Thursday, March 20, 2008

Samuel Adams White Ale at Mimi's Cafe

Tonight I enjoyed a nice meal at Mimi's Cafe, and a Samuel Adams White Ale on draft. Their White Ale is their Spring offering from the Seasonal collection. I always prefer draft beer when I can get it, so this was a treat. The beer is an American version of the Belgian Witbier and was cloudy like a wit. It had a nice citrusy flavor, and was a little spicy. It's very similar to Blue Moon's White ale. It went well with my Chicken Cordon Blue, which was also delicious. It was good with my wife's dinner too - an excellent pot roast. Check out Mimi's!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dark Spruce Ale - looks good, but....

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had a couple of disappointing homebrews in a row, before I got back on track with my Holiday and Rye ales. This is one of the troublemakers. It's definitely a nice looking brew - almost black with a creamy brown head. It also has a nice body. The problem is in the spruce. Spruce is not a prominent type of tree here in Florida, so when I decided to try a spruce ale, I had to go with an extract. That's where I went astray. There were no instructions on how much to add, so I put in a couple of drops per bottle, thinking it was a reasonable amount. Wrong. The overwhelming smell and taste of spruce extract overpowers what would have been a nice dark ale. It's malty, and roasty, but the spruce comes in STRONG. My father-in-law usually enjoys my homebrews, but he won't drink this one. Fortunately, I brew in small batches, so there aren't too many left - even though I'm the only one who'll drink it. My other less-than-desirable recipe also involved an extract, so I'm swearing off of them. From now on, only natural flavorings and ingredients for me.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

This is one of the more popular American Pale Ales, and for good reason. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale poured a nice golden amber color with a decent white head that left some nice lacing on the glass. It had a strong hop profile, noticeably grapefruity Cascade hops were very obvious. In fact, this had more hop presence than the Long Hammer IPA I reviewed a while back. Being somewhat of a hop head, that suited me just fine. I've had this brew before, but I didn't remember it, so it was a pleasant surprise to come back to. I wonder if the other Sierra Nevada selections are as good....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen

Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen is a nice malty brew from Germany. It pours a nice amber color with a white head that rapidly diminished. It has enough noble hope character to balance the malt, and is a very enjoyable beer. I could drink a few of these! It's very slightly sweet. This is my first beer from Paulaner, and it was excellent. A Marzen is so-named because it is brewed in March, and lagered for 6 months, in time for Oktoberfest. Because it is a beer designed for autumn, it has a darker color and more malty flavor and body.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Robust Porter from Anchor Brewing

I'm familiar with Anchor Steam beer, but this is the first time I have tried their Porter. This is in the robust style, and is very roasty - nearly a Stout. It poured almost black, with a thick, caramel colored head. When viewed in the light, it is a rich mahogany color. I am very impressed with Anchor's Porter - one of the best I have ever had. This might even warrant a six-pack one day! If you're a Porter aficionado, this one is definitely worth trying.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Brooklyn Brown Ale

This is the first beer I have tried from the Brooklyn Brewery, which oddly enough, was brewed in Utica, NY. I assume this is a contract brew being brewed by F.X. Matt - home of the Saranac line of brews. It poured a nice deep brown, with a cream colored head. The head lasted a good long time. Usually, if the head still appears in my photo, then you can be sure it lasted a while - at least as long as it took for me to fumble around with the camera! This was a nice chocolaty brew, with a very mild hop presence. The folks in Utica did a good job on this one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tona Cerveza - Nicaraguan Lager

Frequently, I try to match my beer selection with my dinner choice, and tonight was Mexican. Other than a Corona Light, I had no Mexican beers, so I decided that this Nicaraguan Lager was the closest thing. It's called Tona Cerveza and I got it in a "Beers of the World" assortment at World Market. This is a very good imitation of a Mexican beer, and it went fine with my fajitas. As with most beers of this type, it was nothing exciting. It's your basic light lager. It had little hop flavor, and almost no head. The color was a nice golden yellow. No better, no worse than the typical Mexican lager.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Latest Homebrew - Rye Amber Ale

