Friday, December 19, 2008

Bischoff Falkensteiner Ur-Weisse

A short time ago I reviewed Bischoff's Falkensteiner Ur-Schwarze, and found it somewhat lacking. Tonight I tried another bottle of Bischoff - this time it's their Ur-Weisse. It poured a pale golden color with a big white head. The head was more impressive than the one on the Schwarze. The nose on this variety was closer to what I would expect from a wheat beer - some citrus notes, and some banana too. The flavor also had evidence of bananas and clove from the Bavarian hefeweizen yeast. This bottle was more true to the style than the Schwarze was. It still wasn't up to par when compared to my favorite - Weihenstephan, but it was better. It was refreshing and enjoyable with my chicken.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mad River Brewing Co. Steelhead Extra Stout

My digital camera decided it didn't want to take photos anymore, so I couldn't get a pic of tonight's beer in a glass. At least the bottle has a pretty label. It's Steelhead Extra Stout from Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake, CA. It poured a deep ruby and brown color with one of the darkest colored heads I've ever seen. The nose is mostly roasted malt. This is a richly flavored stout, with lots of the roasted malt you'd expect to find, as well as strong coffee notes and some licorice. Mad River's Steelhead brand of beers is definitely worth checking out. I have their Double IPA in the refrigerator, so stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kulmbacher Monchshof Kellerbrau

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a Schwarzbier from Kulmbacher Monchshof - a marvelous brewery in Kulmbach, Germany. Tonight I had another one of their brews - their Kellerbrau. This is a kellerbier - an unfiltered German lager. I've sampled kellerbiers from other brewers, but this is my favorite so far. It poured a deep cloudy golden color with a frothy white head. The photo makes the beer look darker than it actually was. Even with the big head, the beer was modestly carbonated, which is a traditional feature of a kellerbier. It was very smooth, with a moderate, but obvious Noble hop finish. Unfortunately, Monchshof seems to be hard to find in Florida, but I hope to try some of their other varieties in the future.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fuller's London Porter

Tonight we had burgers for dinner, so I felt like a dark beer was in order. I selected Fuller's London Porter from the Fuller Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London, England. This porter is a classic example of the brown Porter style. It poured a deep brown with a beige-colored head. The head was small, but lasting. This is a rich, roasty brew with generous notes of chocolate and caramel. I only wish I could make a Porter this good!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ol' Red Cease & Desist Wee Heavy

Tonight I tried a beer from a brewer that's new to me - Erie Brewing Co. in Erie, PA. It's their Ol' Red Cease & Desist Wee Heavy. A Wee Heavy is a higher horsepower version of a Scottish Ale - more malt, more alcohol, more everything. Ol' Red has an abv of 10.1%, so it fits into the Wee Heavy category in that way. It poured a deep amber color with a smallish off-white head. Carbonation is somewhat low, and it has a medium to medium-heavy body. There's lots of malt and toffee flavor, with some dark fruits and an alcohol finish. Hop presence is pretty low. I'm very impressed with my first beer from Erie Brewing. I definitely need to try some of their other offerings.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Left Hand Brewing's Oktoberfest

Here's another brew I picked up from Whole Foods - Left Hand Brewing's Oktoberfest Marzen Lager. I've enjoyed everything I have tasted from Left Hand, and this was no exception. It poured a deep amber with a small off-white head. It was rich and malty, with a touch of dark fruit and a bitter finish. This ranked up there with the other Oktoberfests I've been sampling lately.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ridgeway Brewing Reindeer's Revolt

World Market had a variety pack of winter brews from Ridgeway Brewing in Oxfordshire, England, but since I had already tried some of them, I decided to seek out the new ones elsewhere. I found "Reindeer's Revolt" at a local beer shop in Orlando. At $5 a 1/2 liter it was pretty pricey, but no more than it would have cost in the variety pack. This is an English Strong Ale, and has an abv of 6%. It poured a medium copper color with a fine cream colored head. It's a good looking beer. It smells mildly fruity and malty, and tastes of toffee, fruit and alcohol. It's a nice ale, but I'm not sure it was worth 5 bucks. The label was hard to resist.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Redhook Winter Hook Winter Ale

I always look forward to this time of year, because it seems like the most interesting and flavorful beers are released during the fall and winter. Spring and summer are all about light mild beers, while the cooler months bring out the Oktoberfests, the spicy Winter ales, the Barleywines, and more. So I popped the top on Redhook's Winter ale with some anticipation. It poured a deep copper, nearly brown color with a small off-white head. It smelled of caramel and pine-scented hops. So far, nothing extraordinary. The first sip followed the same pattern. It was a pretty unremarkable ale, with the most prominent feature being the piney hops in the finish. As it warmed it became a little sweeter and more flavorful, but overall, it was just another ale. I was hoping for something more.

