Wednesday, December 11, 2013
New Belgium Brewing recently released a couple of new beers in their Lips of Faith series, and today I picked them up to check them out. The first one is called New Belgium Cigar City Collaboration, which somewhat shockingly was brewed in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing Company. It is a Chile Beer with 8.5% Alcohol By Volume, and it utilizes Marash and Anaheim peppers and is aged on Spanish cedar.
New Belgium Cigar City Collaboration is a crystal clear, amber colored beer, sporting a large cream colored head. A layer of lacing remains behind after each sip.
The nose has some pale malts, but is mainly focused on a fresh hop burst, both fruity pacific and citrus west coast varieties.
The hops are a bit more subdued in the taste than they were in the scent, with grassy, citrus and hints of fruity varieties. Pale malts underlie, with subtle woody notes, and a bit of pepper heat in the finish. The mouth is medium bodied and actively carbonated.
Overall, I like the idea behind New Belgium Cigar City Collaboration, but the execution could be tweaked in a couple of respects. The hops are fragrant in the nose, but on the tongue they could use a boost, and the pepper spice is pretty subtle, and could use a bit of a boost. The cedar influence is faint, which is fine, but many people will probably miss it. Overall there's a great beer in the making, it just needs some rewiring.
New Belgium Cigar City Collaboration : B-
New Belgium Cigar City Collaboration Specs
Hops: Target, Centennial, Cascade, Pacific Jade, Wakatu, Simcoe
Malts: Pale, Carastan
Yeast: Biere de Garde
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The full name of tonight's beer is Rise of the Burghers and the fall of the feudal lords, which is a Herbed Beer with an unlisted ABV from Minnesota's Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company. Their website states:
Rise of the Burghers was inspired by the little-talked-about era of brewing dominated by german Burgher brewers between 800 and 1300 AD. This era of sea trade via the free towns of the Hanseatic Trading League brought about a revolution in brewing throughout northern Europe. Increased production scale, technological advancement, and access to a steady supply of materials from throughout the trade network created a new era of commercial brewing that would change both the ale and the trade for generations.Olvalde Rise of the Burghers is a moderately hazy, deep amber colored beer, topped off by a small, cream colored head. Lacing remains behind in scattered bits here and there.
The nose has quite a bit of an herbal influence, with underlying sweet pale and caramel malts.
The herbs are even more lively in the taste, providing spicy, earthy and leafy aspects, with sweet malts providing a nice foundation. The mouth is medium bodied and evenly carbonated.
There aren't many beers around these days like Olvalde Rise of the Burghers, so it is worth checking out for its uniqueness alone, but it is also a very tasty and interesting beer. There are just a bit of hops in the recipe, which prevents it from being a pure Gruit (beer brewed without hops and using herbs as bittering agents), but Rise of the Burghers provides a nice example of what beers were like before hops were adopted as the mainstream bittering and preservation agent.
Olvalde Rise of the Burghers : A-
Friday, December 6, 2013
Deschutes The Abyss is one of the most sought after limited release beers that are available in my area, and I wasn't planning on finding any this year, but tonight I was in a liquor store that isn't particularly craft-centric and they had some. Zoink! The Abyss is an American Imperial Stout with 11% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). I put it in the fridge for about an hour but that is as long as I am going to last without cutting the wax on this beaut.
11% of The Abyss is aged in oak wine barrels, 11% is aged in oak barrels and 6% is aged in oak bourbon barrels.
Deschutes The Abyss is a pitch black colored beer, with no light able to penetrate at any point when held up to a source. A medium sized, dark brown head floats atop, leaving a solid sheet of lacing behind as the beer is consumed.
The nose has black and chocolate malts, some roasted, darker fruits, oaky notes, hints of bourbon, with some citrusy hops lingering in the background.
Complexity reigns supreme in the taste, with the taste evolving as it rolls over the tongue. Starting with black and chocolate malts, with a complementary roast, molasses, lots of darker fruit notes, cherries, plums, oak and bourbon, hints of vanilla, red wine, black licorice, with bright grapefruit notes in the hop finish. Alcohol provides a bit of spice but is blended well. The mouth is full bodied and smoothly carbonated.
