yeast and a 67% wheat grist approximately 5000 miles closer to your mouth than Germany giving it a rich, fully fresh palate. Pour it and see the wheat cloudiness, smell the notes of estery aroma. At 4.9 % abv you’ll taste the effervescent, sweet yet tart freshness that no farty old German can boast. And what does an Alien have to do with any of this? Ever notice how a hop looks like an Alien’s head? Look again.”

ABV: 4.9%


P.S. He may be closer, but that ain’t helping. The second one wasn’t any better, and was another dose of pure terribleness...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

240. Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

This is our first beer from Belhaven Brewery Company, located in Dunbar, Scotland. We had this on the nitro tap at South Park Tavern, which was just about the perfect mix of creamy and hoppy. Twisted Thistle is a clear gold color with a creamy thick white head that laces the crap out of the glass—the head is thick enough that it pretty much blocks out most of the aroma of the beer. Flavor starts with cracker and biscuit malt, and moves into bitterness with some low levels of toffee along with more cracker flavors. Twisted Thistle finishes clean with light lager-esque flavors and bitterness—it’s clean, but also simultaneously a bit musty. The body is medium to light with a dry, creamy mouthfeel along with medium carbonation that helps round the beer on the palate. There are some slight fruity notes in the middle on the tongue as it warms, and some slight sourness at the end that comes across as a bit of a tang on the palate. Good beer overall; clean and fresh tasting. Some of the potential sweetness is stripped out by the nitro, but as a bonuse the creaminess does reciprocally get enhanced. Win win are far as we are concerned.

From the Belhaven website: “A stunning India Pale Ale (IPA), don’t think that Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle has anything jaggy, spikey, prickly or otherwise pain-inflicting in its nature. Quite the opposite. Your taste buds will tingle with pleasure after a sip or two of this golden nectar. A real treat from our master brewers in Dunbar.”

ABV: 5.3%


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

239. Upland Helios Pale Ale

Our first beer from Upland Brewing Company, located in Bloomington, IN. Helios pours a pale golden copper with a light white head that quickly dissipates to a ring. The nose is grainy, fruity, and grassy; in addition, we can’t quite determine whether there is a DMS component to the nose, or if it is a skunky lager-like aroma—the bottle is brown, so we’re not sure it is light struck, but something is going on here (we’re gonna go with just not good). Helios starts grainy and corny; the middle brings some bitterness, but not enough to override the graininess of the front. The finish is clean, but there is a re-emphasis on the corny DMS flavors. Helios has a light body, too light for the beer; the mouthfeel is thin and harsh, and the graininess gives it some sharpness that is exacerbated by the carbonation in the second third of the beer. This seems to not quite hit the pale ale category—while we’re guessing they’re going for the light, drinkable version of the pale ale, this one doesn’t quite cut it. While this wouldn’t be egregious if it was served on tap at a brewpub, there was no reason to bottle it and pass it along. We’re giving this one the Top 10 Worst contender nod.

From the Upland website: “This traditional American Pale Ale is a combination of the finest Midwestern malts and American Hops, creating a refreshingly crisp, citrusy, and slightly bitter taste. Named for the Greek sun god, Helios Pale Ale is a great choice for those who like a lot of personality and individuality in their beer. Helios was given its name to reflect Upland’s commitment to environmental sustainability, specifically the installation of ten solar water tube panels on the roof of the brewery, which have dramatically reduced the amount of natural gas used to heat water in the brewhouse.”

ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 21.7


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

238. Bluegrass Brandy Barrel Aged Queen’s Knickers

Another beer from Bluegrass Brewing Company; our last beer was Bluegrass American Pale Ale. We picked up a growler of this from the Party Source in Newport, KY on the way back from Louisville, and held onto it for a couple of days so we could have some friends over to share it. After all, a half gallon of 12.0% Old Ale shared between two people spells a trip to the hurt locker. Sure, we’d have fun drinking it then, but the next morning would spell ugly with like about six us and maybe three or four ls. And besides, this beer is too good to waste as a session beer.