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Once again, pizza was on the menu last night, so I went to the fridge looking for an IPA. I found a bottle of The Brookly Brewery's East India Pale Ale. I'm not sure what difference the East makes, but that's OK. The bottle shows 2 different locations for The Brooklyn Brewery. One of them is Brooklyn, while the other indicates that the beer was brewed in Utica, NY. I take that to mean that it's a contract brew by F.X. Matt in Utica. The ale poured a medium amber with a decent sized white head. The nose is malt and grass, while the palate is slightly sweet malt with lots of piney hops. No grapefruit hops in this one, which is a welcome change. I like the citrusy hops, but for a while there, I began to think it was a requirement of an IPA. This is a good solid IPA, and reminded me of the Saranac version. This is only the 2nd beer I have sampled from The Brooklyn Brewery, and I'm totally satisfied.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel

I am always amazed by German brewing tradition. Most German brewers follow the very strict German Purity law - the Reinheitsgebot - which says that beer must be made from water, malt, yeast, and hops. No other adjuncts can be added. Even so, they brew a wide variety of styles, all of which are uniquely different, and many are uniquely German. Tonight's beer is a German Dunkel, brewed by Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg in Kelheim, Germany. This is the 2nd beer I have tried from this brewer - the oldest Monastery brewery in the world. A while back I tasted their Asam Bock and reviewed it here. This dunkel is as impressive as the bock. It poured a crystal clear brown with a lasting off-white head. The aroma is of dark malt and fruit, and the palate is dark malt, a hint of raisins and cola, and some flowery hops. I am eagerly anticipating finding my next variety of beer from Weltenburger Kloster!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

He'Brew - The Chosen Beer - Messiah Bold

Although the word Porter does not appear on the bottle anywhere, this is essentially a brown Porter. It's described as a "Rich and Robust Dark Brown Ale", but I think it's roastier than a typical brown ale. Most of what I find in this ale is roasted malt, with a subdued amount of hop presence. I liked it fine, but it was not as unique as the last beer I tried from Shmaltz Brewing - the Freaktoberfest.

Belfast Bay Lobster Ale

This beer is from a brewer I have never heard of - Belfast Bay Brewing Co in Belfast Maine. I've seen reports that it is actually brewed by Shipyard, but I'm not sure of the veracity of that info. Regardless of who brews it, it is a fine ale. It poured a deep copper color, with a small, white, rapidly diminishing head. The nose is mostly caramel and malt. The caramel and malt continues in the flavor, with plenty of hop bitterness in the finish. Belfast Bay also makes an Oatmeal Stout, so I'll be watching for it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sprecher Oktoberfest

Sprecher Brewing Co. is located in Glendale, WI. They're unique in that they bottle all of their beers in 16 oz bottles. They also advertise on the label that their beers are "Fire Brewed". I'm not sure what that means exactly. This Oktoberfest is the first beer I have ever tried from Sprecher, and it was a good place to start. It poured a deep copper color with a pillowy head that lasted longer than most. The aroma is sweet malt, with floral hops. The flavor is also sweet and malty, with a nice touch of caramel and some hop bitterness in the finish. This one was a bit subdued when compared to the Freaktoberfest from a few days ago, but it's an excellent Marzen that's more true to the style.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bischoff Falkensteiner Ur-Schwarze

This past weekend, I took a trip to Knightly Spirits and spent 1/2 hour perusing their shelves for interesting beers. They always have a "bargain table" set up in the front of the store and in the past I've found a bunch of interesting imports and micros on this table. Tonight's beer came from that table. It's Bischoff's Falkensteiner Ur-Schwarze, which is a dark wheat beer. I confess that when I bought it, I thought it was a Schwarzbier, so I guess my reading skills were on hiatus that day. But that's ok - I like a good Hefewizen Dunkel, so I wasn't disappointed when I actually read the label today. When I twisted off the aluminum cap, there was no sound of escaping CO2, which didn't strike me as a good sign. It poured a chocolate brown, with a 1/4 inch tall head. A good hefeweizen should have a head that fills the glass, but this was far from it. The nose was a bit sour, and the first taste was definitely underwhelming. It was a bit tart, with just a hint of chocolate, and almost no Bavarian hefeweizen character. Whenever I drink a German wheat beer, I always compare it to what I consider the best brewer of these styles - Weihenstephan. Sadly, this doesn't come close. It's not a bad beer - it's simply mediocre.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Virus False Alarm

Well, it appears that I decimated my blog videos for no reason. According to some info I have received, the problem was due to a false positive from my Anti-virus software. What a waste. Oh well...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Virus problems at Youtube?