Today I enjoyed my most recent completed homebrew - a Rye Amber ale. I had purchased some rye malt, with the idea of trying it, so here's the result. After being in the fermenter for a month, carbonating in the bottle for two weeks, and a week in the fridge, my father-in-law and I tasted my newest creation. Another success! After a pair of unfortunate experiments with flavorings and extracts, I have now had two in a row that are great. I'll save my disappointing recipes for a future post. This ale poured a beautiful amber color, with a nice creamy head. The mouthfeel is as creamy as the head. The rye added a unique flavor that I don't know how to describe. The ale has a spicy character to it, which may be the rye, or may be the yeast. The hops come through nicely, without being overbearing. My only concern is that it is a little fruitier than I expected, probably due to the temps we have here in Florida. Damn this Florida weather! I've found that the fruitiness mellows out as it ages, so it will probably be perfect as I drink the last bottle. This will be a nice light flavored ale for the spring and summer, if it lasts that long! Here's the recipe I created:
3.3 lbs Briess Amber LME
6 Oz 50l Crystal Malt
5 Oz Biscuit Malt
5 Oz Rye Malt
1/2 Oz East Kent Goldings boiled for an hour
1/2 Oz Styrian Goldings boiled for 10 Minutes
Fermentis Safbrew T-58 Yeast
Corn Sugar for carbonation

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Abita Purple Haze - Raspberry Wheat

Abita's "Purple Haze" Raspberry Wheat beer is not purple. There's a slight reddish tint to the golden color, but definitely not purple. It is hazy, however, like most wheat beers. This was a very thirst-quenching smooth American style wheat beer, with a very subtle taste of raspberries. This would make a great summer beer. The raspberry flavor tasted natural, not imitation, which was a nice surprise. I can definitely recommend this beer for people who enjoy wheat beers.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mead - a Honey of a Wine

Many brew historians consider Mead to be the oldest alcoholic beverage. Mead in its' simplest form is just honey, water, and yeast. Add some raspberries or cherries, and you have a mead variation called melomel. This melomel is flavored with raspberries, which give it a nice flavor, and that beautiful rosy color. Mead is a brew that is not for the impatient. As it ages, it continues to change and improve. You can age mead for 1, 10 or 100 years. This particular brew is only about 6 months old, but is already clearing nicely and starting to mellow. If it lasts long enough, I am sure it will be wonderful in another year. If you have any questions about making Mead, just add a comment and I'll do my best to answer them. If you're already brewing beer, Mead is an obvious addition to your repertoire.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"You've Been Warned"

Today's beer review is from the Pennsylvania Brewing Co. It's their "Penndemonium", which I purchased in a 22 oz bottle. This beer is in the style of a Heller Bock, a light colored version of a bock beer. It is surprisingly strong at 8%, hence the reason for the warning on the bottle. It is also much more malty than I would have expected from a beer of this color. I like this beer! It has a mild hop character, just enough to balance the malt. My only complaint is the 22 oz bottle, because I feel like I can only drink it on Saturdays. I'll be watching for other offerings from Pennsylvania Brewing. I'm impressed with this one. I hope their other brews are as good.

Homebrew Spicy Holiday Ale - Definitely a Winter Warmer

Today I'm presenting one of my favorite homebrews. It was an experiment in creating a high alcohol beer that tastes great. I think it was a great success! I brew in small 2.5 gallon batches, so I can have more variety to drink. My Winter Warmer turned out spicy, and malty, and just a little sweet. This is a great beer for after dinner, when you're not going to drive anywhere. Here's the recipe for 2.5 gallons:
3.3 lbs Briess Golden Light Liquid Malt Extract
16 Oz Pure Maple Syrup (Not that bogus stuff)
8 Oz Special B Malt
4 Oz Gambrinus Honey Malt
8 Oz Extra Light DME
8 Oz Dried Pitted Dates
1/2 Oz Dried Sweet Orange Peel
1/2 Oz Cinnamon
1/2 Oz Crushed Cardamom
1 Oz Liberty Hops for bittering
3/4 Oz Willamette Hops for Flavoring
Fermentis Safbrew T-58 Yeast
This brew came out with a nice creamy head, as you can see in the photo. I steeped the grains until they hit 170 degrees, then pulled the grains and started the boil. When the wort started boiling, I added the Liberty hops, the malt extracts, and the dates. 45 minutes later, I added the Willamettes, and the spices, and boiled for another 15 minutes. This brew was ACTIVE in the fermenter for 3 weeks! I have no idea what the abv is, but it's pretty strong. Oh yeah, almost forgot - I primed it with Maple syrup for carbonating in the bottle. In my book, this was a winner!