Queen’s Knickers starts with a rich, sweet, floral nose—it smells almost like a mead, and has maple syrup undercurrents running amongst the various aromas. There is also a slight dose of oaky woodiness in the nose. It pours a clear tannish copper color with a creamy ivory head. Q’sK starts soft in flavor on the palate; it is malty sweet with maple syrup flavors in the front before moving into a middle that carries rose and flower petal hints along with oak and vanilla flavors. The beer finishes rather clean with some lingering creamy wood characteristics; it has a medium body and a good bit of creaminess to the mouthfeel. Overall, an excellent and nuanced beer. Flavors are light and well balanced—subtle complexity is the name of the game here. While the nose may be a bit bigger than the body, there is a nice balance between the beer, alcohol, and wood flavors across the profile of the beer—nothing sticks out or is obtrusive, rather a clean balance is created that gives depth and character to the beer. We’d love to get our hands on some more of the Queen’s Knickers, but I’m guessing that’s not happening in the near future. Nonetheless, a treat worth savoring.

There’s nothing about this on the BBC website, and barely anything on Beer Advocate. Why do I feel like I got away with something by scoring a growler of this?

ABV: 12.0%


Monday, February 22, 2010

237. Rogue Dead Guy Ale

And now it’s time for our eleventh beer from Rogue. Yep. Eleventh. Our run down includes Shark Tooth Ale, John John, Mogul Madness, Dirtoir Black Lager, Yellow Snow IPA, Chipotle Ale, First Growth Wet Hop Ale, Juniper Pale Ale, Maierfest and Capt’n Sig’s Northwestern Ale. Oh, and we had this on tap at South Park Tavern.

Served in a pint glass, Dead Guy is a slightly hazy copper with a thin white head that qickly disspates to a ring; the nose is malty and slightly spicy. Flavors begin with a malty and slightly biscuit-y front; the middle dries out and has a fair share of bitterness and general hoppiness, while the finish is characterized mostly by a spicy, lingering bitterness. The hoppiness and bitterness does make Dead Guy taste a bit more like a pale ale rather than the maibock it is. The beer has a soft mouthfeel and medium to low carbonation; as well, this particular keg does taste nice & fresh. The bitterness does cover over some of the bock characteristics that you’d expect to find in a maibock—the light, lager finish and some of the gentle creaminess on the tongue. Nonetheless, Dead Guy is a delicious and eminently drinkable beer, ever if it does stray a bit from the traditional style guidelines for a maibock.

From the Rogue website: “In the style of a German Maibock, using our proprietary Pacman ale yeast. Deep honey in color with a malty aroma and a rich hearty flavor.”

IBU: 40
OG: 16° P
Malts: Northwest Harrington, Klages, Maier Munich, & Carastan
Hops: Perle & Saaz


Sunday, February 21, 2010

236. Lake Placid Ubu Ale

This is our first beer from Lake Placid Craft Brewing, located in Lake Placid, NY. Ubu Ale pours a deep chocolate color with ruby highlights; the head is ivory with some lacing. The nose is a mix of dark malt sweetness and some chocolate accompanied by lower levels of biscuit, toffee, and fruit. Opening with a good dose of maltiness backed by a light, dry chocolate flavor, Ubu moves into dark fruit flavors in the middle with more of the darker malt sweetness before finishing with a low level punch of hop spiciness and bitterness and some lingering chocolate sweetness. The body is medium with some creaminess and a decent carbonation bite. We’re not really sure how to peg this one—it seems a mix between a brown and an ale; the fruitiness (especially as they are dark fruit flavors, more reminiscent of a dopplebock) seems a bit out of place, although not bad. Decently made beer, but not that exciting—it’s drinkable, but it wouldn’t be our first choice.

From the bottle: “The mountain village of Lake Placid was once home to a legendary chocolate lab named Ubu, the biggest dog you’ve ever seen with an uncanny nose for great beer. Deep garnet red in color this English-Style Ale is a tribute to the legend of Ubu. It features a smooth, rich maltiness complemented by just the right amount of hops. Here’s to the legend!”

ABV: 7.0%


Saturday, February 20, 2010

235. Three Floyds Black Sun Stout

Black Sun Stout is our second beer from Three Floyds Brewing Company; the last one was Blackheart IPA. We had this out of the bottle at the Beer Store in Louisville, KY while waiting to have dinner at the Mayan Cafe across the street (which was also totally excellent). Besides an excellent selection of bottled beers, the Beer Store also has several beers on tap; while we browsed their selections earlier in the day, we sampled a glass of Three Floyds Dreadnaught. How’s that for an enjoyable shopping experience?