I just discovered that a virus had attached itself to each of my Youtube videos in my blog, so unfortunately, I had to delete them all. I don't understand what happened, but I nuked all my funny commercials because I didn't want to deal with a !%#$ virus.

Coney Island Freaktoberfest from Shmaltz Brewing

I picked this bottle up at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and haven't tried it til now since it was a 22 oz bottle. When I poured this, I was shocked to see it pour PINK! The head looked like cotton candy. I don't know what they used to give it the shocking pink color, but it didn't detract from the beer. This is some GOOD beer! The pink head lasted a good while, and the beer was very flavorful. There's a ton of malt in here, expertly offset by a generous batch of piney hops. There's plenty of toffee flavor and a nice bitter finish. I am really impressed with Shmaltz Brewing. They are also the makers of the "He'Brew" line of beers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saranac Golden Pilsener

Another Pilsener tonight, this time from Saranac. Saranac spells Pilsener differently from most, which I more frequently see spelled as Pilsner. Just an observation, for whatever it's worth. I tried this tonight as a comparison to the Carolina Blonde I had a couple of days ago. I have to say that the main difference is in the hops. Saranac doesn't have a lot of hops in this beer, but it's hoppier than the Carolina. The bottle describes this as a wheat beer, which surprised me, since most Pilsners are not made from wheat. This beer is a bit fruity like a wheat. The beer was packaged in Saranac's 12 Beers of Summer collection, and it is a good summer beer - light, refreshing, easy to drink.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Carolina Blonde - from the can this time

Back in October when I was on vacation, my nephew gave me some Carolina Blonde to try - two bottles and two cans. I reviewed the bottled variety a short time ago here. My nephew made it clear that he preferred it from the bottle rather than the tall skinny can. Since we're having a Mexican style dish tonight (enchiladas made from turkey) I thought this light lager/pilsner might masquerade as a Mexican style beer. The first thing I noticed when I poured it from the can is that it had no head - none. It has plenty of carbonation, but none of it wanted to form a head. To be fair, I don't remember the bottled version very well, but I do know that it had a head for a short time. The canned version also seems a little fruitier than I remember. Once again, this is an easy-to-drink light colored beer that's very refreshing. I understand why my nephew likes it, although I don't think I have a preference between the bottle and the can.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kulmbacher Monchshof Schwarz

Today I was preparing to bottle my latest homebrew - my Imperial Stout, and discovered that I was a couple of bottles short of what I need for the batch. This posed a conundrum - do I get some more bottles? or do I empty some of the ones I already have filled with homebrew? Considering the magnitude of the decision, I decided to do both. With lunch, I drank one of my homebrewed brown ales which brought me one bottle closer to my goal. I then decided to add some more bottles to my collection, so off I went to one of my favorite beer stores to get some bottles. I always prefer to buy full bottles and empty them myself. Kulmbacher Monchshof in Germany uses some great bottles when packaging their Schwarzbier and Kellerbier. I picked up some of each, (along with 9 other beers) and decided on the Schwarz for tonight. Schwarz means black in German, and this beer is definitely black. So far, this is my favorite Schwarzbier. It's smooth, malty, a little bit roasty, and really easy to drink. It has a nice nutty flavor as well. Schwarzbiers are brewed with lager yeast, and Monchshof advertises this beer as "The Original Black Pilsner". IMHO, this is WAY better than a Pilsner. And I get a double benefit of being able to refill the bottle after enjoying its original contents!

Brewing Up Some Cyser

Today my wife and I created another version of mead - a cider and mead combination known as cyser. Basically, we took two gallons of apple cider, 4 lbs of honey, 1/2 lb of demerara sugar, and heated them up. Once the must cooled off, we poured it into the fermenter and added some yeast. Now we wait - probably until next Thanksgiving. Sure, it will have fermented long before then, but aging is important for mead. It helps mellow out the flavors. The yeast are busy doing their thing - eating sugar, making alcohol. What a perfect pet!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Ale

I was in Publix this afternoon, getting some last minute 'stuff' for Turkey day and saw this beer in the cooler. Leinenkugel is not very well-represented in Florida - usually I can only find their wheat beers - so this was a pleasant surprise. I don't buy many six-packs, but since this was a seasonal beer, and I had never seen it before, I thought "Why not?". The description on the six-pack holder also intrigued me (which is what it's supposed to do). The beer poured a chestnut brown with a small whitish head. The aroma was of milk chocolate and malt, while the flavor was very unique. It tasted of milk chocolate and hazelnuts and was pleasantly sweet. My wife tasted it, to help me identify another flavor I was having trouble defining, and said "this tastes like Dr. Pepper". After another sip, I realized she was right. All in all, this was a very pleasant, easy-drinking beer that I don't mind having a six-pack of. It is modest in alcohol, so it could easily be a session beer. I hope that finding this new variety is a sign that I'll be able to find some more Leinie's in Florida in the future.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Tonight I tried a beer style I have not tasted before - an Imperial Porter. I'm not sure if Flying Dog invented this style, but their Gonzo Imperial Porter is the first one I have ever tried. I guess the 9.2% abv is what makes it Imperial. It poured an opaque black, with ruby highlights and a finger-tall brown head. The aroma is chocolate, while the flavor is chocolate, coffee, licorice and sweet highly-roasted malt. The finish is chocolate too, with some alcohol warming, and very little hop presence. This is a great beer for the colder months. Chalk up another excellent brew for Flying Dog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dogfish Head Red & White