I have had a number of vintages of Deschutes The Abyss, both aged and fresh, and it never fails to impress. It is one of those beers that I would brush my teeth with if my dentist and financial situation would allow me to do so. Any time you come across The Abyss, buy some.
Deschutes The Abyss : A+
Deschutes The Abyss Specs
Thursday, December 5, 2013
The other night I had my first look at a beer from Bad Weather Brewery, a new local brewery here in the Twin Cities. Tonight I will check out a limited release beer from them called Bad Weather Schoko-Weizen. Schoko-Weizen is a Dunkelweizen with 7% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), and is the first beer in the Storm Cellar Series of limited edition beers.
Bad Weather Schoko-Weizen is a dark brown beer, glowing a cloudy mahogany when held up to a light. A very large, khaki colored head floats atop, with plenty of sticky lacing remaining behind.
Cacao nibs are pretty prominent in the nose, with wheat grain and continental malts as well.
Wheat grains and Munich malts start off the taste, Hefe characteristics of banana and clove, lingering darker fruits in the background, with some underlying chocolate as well. The mouth is fairly full and smoothly carbonated.
It is nice to see a bit of a unique spin on a style that you don't run into every day, but Bad Weather Schoko-Weizen lacks a bit of the wow factor that you would expect from a waxed bottle of beer. Overall pretty good though, and I am interested to see what the future holds in store for the Storm Cellar Series from Bad Weather Brewing.
Bad Weather Schoko-Weizen : B
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I few weeks ago I picked up my first six pack from Bad Weather Brewery, a new local brewery here in Minnesota. Well, to "celebrate" the first snowfall of the year that looks like it will stick around, I will review Bad Weather Firefly, which is a Rye Beer with 5.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).
Bad Weather Firefly is a golden colored beer, mildly hazy, with a small, bubbly white head floating atop. A web of lacing is left behind on the glass as the beer is consumed.
The nose has spicy rye and pale malts on one hand, and hops on the other, floral, citrus and tropical fruit notes.
Pale malts start off the taste, a bit of grain, accented with some spicy rye, hints of lighter fruit notes in the transition, with the hop finish starting floral, citrus, lemony, fruity, with some herbal and spicy notes closing it out. The mouth is medium bodied and moderately carbonated.
I was quite impressed with Bad Weather Firefly when I first tried it, and I meant to follow up with some of their other offerings, but haven't gotten around to that yet. Now that I am reminded how flavorful and well-crafted Firefly is, it shouldn't take me long to get inspired to check out the rest of their beers. It sports a nice mixture of pacific and American hops, and the underlying barley and rye provide a nice backbone. Worth checking out for local readers in the Twin Cities.
Bad Weather Firefly : B+
Monday, December 2, 2013
Tonight I will be checking out a beer that I haven't tried before from New Holland Brewing Company called New Holland El Mole Ocho. El Mole Ocho is a Chile beer with 10.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), and it is released annually in October.
New Holland El Mole Ocho is a mahogany colored beer, glowing a clear, ruby red when held up to a light. A small tan head briefly tops it off before crackling away, and the lacing is minimal.
The nose has roasted coffee, cacao nibs, peppers, along with some underlying caramel malts.
Continental malts start things off in the taste, complemented with caramel, coffee, with a pepper spice cutting across the middle, darker fruity esters, coriander and other spice, including a bit of warming alcohol. The mouth is medium bodied and moderately carbonated.
New Holland El Mole Ocho is a pretty complex beer, but I am not sure everything is working together in harmony. Each sip provides a different element of the taste a time to shine, and overall it is pretty tasty, but I doubt El Mole Ocho is for everyone.
New Holland El Mole Ocho : B
New Holland El Mole Ocho Specs
Gravity: 22 Plato
Malts: 2 row, Munich, Caramel, Chocolate
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
There are a lot of fresh hop American IPAs that show up during the fall harvest each year, and Deschutes' version weighs in with 7.4% Alcohol By Volume and goes by the name of Deschutes Chasin' Freshies.
Deschutes Chasin' Freshies is a pale golden colored beer, mostly clear with a lot of very fine particulate matter providing just a bit of haze. A voluminous, bubbly white head tops it off, leaving behind quite a bit of lacing.
The nose has some pils malts, but is mainly focused on a bright citrusy and lemony hop, accented with floral notes.