Black Sun Stout pours a delicious deep and rich black color with a thick rich white head. The nose is mostly coffee accompanied by a light burnt malt aroma. Flavors are dominated by a roasted malt and coffee flavor in the front, leading into a smoother middle with some perceptible hop bitterness, and closing with more of the burnt and roasted notes at the end. Black Sun has a medium body with medium carbonation; the creamy mouthfeel is balanced with bright clean flavors. A delicious beer overall, and one that we look forward to trying again.

From the bottle: “Black Sun Stout has a nose of coffee, roasted malts and piney hops. This medium bodied stout has a broad depth of maltiness and a clean dry finish.”

From the Three Floyds website: “Black Sun has a nose of coffee, roasted malts and piney hops. This medium bodied stout has a broad depth of maltiness and a clean dry finish. December release.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 50

Also, we visited Cumberland Brews earlier in the day, where in addition to lunch we tried their Pale Ale and Runner-Up Ale. The Pale Ale is described as “a copy of our favorite Chico beer,” while Runner-Up Ale is a small beer that was brewed off of the second runnings of their barleywine and fermented with a Belgian yeast. Both were delicious. Too bad there wasn’t more time to indulge our palates with their wide array of beers. There’s always next time...


Friday, February 19, 2010

234. Schafly IPA

This was our first beer from the Saint Louis Brewing Company—the brewery that makes Schafly Beer—which is located in Maplewood, MO. We had this beer in the lobby of the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY. This beer was bottled (with love) on 12/16/2009. We do like the “with love” part.

Schafly Pale Ale has a spicy hop nose that is also a bit resiny; the hop aroma is fresh and bright. There are also lower levels of malt sweetness in the nose to round things out. Color-wise, Schafly is an orange copper with a light white head; it starts with a bready malt flavor and a bit of spiciness. The middle is crisp with resin and spicy hop flavors and also a bit of bitterness before ending with a return of the biscuit and breadiness of the front and a lingering hop bitterness. Schafly Pale Ale has a chewy but bright mouthfeel; the body is medium to light and it has a medium carbonation bite. A clean, rounded, and crisp beer overall—the hop flavor is better than that of the aroma. This beer is totally drinkable; while not spectacular, it has no real faults to it, and is exactly what a regional beer should be. We’re already looking forward to our next trip where we can search out some Schafly APA on tap.

From the Schafly website: “Amber-colored, medium-bodied British-style ale with a smooth, mildly-hoppy character.”

ABV: 4.4%
OG: 11.5
IBU: 27
Calories per 12 oz. bottle: 155


Thursday, February 18, 2010

233. Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout

Beer number four from Dark Horse Brewery; we’ve run through Too Cream Stout, One Oatmeal Stout and Crooked Tree IPA (we skipped the Tres Blueberry Stout as it suited neither of out palates when we tried a sample of it on tap).

Fore Smoke Stout pours a thick dark opaque brown with a creamy brown head; there are a couple of red highlights along the edges of the glass, but there’s not a lot of light getting through this one. The nose is roasty with light burnt and smoked malt aromas; the flavor starts much the same way—big roasted malt front before moving into some sweetness and light burnt notes, and finishing with a bit of smokiness and a combination of lingering roasted and burnt flavors. Fore has a chewy rich mouthfeel and a medium body that is well rounded; the carbonation is rather low—the bite is more from roasted flavors than carbonation. Fore Smoked Stout is not as exciting as the Two Cream Stout, although we had that one on tap and this one out of the bottle. At some point we should probably get a bottle of all four of the Dark Horse stouts and give them all a thorough going over...

From the Dark Horse website: “Number Four - Brewed with all malted barley and peat malt (smoked malt). This beer is full bodied with chocolate, roasted barley flavors, and a smokey almost BBQ finish.”