Tonight, my wife and I shared a bottle of Dogfish Head's Red & White. Since I've become a light-weight drinker now that I'm 50, there was no way I was going to drink this 10% abv, 25 ounce bottle myself. Dogfish Head advertises this as a cross between a Belgian Wit and a red wine - hence the name "Red & White". It poured a beautiful pinkish orange with a small white head. The head evaporated almost immediately, which didn't surprise me considering the higher gravity of the beer. This is an unfiltered beer, and there was a lot of sediment in our two glasses. Sediment doesn't bother me, as long as it doesn't feel like I'm drinking pulpy orange juice. This is a fine marriage of a wit and a red wine - they complement each other perfectly. It had the orange/coriander presence from the wit, and the grapes gave it the vinous quality I expected. It was quite sweet and refreshing. I'm glad I didn't attempt to finish the bottle on my own though; the alcohol content was quite obvious after drinking the first half of the glass. This is a teriffic specialty beer from my favorite Delaware brewery! Check it out!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Homebrewed Vanilla Porter - 1st Taste Test

Tonight I celebrated being back home from my business trip by popping the top of my homebrewed Vanilla Porter. It's probably too early to drink it, but I'm impatient when it comes to my homebrew. It poured a ruby-tinged black color with a big chocolate-milk colored head. I tried this beer before I bottled it and was disappointed by the lack of vanilla flavor, so I added some vanilla extract to each bottle. It doesn't seem to have helped. I didn't discern any vanilla flavor in this bottle. The Porter turned out more fruity than it should be for the style, which doesn't surprise me because of the temperatures I was fighting at the time it was fermenting. All my homebrews improve over time, so I hope that this one will as well. It is definitely not my worst effort, but I have made better. I'll report on it again as I let it age some more.

A Week without blogging....

Well, my "real" job dragged me kicking and screaming out of Florida this past week, so I've been unable to do any blogging. Thankfully, I'm back home for the foreseeable future, so my entries should become more consistent again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saranac Hefeweizen

Saranac's Hefeweizen is a seasonal offering from F.X. Matt - part of their "12 Beers of Summer" collection. I was interested in comparing this to the Flying Dog Hefeweizen I reviewed a couple of months ago. Saranac's version poured a clear gold color, with a small white head. A true Bavarian Hefeweizen is usually cloudy, with a BIG fluffy head. As for taste, I was pleased to find the traditional banana-clove flavor that comes from Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast. This is definitely not an American style wheat beer. Saranac would have nailed it perfectly if there had been a nice big head to crown their Hefeweizen. I think the Flying Dog was closer to the style, but even so, this was a nice beer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Left Hand Brewing's Jackman's American Pale Ale

Today I selected anothe beer from Left Hand Brewing - Jackman's American Pale Ale. I'm not sure who Jackman is, but he or she has a pretty good APA. It poured a beautiful amber/orange color with a puffy white long-lasting head that left plenty of lacing. The nose was fruity and hoppy. The taste was also fruity, with plenty of malt and a nice bitter hoppy finish. This is another winner from Left Hand in Longmont, CO.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout

Shipyard Brewery is located in Portland, Maine and they produce a lot of different beer styles. Blue Fin Stout is an Irish Dry style Stout. It poured a deep brown - almost black, with a big fluffy brown head. It has plenty of roasted malt in the nose and in the palate as well. Carbonation was a bit higher than I anticipated, but was not a detriment. It had a pleasant coffee bitterness in the finish. Shipyard did a nice job with this stout!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tiger World Acclaimed Lager Beer

Brewed by Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd in Singapore, Tiger Lager is a golden lager in the European tradition. It poured a crystal clear gold color with a rapidly-diminishing white head. It follows in the tradition of most of the European lagers - pale, smooth, and lightly hopped. It's inoffensive but not interesting. It's got a touch of sweetness to it, but there's not much else to say about it. Fortunately it was in a brown bottle, so at least it wasn't skunked.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Day of Brewing

Things have been a bit lax around my home brewery lately. Jobs and life seem to have gotten in the way of conscientious brewing. Yesterday, my wife and I finally bottled my Vanilla Bean Porter, after a month in the fermenter. It should be ready just in time for Thanksgiving. I tasted the uncarbonated beer as we prepared to bottle it, and found that it didn't have the vanilla flavor I was looking for, so I added some vanilla extract to each bottle. Hopefully, I didn't go overboard. We also bottled our Florida Pyment, made from Muscadine grapes, which are native to the Sunshine State, and Orange Blossom honey. It's aging beautifully.