Pilsner malts start off the taste, but again the focus is on the hops. Starting grassy and floral, moving through citrus and tropical fruit and winding up lightly spicy. The mouth is a touch fuller than medium bodied and fairly evenly carbonated.
This year's version of Deschutes Chasin' Freshies is a nice showcase of Amarillo hops, and they are on full display. The beer takes a minimalist approach, allowing the fresh hops to shine through. I had a bottle of this right when it came out, and despite it being at least a month since it first hit shelves, it is still very tasty.
Deschutes Chasin' Freshies : A-
Deschutes Chasin' Freshies Specs
Hops: Bravo, Fresh Amarillo
Malts: Pilsner, Flaked Oats
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
There are two new beers in this year's edition of the Winter Favorites sample pack from Boston Brewing Company (the other being Samuel Adams Juniper IPA). This one is a Bock with 5.8% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) called Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock.
Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock is a very dark brown into black colored beer, shining a bright ruby red when held up to a light. A small, khaki colored head floats atop, leaving behind a fair amount of lacing.
The nose features a robust cherry presentation, tart and sweet, with underlying caramel and continental malts.
A nice caramel malt starts things off, accented with Munich malts, with the cherries not as prominent in the taste as they were in the scent, but still taking a prominent role. Just a tiny hint of spicy hop lingers in the finish. Cocoa nibs add a bit of complexity to the malt profile. The mouth is medium bodied and with a fair amount of carbonation.
Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock is probably my favorite offering in this year's variety pack, as it is nicely balanced and full of flavor, yet remains quite drinkable. There used to be a yearly fruit beer that was included in their winter pack that I couldn't stand, but if Cherry Chocolate Bock becomes a yearly player there wouldn't be any objection from me.
Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock : B+
Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock Specs
Hops: Tettnang, Spalt
Malts: 2-Row, Caramel 60, Munich 10
This year in the 2013 winter seasonal variety pack from Boston Brewing Company there are 4 beers from past editions (Boston Lager, White Christmas, Winter Lager and Old Fezziwig Ale) and two new beers. The first one I will review is an American IPA with 5.8% ABV called Samuel Adams Juniper IPA.
Samuel Adams Juniper IPA is a clear, deep amber colored beer, sporting a small but durable off-white head. Nice lacing adorns the glass.
The nose has a solid pale malt foundation, accented with hints of honey, with juniper berries subtlety accenting grapefruit notes from the hops.
The juniper berries pick up just a bit of strength in the taste, but remain a supporting player behind the malt foundation and the hops, which have both grapefruit and earthy elements. Dabs of honey augment the malt profile. The mouth is medium bodied and highly carbonated.
Overall, Samuel Adams Juniper IPA is a pretty decent beer, but I wish the juniper berries were highlighted a bit more. As is, it is a fairly standard IPA accented with an interesting ingredient. Worth checking out as part of the sample pack, but probably not worth a buy if it were sold alone.
Samuel Adams Juniper IPA : B-
Samuel Adams Juniper IPA Specs
Hops: Columbus, Ahtanum
Malts: 2-Row, Honey Malt
Thursday, November 21, 2013
As an extra in my trade for DFH American Beauty, I received a pretty interesting looking beer called DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus. Sweet Baby Jesus is an American Porter with 6.5% Alcohol By Volume, and DuClaw refers to it as a "chocolate peanut butter porter." This will be my first experience with DuClaw Brewing Company, which is located in Maryland.
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus is a black bodied beer, with a dim mahogany glow penetrating when held up to a light. A small khaki colored head tops it off briefly, with scattered bits of lacing here and there on the glass.
The nose has a lot of peanut butter and chocolate malt, some caramel, with hints of darker fruits in the background.
Caramel and chocolate start off the taste, salted peanuts, darker fruity esters, with earthy hops rounding it out. The mouth is medium bodied and evenly carbonated.
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus is certainly a unique beer, and is worth checking out for that reason alone, but it is also pretty tasty and a nice twist on the classic Porter style. It's probably not a beer I would want to house a bunch of over the course of a night, but one bottle hits the spot.
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus : B
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus Specs
Gravity: 16 Plato
Malts: Pale, Chocolate, Crystal, Black, Brown, Roasted Barley
Hops: Fuggle, Goldings