And who exactly is drawing these labels? Dark Horse is certainly going low-tech.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

232. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

“Rocky Mountain Pale Ale”

Our first beer from Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, CO. Beginning with a bready and caramel malt nose mixed with a generic hop spiciness, Dale’s Pale Ale pours a hazy copper with a tan creamy head. The flavor starts bready, followed by caramel malt sweetness before moving into a spicy bitterness with a bit of pine flavor in the middle, and finishes a bit harsh with more bitterness from the hops. The carbonation is rather light, and the body is medium and creamy with some hop astringency curling the back of the tongue. Dale’s is about as straight forward of a pale ale as you can get; it is very drinkable, but not that complex in either the malt or hop profile. Coming as it does in a can, Dale’s is an excellent option for whenever bottles would not be feasible. Rock that can.

From the Oskar Blues website: “America’s first hand-canned craft beer is a voluminously hopped mutha that delivers a hoppy nose, assertive-but-balanced flavors of pale malts and hops from start to finish. First canned in 2002, Dale’s Pale Ale is a hearty (6.5% and 65 IBUs), critically acclaimed trailblazer that has changed the way craft beer fiends perceive canned beer.”

ABV 6.5%
IBU: 65


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

231. The Lost Abbey Carnevale Ale

Our second beer from Lost Abbey—our last one was Avant Garde Ale, which was yummy. We had this with our friend Jeff, who brought along a De Dolle Oerbier as a comparison.

Carnevale has a floral hop nose mixed with some malt sweetness; the color is clear straw with a thin white head. Starting with a soft, rounded malt sweetness, Carnevale moves into a small amount of bitterness in the middle, accompanied by low levels of spice esters, and finishes clean with some lingering bitterness. Light bodied with a dry, clean mouthfeel, and some creaminess in the transition between the middle and end on the top of the mouth. The slightly silky texture makes us wonder if there is some wheat hidden in the beer somewhere. The second half of the bottle had a bit more of a saison character with the addition of the lees, and also more overall character; the first half did taste much more like a blonde ale. Enjoyable but not as exciting as we hoped; Jeff called it “a pseudo-Belgian quaffer.” A very light, clean, and drinkable beer, although we were hoping for a bit more character across the beer.

Carnevale is also our first official Buddy-approved beer—rather than turn up his nose, he actually gave the glass a lick and seemed excited. First time I’ve ever seen him express interest in beer ever.

From the bottle: “For centuries Venetians lightened the dark of winter with an elaborate upending of social order. In donning a disguise for Carnevale, for one night a pauper could become a prince, a learned man a fool, a proper lady a passionate lover...and no one would be the wiser. This beer is our tribute to that grand celebration of the unexpected. A Saison-style blonde ale with American hops and...well, that’s all you really need to know. Now put on your mask, raise your glass, and toast to the magic of a winter’s night mystery. Lo Carnevale!”

From the Lost Abbey website: “Carnevale is a dry hopped saison ale sporting a hazy yellow color and moderately spicy nose with hints of oranges and tangerines from Amarillo and Simcoe hops. The yeast phenols add layers of clove and allspice. The beer is designed to be a lighter body ale with some malted oats and wheat components and dry hopped with Amarillo to emphasize the bright citric qualities.”

ABV: 6.5%
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.012

We also tried De Dolle Oerbier, our third beer from De Dolle (Oerbier Special Reserva and Stille Nacht 2008 were the last two). The nose is rich, sweet spicy, and fruity—there are currant, raisin, plum aromas; it is a copper color with orange highlights, and has a creamy tan head. Oerbier starts rich and fruity; there are some plum and raisin, but they dry out rather quickly. There is also some dry biscuit malt in the front; it levels out as it moves to the middle, and the end has a return of some of the initial sweetness and some rich sherry-like fruit flavors. Oerbier is medium bodied, rich and chewy; the nose is stunningly delicious, and the rest of the beer is quite good as well.