Every year I brew a special holiday beer, something with lots of alcohol and lots of body. Last year it was my Winter Warmer, brewed with dates and lots of spices. This year, I decided to brew a Spiced Bourbon Imperial Stout. It started fermenting within hours of pitching the yeast, and it's still going strong. I created the recipe by combining a couple of recipes from two different books I have, and then tweaked it some more. I expect that it will be black as ink, with a full body and about 10% alcohol. I hope it's ready for Christmas, but I have my doubts. I'll be reporting on it when I'm finally able to crack the top on the first one. In the mean time, my Porter should be ready in about 2 weeks. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shiner Bock

Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX brews one of the most popular beers in Texas - Shiner Bock. They also make a number of other brews, but until recently, their bock was the only variety available here in Florida. This afternoon, I saw Shiner Hefeweizen at the grocery store, so I'll have to give it a taste some time soon. Shiner Bock is a deep amber color with a small white head. It's similar in body to a lager, but is slightly sweeter and more malty than a "normal" American lager. There's a touch of caramel as well, and a mildly bitter finish. This is a decent beer, but not something that will stand out in my memory.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saranac Winter Wassail

I still have some beers left from last year's Saranac "12 Beers of Winter" assortment, and Winter Wassail is one of them. It poured a deep amber-brown color with a small off-white head. It's brewed with traditional holiday spices and orange peel, and they give it a subtle spicy fruitiness. Mouthfeel is a little thin for a winter beer. I would have preferred something a little bit heavier in body, and higher in alcohol. The spices were well-balanced, not over-the-top. This was pretty tasty, but I think it could have benefitted if it was more of a "Winter Warmer". F.X. Matt has a new Winter assortment this year, with 4 new beers in it. I hope I can find it here in Orlando!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Forza Azzurri Italian Export Lager

I haven't had a lot of Italian beers, but the last one I had was very good - Moretti La Rossa. I found this beer hiding in the back of the fridge, so I decided to try it tonight. I'm always a little suspicious of European Lagers in green bottles, but I needed to drink it at some point. This is Forza Azzurri from CASTELLO di UDINE Spa, in San Giorgio, Italy. It poured a deep gold color with a small white head. It looked pretty good - better than I expected. The first taste was a surprise - hey, this actually has some malt in it! It was sweeter than most lagers, and hop presence was pretty low, but it was pretty good! It went well with my chicken, and I enjoyed it just fine. A pleasant surprise - not your run-of-the-mill European lager.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Petrus Winterbeer

Tonight's beer is from Belgium, brewed at Brouwerij Bavik in Bavikhove. It's called Petrus Winterbeer, and it's my first winter seasonal this year. It poured a medium brown color with a large fluffy white head that diminished rapidly. It's pretty well-carbonated as many Belgian ales are, and is light to medium in body. It's fruity and spicy, with some sweet malt and raisins coming through at the end. I know it's a little early for winter (even though Wal-Mart is already playing Christmas music!) but I have a weak spot for beer bottles with Santa on them. This was a good warmup for the season, and I'll be looking forward to the rich, malty, spicy, syrupy beers to come!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout

Milk stout (sometimes called sweet stout) is an interesting variation on the stout theme - a stout brewed with lactose to make it sweeter. Lactose is unfermentable by the types of yeast used in beer, so it remains in its sugar form, rather than being processed into alcohol. I attempted to brew a milk stout a couple of years ago, and failed miserably. I'll stick to buying the commercial varieties for now, until I get brave enough to try it again.
Left Hand Brewing Company is located in Longmont, CO, and they produce a lot of different varieties of beer. In fact, when I looked in the fridge tonight, I had 3 different Left Hand brews waiting to be tasted. I had burgers for dinner, so I decided on a dark beer to go along with my red meat. Left Hand's Milk Stout poured a deep brown that was nearly black, with a small tan colored head. Mouthfeel was lighter than I expected, and also more carbonated. The aroma is mostly roasted malt, and the flavor is roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of licorice. It had the expected sweetness from the lactose. Some brewers add additional sugar after pasteurizing, to increase the sweetness, but I don't believe that's the case with Left Hand's version. This was a very nice milk stout, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saranac Kolsch

