March 10, 2010
As I have said before, Dogfish Head is one of my favorite brewers. I cannot say that I love all of their beers. Some, like the Midas Touch, I find to be nearly undrinkable. What I love about Dogfish Head is that when they miss, they miss because they are swinging for the fences. I have never tried one of their beers and thought it was too bland, or just a little bit off, or not quite right. Dogfish Head Beers are either home runs or strikeouts. Their beers are not for the faint hearted. At times, like with the aforementioned Midas Touch, Dogfish Head pushes the boundary of what can be called beer. And when Dogfish beers are good, they are really good.
Case in point is the 90 Minute IPA. The 90 minutes in the moniker refers to the amount of time this beer is continuously hopped. Dogfish Head also makes a 60 Minute IPA and a 120 Minute IPA. There is also a 75 Minute IPA that is a blend of the 60 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA, and which is only available on tap. (CORRECTION: I have been advised that the 75 Minute IPA is served on cask and has some maple syrup added.)
The 90 Minute IPA is often referred to as an Imperial IPA, but it is unlike any other Imperial IPA I have come across. It is not nearly as hoppy and is much maltier than the standard Imperial IPAs. There was not much head on the pour, but that slight head lasted to the bottom of the glass. The 9% ABV is very noticeable but is not harsh. If anything, the high alcohol taste balances the maltiness nicely and helps to highlight the spiciness of the hops. The beer is remarkably smooth with low carbonation and a velvety texture. I enjoyed the hell out of this beer, and give it a 9/10.
March 8, 2010
There are very few breweries that are as consistently good as Sierra Nevada. I have had most of their beers, and the worst one was still pretty damn good. Sierra Nevada is one of my ‘go-to’ brewers, along with Dogfish Head and Victory.
The Torpedo IPA is a recent edition to the Sierra Nevada lineup, and it is a great one. Intensely hoppy, with powerful pine, citrus and herbal aromas, this beer is easy to drink, and easy to drink quite a few of them, which is a bit dangerous as it clocks in at 7.2% ABV. It pours a dark copper color and keeps a nice head to the bottom of the glass. This is a top notch beer and earns a 8.5/10.
The Sierra Nevada Porter is deep brown in color with a creamy head, but is surprisingly mild flavored. Not much in the way of hops bitterness, it has a slight nutty caramel flavor behind the maltiness. This is not as good as the Torpedo, but it earns a very respectable 7/10.
The Glissade Golden Bock is Sierra Nevada’s spring beer. It poured a crystal clear pale gold with a snow white head that faded quickly. The Golden Bock barely had any hops, and had a slightly sweet malt flavor. It is probably my least favorite of their beers, but it was far from bad. I give it a 5.5/10.
The final beer to be graded is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Pale ales are the redheaded step children of the beer world. Beer snobs tend to dismiss them because they lack the punch of IPAs and other ‘bigger’ beers, and macro-beer drinkers (god help them!) who try them quickly revert back to their bud swilling ways. I fall in the beer snob category, but not when it comes to this beer. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is a winner. It is complex, fragrant, and has a helluva lot more “drinkability” than that damned Bud Light. This one gets a 8.5/10.
March 7, 2010
Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company’ beers usually get great reviews, and they are not widely available in the Northeast, so when I saw some of their beers when I was visiting my sister and her family in Texas, I jumped on the opportunity to try as many as I could. The Long Strange Tripel is part of their SmokeHouse Series of limited edition beers. It is a dead certainty that one of the brewers is a Deadhead, and as you have probably guessed, this beer is a Belgian Tripel. Not being well versed in Belgian beers, I do not know if it is a faithful representation of the style. I do know that it was pale gold and cloudy, with a gorgeous foamy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass. The beer had a sweet and fruity aroma, mostly banana and apple. It had a pleasant malt and yeast flavor, with almost no hops bitterness. I generally like my beers hoppy, but this was an exception to that rule. The Long Strange Tripel grades out at a 7/10, and I have some other Boulevard beers coming up to be graded.
March 1, 2010
I am old, certainly old enough to remember the bad days in the long, long ago time before thousands of craft brewers bloomed across the land. I remember when Heineken and Becks were thought to be good beers because they were imported and those Dutch and Germans knew how to make beer. Hell, I remember when Tuborg was a good beer. Tuborg, for God’s sake!
The only lights in those dark days were Bass Ale and Guinness Stout. Both were widely available, albeit always tucked in the back of the fridge at the liquor store. There was an advantage to buying either Guinness or Bass Ale when you were underage. You were never asked for ID. It was just assumed that if you were drinking Bass or Guinness, you were old enough to drink.