From the De Dolle website: “Oerbier means original, from the source. This beer has been brewed in small scale (5 gallons) at home in a copper wash kettle, by two brothers who were students at the time. They took over an old brewery which was out of business and said: "If we don't bring the brewery back to life, nobody will!". It was also a unique opportunity to create some interesting brews, so why not try it? Therefore we went ahead. We did the main work ourselves and kept the scale of the brewery as it was. Since then, the brewery and its beers have been an inspiration for a lot of brewers. Oerbier is brewed from all different malts, Poperinge Golding hops in flowers and a special yeast which makes it a little tart, especially with aging. At the brewery we have excellent cellars which have a constant temperature of 8°C allowing Oerbier to age at its best. After a couple of years Oerbier tastes like it has been blended with wine… Oerbier has been refermented in the bottle and contains a layer of yeast, having vitamins B. NAT en STRAF on the glasses means WET and STRONG, a warning for the 9 vol. alcohol content. The little person on the glasses is the Oerbier man, a simple creature who holds a brewers fork in his right hand, symbolizing the work and science, but looking to the other side, the result of all this, the glass of (Oer)beer. The artwork on the poster is a wallpainting found in Spain (Altamira) and is considered by art lovers as being the best prehistoric art work (30.000 years BC). On the other hand we have Oerbier started in 1980, continuing the tradition. Since 2000 as the yeast supply ceased, we installed a new yeast propagator. The tart aftertaste is obtained by lactobacterial fermentation (since 2005).”

ABV: 9.0%


Monday, February 15, 2010

230. Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale

Beer number three from Tröegs Brewing Company; most recently we had JavaHead Stout, and a very long time ago we had Nugget Nectar. We had this on tap at South Park Tavern, which I’m sure will shock no one who is reading this post. The keg this beer came out of was very fresh tasting and super yummy.

HopBack was a crystal clear deep copper color with a minimal white head; the nose had a light hop spiciness and some dry biscuit malt aromas. Starting dry and clean, HopBack quickly moves into some hop spiciness. There are some underlying biscuit and caramel flavors from the malt in the front; the middle has some hop bitterness along with spicy hop flavor and low levels of grassiness. HopBack ends with lingering hop resin and spicy flavors. While there is not a lot of malt presence across the profile, there is easily enough of a malt backbone to carry the hops. Medium to light bodied with a decent carbonation bite, HopBack’s mouthfeel builds and accentuates the flavors found in the body. A good, fresh tasting beer overall—there is a lot of hop flavor without a lot of hop bitterness, and the body to back up the hop profile. A solid and enjoyable beer across the board.

From the Tröegs website: “Tröegs Brewery’s Flagship beer, HopBack Amber Ale derives its name from a vessel in the brewhouse called a hopback. As the ‘wort’ is being transferred from the brewhouse to fermentation it passes through the hopback vessel. Packed full of fresh whole flower hops, the wort slowly circulates through this vessel extracting the essence of the aromatic hops. This vessel adds more time and more hop character that creates a fresh, spicy taste and rich caramel note that defines this signature ale.”

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 55
Malts: Pilsner & Munich
Hops: Cascade, Williamette, & Nugget
Hop Back Hops: Whole Leaf Nugget & Mt Hood


Sunday, February 14, 2010

229. Ommegang Hennepin

Our third beer from Ommegang; our last two were their Bière de Mars and their Witte. Described as a Farmhouse Saison, Hennepin pours a hazy straw color with a white pillowy head that hangs around well; the nose is fruity with low levels of banana esters and some creaminess—there’s a little bit of banana cream pie that comes through. Hennepin starts with a sweet maltiness accompanied by the creamy banana we smelt in the nose. From there, it moves into a spritzy spiciness with some tartness in the middle, and ends with low levels of hop bitterness, some light clove flavors, and some fruit esters—a very Belgian ending. Light bodied with a light creamy mouthfeel, and bright and lively on the palate. With some warmth, the tartness increases, and a graininess emerges as well, while the creaminess drops off. Hennepin is an enjoyable and well balanced beer; as a saison, it could use a bit dryer of a bite at the end, and the hoppy description from the bottle never really made an appearance. Head retention is fantastic, though—I had the same size head from beginning to end.

From the bottle (note: obnoxious prose warning): “Father Hennepin was the Belgian missionary who discovered Niagara Falls. Our Hennepin is a rare Saison Farmhouse Ale—pale, hoppy, crisp, and rustic—and like Tintin, Magritte, and Audrey Hepbrun, Hennepin is famous, but not for being Belgian!” Ahem. Discovered. Good job. Never mind those Indians living there for thousands of years. Got to love the rhetoric of colonialism.