Kolsch is a German style of beer, essentially a golden ale that is top fermented and then aged cold - very similar to another German style - Altbier. Kolsch originated in Cologne Germany, and is very prevalent there. I got a couple of bottles of Saranac's Kolsch in their "Beers of Summer" variety pack. It poured a pale gold color with a smallish white head. This is a very light beer. It has a light maltiness, and almost no hop presence. This is a good summer beer, but not much different from a pale lager. This is the first Kolsch I have ever tried, so I don't know how close it is to the traditional Kolsch from Cologne.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wychwood Fiddler's Elbow Ale

Tonight I sampled another ale from Wychwood in Witney, Oxfordshire, England. This one's called Fiddler's Elbow, and it's in the style of an English Bitter. It poured a deep gold color, with a big creamy long-lasting head that left plenty of lacing. The aroma is malt and flowery hops. Carbonation was low, and the flavor was mostly sweet malt and more floral hops. The finish was mildly bitter. I really like these English Bitters, and this was no exception. Wychwood is getting to be one of my preferred English brewers. I'll be on the lookout for more of their varieties.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Strange Brew Tavern in Manchester, NH

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went on a vacation in New Hampshire, to celebrate our 27th anniversary. We spent a couple of nights in Manchester, and while there, met some friends of ours (two couples) who were also celebrating anniversaries that week. Since one of the couples was honoring their first year of marriage, they went all out and rented a limo for the night. We got to ride along in style, and we had our own official designated driver. After a great dinner at a local wine and fondue restaurant, we headed to downtown Manchester to a bar called "Strange Brew Tavern". My wife and I aren't much for the bar scene, but we decided to tag along. "Strange Brew" was very crowded that night, and had a live blues band performing. The blues band was very good, but the main attraction was the beer selection! They had over 65 different beers on tap - including local microbrews, such as Smuttynose, Woodstock Inn, and Ipswich - as well as imports from England, Germany, Quebec, and Belgium. Their list of bottled beers was even more extensive! Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, we had already had more beer than I normally drink in a week, so I limited myself to 1 beer - Stone Brewing's Smoked Porter. It was nice and roasty with enough smoke flavor to live up to its name. Shortly after finishing our beer, the limo had to be retired for the evening, so we headed back to the hotel. Since getting back home to Florida, my wife picked up a copy of Imbibe Magazine, and found "Strange Brew Tavern" listed as one of the top 100 places to drink beer in America. It's the only 1 on the list that I've been to, so I guess I better start working on the list! If you're ever in Manchester, check it out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dogfish Head Burton Baton Imperial IPA

I've been saving this bottle of Dogfish Head Burton Baton in my fridge for a while, but decided to give it a taste test tonight. The bottle describes it as "An oak-aged Imperial India Pale Ale". It's a mixture of two different IPA's. One is aged in French Oak, while the other is their traditional 90 Minute IPA. They blend the two together to come up with Burton Baton. Due to its 10% alcohol level, this is best enjoyed as a sipping beer. It poured a deep amber, with a large off-white head. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy - some may consider it syrupy. The initial taste is sweet malt, with a strong hop influence to balance out the malt. It also has some port-like characteristics, and a warming alcohol finish. This is a beer that is to be enjoyed 1 at a time, possibly as an after-dinner beer. At $4.00 a bottle, I won't be drinking a lot of these, but I wish I could!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Darwin Brewery's Original Flag Porter

Darwin Brewery is located in Durham, England and they have won numerous awards for this Porter. The Porter was created from a 19th century recipe, and was brewed using yeast from vessels of beer found in a salvaged ship that had sunk in the English Channel, back in 1825. Isn't that a great story? The beer poured a nearly black color, with ruby highlights. The pencil-thin head vanished pretty rapidly. The aroma is sweet toffee, and the flavor is mostly milk chocolate, dark roasted malt and coffee. It's almost stout-like. It has low carbonation, and a medium body. The alcohol level is at 5%, which is perfect for a Porter. I really liked this beer, and the brewery's done a good job with their antique yeast.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale

I went to World Market yesterday to pick up some mulling spices to make some spiced apple cider (yes, warm apple cider season is here!). I saw this beer in a big display, and the idea of a pecan ale was quirky and interesting enough to get my attention. I don't usually buy six packs, but the afore-mentioned quirkiness was enough to make me splurge. Abita is a Louisiana brewer, and the pecans they use in this brew are grown right there in the Bayou State. The ale poured a medium amber (or should I say pecan color) with a 1 inch off-white head. My first swallow didn't catch the pecans, but subsequent sips helped me find them. It's a very subtle flavor, and is similar to the nuttiness of a brown ale. In fact, this reminded me of a brown ale in a lot of respects. It had some caramel flavor, and very low hop levels. The finish was lightly sweet and nutty. This is a very smooth easy-drinking ale. I don't regret buying a sixer. Check it out!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale

Today we went to Whole Foods, and couldn't resist their sausage department. We chose an assortment of chicken and pork sausages, and something new that we hadn't had before - Buffalo hot dogs. Not buffalo as in spicy chicken wings, but buffalo as in bison. I could hardly wait for lunch-time. As the sausages and dogs cooked on the grill, I selected Flying Dog's Doggie Style Pale Ale to go along with them. This pale ale is a bit hoppier than most, and reminded me of Sierra Nevada's version, which I posted about here. It's dry-hopped with Cascades, and the grapefruity flavored hops definitely stand out. It has enough malt backbone to offset the Cascades, and is moderately carbonated. It poured a copper color with a small white head. This ale was the perfect accompaniment to my Buffalo hot dog, which was excellent - lean and spicy, flavorful enough to be eaten with no topping. If there's a Whole Foods near you, check 'em out!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saranac Black Diamond Bock

While on my vacation a couple of weeks ago, I visited my sister and family in New York and she presented me with some Saranac beer, which included a six-pack of their Black Diamond Bock. I've never had it before, so I was anxious to try it. It poured a medium amber-brown with a small cream-colored head. The beer was slightly cloudy, like it had a chill-haze to it. This is considered to be one of their winter brews, and as such, it is deliciously malty. It also had some dark fruit flavor, and some chocolate too. It lived up to my expectations, and I'm glad I have 5 bottles left!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Olde Pelican English Style Pale Ale

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my visit to Orlando Brewing. Today, I grabbed one of their beers from the fridge - Olde Pelican English Style Pale Ale. The ale poured a deep amber with a small white head. The aroma of malt was very prominent, with a little bit of hops and some butterscotch. The malt and butterscotch followed through in the flavor as well, along with some sweet toffee. This beer was maltier than I expected, and it was a pleasant surprise. Hop presence was quite low, but just right. It had a medium body, with pretty low carbonation. I really liked this ale! Orlando Brewing is a Certified Organic Brewery, and I didn't think that it meant much, but maybe I was mistaken. I'll definitely be on the lookout for some of their other varieties.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner is one of the brewery's "extreme" beers. This is a seriously malty and hoppy brew! It poured a medium amber color with a large golden head that lasted a long time. The aroma is flowery piney hops and sweet malt. The first sip was quite sweet, and then the hops hit with a vengeance! This beer is more like an Imperial IPA than a Pilsner. As expected, the finish was decidedly bitter. Alcohol is at 8.1%, but there is no specific alcohol flavor, as it's hidden by the hops. If you're a hop-head, this is definitely worth looking for. It's packaged in a four pack and a bit pricey, but well worth it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The new issue is here!

I just received the new issue of "Brew Your Own" magazine, the "How-to Homebrew Beer Magazine". As usual, there are lots of interesting articles and recipes. The most interesting recipe I've found is for "Hop Hammer Imperial IPA". If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that IPA's are one of my favorite styles of beer. "Hop Hammer" uses 5 different varieties of hops, and creates a beer with an alcohol level of 8.8% abv. I will definitely be trying this recipe! There's also an article on how to build a great kegerator with 10 taps! It looks like a piece of furniture. If you're a homebrewer, you should take a look at "Brew Your Own" when you get an opportunity. You can even get a free trial copy from their website -

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Satan Gold Belgian Ale

Who could resist a beer named "Satan Gold" with a picture of a devil on the label? I knew right away it had to be Belgian. The Belgians are the cowboys of the brewing world. This strong golden ale was brewed by Brewery de Block, Merchtem-Pezeigem, Belgium. It poured a hazey gold color with a fluffy white head with huge bubbles. Once the largest bubbles went away, there was an eighth-inch head on the beer for the remainder of the glass. It had a ginger ale-like carbonation. As with many Belgian ales, it was very fruity, both in the nose and the palate. There was also some sweet malt, and a warming alcohol finish. At 8% abv, that was not a surprise. This was a fine Belgian ale, very much in character with other Belgian Goldens.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Carolina Blonde - Ale or Pilsner?