I had not had a Bass Ale or a Guinness Stout in years. There have been so many new and interesting beers, I had kind of forgotten about those two, but I was in a small store near a train station and wanted to grab some beer for the night, and it was either Bass and Guinness or a couple of bomber bottles of Corona.
The Bass Ale poured a clear amber with a mild hops and malt aroma. It had a nice head and was a pleasant drink. I have grown accustomed to IPAs and Imperial IPAs punching me in the mouth with hoppy bitterness, but that was certainly not the case with Bass Ale. It was less hoppy than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but had a similar taste. I think the only problem was that the bottle had probably sat unsold for ages, so it may have been mildly skunked, but it was not awful at all. I give it a solid 6/10. Fun Historical Fact About Bass: The Red Triangle was the first registered trademark.
Being of proud Irish descent, Guinness was my drink of choice in my late teenage years. It had the reputation of being a strong beer, being black and flavorful, and I cannot tell you how many people told me that Guinness was made by “scraping the bottom of the barrel” of regular beer. Total nonsense, of course, as was the belief that Guinness had more alcohol than most beers. The Stout poured as dark as I remember it being, and I immediately noticed the aroma of toasted barley. It had a milder flavor than I remember it having, though as noted with the Bass, I have become accustomed to craft beers, and it has been years since I have had a stout that was not advertised as a chocolate stout or a coffee stout or a chocolate-coffee-mocha stout. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Guinness in years, and it has earned a spot back in my regular rotation. 7.5/10.
February 26, 2010
Who or what is Krampus? I like to think of myself as an educated and cultured man, but I had never heard of Krampus until I picked up a bottle of this beer. It turns out that Krampus is the doppelganger (please imagine the umlaut is in there) of St. Nicholas. While St. Nicholas is handing out gifts to the good boys and girls, Krampus is handing out beatings to the naughty. That is my kind of guy! Not only is drinking beer fun, it is educational too!
This is the second Southern Tier beer I have reviewed, and there is a reason for that. These guys are good, and their beers are usually top notch. Even when they miss, and some of their beers are not all that great, they miss because they are swinging for the fences. Who dares, Wins. That is true of the SAS, and it is true of brewers as well.
The Krampus Imperial Helles Lager is a winner. It is Southern Tier’s Christmas Beer, so there may be a few bottles lingering on the shelves of your local beer emporium. If you see it, grab it, because you will enjoy it. The beer pours a crystal clear amber color, with a nice head, which leaves belgian lace to the bottom of the glass. It has a nice hoppy aroma, which carries over to the taste, balanced by a sweet and spicy malt flavor. 9% ABV. Good stuff. 7.5/10.
February 25, 2010
Brooklyn Brewing Company is another of my favorite breweries. They are not as experimental as Dogfish Head, for example, but they are a still damn fine brewery. Their beers tend to be in traditional styles, and do not stray too far from the tried and true. Brooklyn just does a damn fine job brewing those traditional styles, with a few misses here and there.
This is one of those misses. I will eventually review some of their better beers, but first up is the Brooklyn Winter Lager, which is a bit of a disappointment. I like my Christmas Ales to be full bodied, robust, and spicy, bringing to mind visions of sitting by a coal fire in a Dickensian Pub, and this beer doesn’t quite cut it. It is a malty Scottish style ale, which is admittedly not my favorite type of beer. In fairness, it is a decent enough example of a Scottish Ale, just not what I expect when the word “winter” is part of the packaging. It is not a bad beer by any stretch. I just expect more from Brooklyn Brewing. I will give it a 5.5/10
February 21, 2010
Ommegang is a New York brewer specializing in Belgian style beers. I am far from an expert on Belgian beers, but I know enough to know that the two beers sampled here are not all that great.
First up is the Hennepin which is a saison style ale. The Saisons that I have had are fresh and bright and have strong yeast flavor. Maybe because they are often called ‘farmhouse’ ales, I usually find some herbal notes in the palate. Not with this one. The Hennepin was thin and weak tasting. It did have a nice foamy head, but there was not much else going on with this beer. I will give it a 4.5/10, and I am being generous with that.
The next beer was the Abbey Ale. This poured a deep ruby color, and had a nice head. It had some spice notes in the aroma, and had a malty flavor. It was not bad, but it was far from great. It gets a 5.5/10.
While I will not go back to the well for either of these beers, Ommegang brews what they call Chocolate Indulgence, which looks worth a try.