From the Ommegang website: “As you pour this rich golden ale into your glass, consider your surroundings. Are you in a restaurant? Outside on the deck? Is it hot and humid? Cold and brisk? Take a drink. Feel the way Hennepin is bright and lively in your mouth with a warming mix of spicy gingersnap and citrusy hops. Refreshing. Relaxing. It’s true: no matter where you are, Hennepin is the perfect ale for all seasons.”

ABV: 7.7%


Saturday, February 13, 2010

228. The Bruery Hottenroth

From the bottle: “Sour = Yum!”

This is our third from the Bruery; we’ve previously sampled Orchard White and Saison Rue. Hottenroth is a pale clear straw color that closely resembles champagne, although the second half of the bottle was a lightly cloudy. There is a quickly dissipating white head, but the carbonation is remains bright and lively in the glass. The nose is a mix of citric tartness (almost lemony), graininess, and some sourness. Hottenroth starts with a light amount of grainy wheat sourness before the tartness takes over; the tartness continues to rise through the middle along with some sourness, giving way to a yeasty grainy wheat flavor. It closes with a return of some of the tartness, although the graininess lingers. Hottenroth has an extremely light body; the mouthfeel is sharp and bright with a decent amount of carbonation and lactic tang, leaving the mouth dry. Crisp, refreshing, and very drinkable—we could drink this all day long, which is most certainly the idea with the style.

Such a lovely April Fool’s joke...

From the bottle: “Brewed in memory of Fred & Sarah Hottenroth, this traditional ale can be served with raspberry or woodruff syrup, or simply enjoyed as is! Our Berliner Weisse is suitable for aging up to year when cellared properly. Best stored and cellared around 55° F (13° C) in a dark place. Ideal serving temperature is 45° F (7° C). Please pour carefully, leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bottle. Best enjoyed in a wide rimmed chalice or a tulip.”

From the Bruery website: “Hottenroth Berliner Weisse is brewed in memory of Fred and Sarah Hottenroth, Patrick’s grandparents. This tart German-style Berliner Weisse is as authentic as it gets. We used lactobacillus and a hint of brettanomyces to sour this very unusual, low gravity wheat beer. To cut the tartness for those with sweeter tastes, raspberry or woodruff syrup is a traditional way to sweeten the beer. Almost an extinct style, we hope to help revive the Berliner Weisse in memory of two great people.”

ABV: 3.1%
IBU: 2


Friday, February 12, 2010

227. Goose Island Honker’s Ale

Our first beer from Goose Island in Chicago, IL. Honker’s Ale has a bready and lightly roasty nose; the color is a dull copper with a light white head that quickly reduces to a ring, but laces the glass quite nicely. Opening with a bready and slightly toasted malt profile, Honker’s Ale moves into a rounded malt middle with low levels of bitterness peeking through. The finish is soft and malty and is reached through a light carbonation bite in the second third of the beer, and there is a bit of lingering bitterness. The body is light to medium with a bit of dryness that strikes the palate as a bit flat. A well crafted beer, but not terribly exciting, although very drinkable.

From the bottle: “Inspired by visits to English country pubs, Honker’s is the perfect blend of hops and malt. A smooth, drinkable English-style Bitter for drinkers who want more from their beer.”

From the Goose Island website: “Inspired by visits to English country pubs, Honker’s Ale combines a fruity hop aroma with a rich malt middle to create a perfectly balanced beer. Immensely drinkable, Honker’s Ale is not only the beer you can trust but one you’ll look forward to time and again.”

ABV: 4.2%
IBU: 30
Malts: 2-row, Caramel, Wheat, & Roasted Barley
Hops: Styrian Golding


Thursday, February 11, 2010

226. New Belgium Le Fleur, Misseur?

New Belgium is in the house yet again, and going down smooth-tastically. This makes six: we’ve had Transatlantique Kriek, Biere de Mars, Fat Tire, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale and La Folie. Like TK, BdM, and La Folie, Le Fleur Misseur? is part of the Lips of Faith series. So yummy. Our friend Jeff came over and brought the two other beers we tried, so we had something of a small tasting of Belgian Pale Ales.