Here's another beer I picked up during my vacation. My nephew spent some time in North Carolina recently, and really liked this beer, so he gave me a bottle of it to try. It poured a golden yellow color with a small white head. It's a very light beer in flavor and in body. In fact, it's pretty fizzy. Drinking this beer reminds me of my college days, when the only thing I drank was Miller High Life. All the German and Canadian beers were too "heavy" for my tastes at the time. That was in the mid 70's when not much was available other than American macros. The Carolina Blonde website describes this beer as a golden ale, while on the bottle they refer to it as a "Genuine Pilsner style" beer. Since a Pilsner is a lager style, rather than an ale, I'm not sure how this is brewed. By taste and body, I feel it's a pretty typical light lager/pilsner. The aroma is very light malt, and the flavor is somewhat grassy, with a little hint of citrus in the finish. There's not much going on in the way of hops. This beer goes down really easily, and would make a great lawnmower beer, but I wouldn't search it out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wyerbacher Hops Infusion India Pale Ale

I've heard good things about Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton, PA, so when I saw this beer at Total Wines in Orlando, I immmediately added it to my mixed six-pack. According to their web-site, Hops Infusion is brewed with 7 different varieties of hops to give it complexity that's missing from other IPA's. I'm gonna blame it on my taste buds, because the only hop note that I pick up is pine. I was expecting some grapefruit flavor, but I didn't find it. Regardless, it's a good IPA. There's enough malt to back up the hops, and it had a nice piney bitter finish. It poured a medium amber with a pencil-thin white head. At 6.2 %, the alcohol level was right where I expected for an IPA. I'll be looking for some other Weyerbacher varieties the next time I find myself in the market for beer. Right now my fridge is full to overflowing, with beer waiting to be chilled. Don'tcha just hate it when that happens?!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Fast food was on the menu tonight, and those places tend to have a very short beer menu, so I decided to have a beer for dessert instead. I've been looking at a bottle of Young's Double Chocolate Stout in my fridge for a while, but I didn't think it would be a good dinner beer. It poured a deep brown, nearly black, with a pillowy brown head. The head lasted a good while, and left some nice lacing behind. The nose is all chocolate, like a candy bar. Young's brews this beer with actual dark chocolate along with the chocolate malt, making this beer very chocolaty! I was anticipating a sweeter beer, but was not disappointed. Too much sweetness along with the chocolate could border on cloying. As the beer warmed, the chocolate became even more apparent. The finish had a coffee-like bitterness. Alcohol is at 5.2% abv, which is perfect for an after-dinner beer. This beer is also available in a 1/2 liter can with a nitrogen injecting widget, for a really creamy head.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Saranac Black Forest

Saranac's Black Forest is their version of a Bavarian style Schwarzbier - a smooth-drinking dark beer brewed using lager yeast. It poured a deep brown, almost black color with a fluffy tan head. The aroma is of caramel malt. Black Forest is easy to drink, and would be a great session beer. It's roastier than a lager due to the dark malts, and is slightly sweet as well. This went great with my dinner tonight. This bottle came from their Trail Mix assortment.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery in NH

While on vacation, my wife and I took a trip over to the New Hampshire coast, to the town of Portsmouth. Portsmouth is the home of 3 different breweries - The Portsmouth Brewery, Smuttynose, and RedHook. I wanted to visit all 3, but time forced me to limit my visits to one. I selected the smallest one - the Portsmouth Brewery - figuring they had the smallest distribution range, and because I had heard that they had good food too. The rumor was true, as we soon found out. We started out with a sampler "sled" of the 10 brews they had on tap. Since this brewery is owned by Smuttynose, 4 of the brews were their creations. The picture shows the sampler, which was great. The closest one, which we drank before we remembered the camera, is Portsmouth's Dirty Blond Ale - a very creamy light ale that was really refreshing. It's followed up by their Octoberfest, a nice malty brew. Then came my favorite - Hop Harvest #2, which had lots of grapefruity American hops. The 4th beer was a Milk Stout, which was smooth and sweet - much better than my own pathetic attempt at brewing this style. We then tried a Pumpkin Ale, which was perfectly spiced. Bottle Rocket IPA followed the Pumpkin, and it was sweeter, and less hoppy than the Hop Harvest. The four Smuttynose varieties were all excellent as well - Old Brown Dog Brown Ale, Portsmouth Lager, Smutty Shoals Pale Ale, and Smutty Maibock.

The food portion of the meal was equally impressive. Since we had just had burgers at the Gilded Otter, we decided to go with something different - a Blackened Salmon sandwich for me, and a Veggie Sandwich for my wife. My salmon was perfect - moist and spicy, with Chipotle mayo. The centerpiece of my wife's sandwich was a huge grilled Portabella mushroom. She was as pleased with her sandwich as I was with mine. Both came with a big helping of spicy fries, which we shouldn't have eaten, but did anyway. Once again, I bought another pint glass for my collection.

You can't go wrong with lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager

Flying Dog has another fine beer in their lineup called "Old Scratch" Amber Lager. This was part of their assortment pack that I got a couple of months ago. It poured a copper color with an inch-tall off-white head. It had a bit of caramel-malt flavor, with a modest level of hop bitterness. Carbonation was relatively low in comparison to others in this style, but it's not a fault. This was a smooth easy-to-drink beer, and of course, the labels are always entertaining on Flying Dog beers.