Le Fleur, Misseur? is a ridiculously pale clear straw color with a light white head that dissipates quickly. The nose is floral and funky, and pretty clean. Starting lightly sweet with some brettanomyces funk flavors, Le Fleur moves into a crisp dry middle with light fruit and floral notes, finishing with a touch of sweetness that is swallowed by the dryness—the dryness at the end almost sucks away the previous flavors to end rather clean. Le Fleur is light bodied and crisp, and also very dry—the beer is well attenuated and very light colored for being 6.2% ABV. The carbonation level is pretty low, but works well with the beer. A delicious beer—light and crisp, enjoyable and well balanced. Also a deceptively simple beer, but we’re guessing not so simple to make—the combination of Belgian Pale Ale and brettanomyces funk makes for a interesting beer we’ll be drinking again as soon as we can find some more of it.

From the New Belgium website: “Deep burnished gold with a slight haze, Le Fleur Misseur opens with pineapple, clove and honey notes. Dry-hopping produces a flower leaf aroma supported by tones of fresh bread and honey. Bottle conditioned with our special house strain of Brettanomyces (wild ale) yeast, Le Fleur finishes dry and slightly herbal. Produced for New Belgium coworkers to celebrate our 15th anniversary, Le Fleur has roots in the earliest days of our history. In 1988 founder Jeff Lebesch sat weary on the side of a Belgian road when a young lad passing by picked a delicate yellow flower and offered it to Jeff. ‘Le Fleur, Misseur?’ Jeff misspelled the boy’s comment in his journal as he accepted the offering. A treasured memory, a beer to treasure.”

ABV: 6.2%

We tried Orval Trappist Ale as a comparison; Orval had a bit more citric bite, and more carbonation, but we can see the similarities between the two—there is a similar dry sweetness and color to both.

ABV: 6.9%

Finally, we also tried La Trappe Isid’or Trappist, which has a much more malty body with dark fruit and caramel; while it was a delicious beer, it is not quite in the same family as the last two—bigger and chewier.

ABV: 7.5%


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

225. Cuvée De Ranke

Brewed and bottled by Brouwerij De Ranke in Wevelgem, Belgium. Cuvée De Ranke is a Belgian Sour Ale with Lambic added (it is also listed as a saison on at least one site); it’s a 70/30 blend of a sour ale made with Rodenbach yeast and a Giardin lambic. The nose is a crisp, sharp tart citric acid smell with lower levels of vinegar sourness and some slight funkiness; the color is a hazy gold with light white carbonation that quickly reduces to a ring around the glass. Starting with a tart citric bite that rolls across the tongue, Cuvée De Ranke moves into a slight chalkiness in the middle with an underlying malt character and some low levels of funkiness before finishing with a returning rise of citric tartness that leads into some sourness that lingers on the palate. Light bodied and bright and clean on the mouth, Cuvée De Ranke has a decent carbonation bite that contributes to the light mouthfeel. This one also has a whole lot of tartness and tongue curling, mostly from the sour aspects, and is very dry and sharp in part via the high level of attenuation. In addition, it is a light and refreshing beer, and very enjoyable—the 7% ABV could very easily sneak up and bite you on the ass with this one—well, if you like tart beers and consider them easy drinking. Cuvée De Ranke is an excellent beer; we’re making it a Top 10 Best contender.

From the paper wrapper: “The De Ranke Brewery was founded by two good friends, Nino Bacelle and Guido Devos. Their story is a classic in Belgium, where the very best craft brewing usually begins as a passionately pursued hobby, not an occupation. For Nino and Guido, brewing is literally a weekend obsession. For a few hours on Friday and Saturday, every week, they make small batches of what many consider the best specialty beers of Belgium. The beers are robust and flavorful, and famous for their massive hoppiness, which comes from the best Hallertau and Brewer’s Gold varieties.”

From the De Ranke website: “Cuvée is an ale of mixed origin like many Belgian breweries used to make. The production process is nearly the same as for the Kriek, the difference being that no cherries are added. It’s a naturally acidified ale in which we try to reach the perfect balance between sweet and sour. This amber-coloured ale contains 7% vol. Alc. and can age really nice.”

ABV: 7%
Best before: 04/2013