Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Orkney Dragonhead Stout

A new wine and ale store opened up here in Clermont, FL, so I had to stop in and see what they had to offer. I was a little concerned that their emphasis on wine would cripple their ale selection, but I was pleasantly surprised. They had a decent selection of domestic microbrews and imports - without a single bottle of Coors, Miller or Anheuser Busch in the store. The best part - they'll sell any of their beers as singles. So I picked up a six-pack of singles plus 1. Orkney's Dragonhead Stout was the odd one because it was the only 16 oz bottle I selected. The Orkney Brewery is on an island off Scotland. This stout is dry and roasty with some coffee and chocolate in evidence. It also has a tangy flavor in the background, very reminiscent of Guinness. I like stouts almost as much as porters, and this one was very good. It poured a nearly black color with a small deep beige head. I also liked Orkney's Skullsplitter ale, which I sampled a year ago.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

In my mind, there is no better beer to go with a real NY style pizza than an IPA. A good IPA is the only beer that can really stand up to a salty, spicy pizza. Pilsners and lagers are more popular, but they get lost in the sauce. Dogfish Head makes some of the best IPA's in the country, if you're a hop-head like me. Next time you have a pizza, try a Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA and see if I'm right.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shipyard Brewing's Prelude Ale

This ale is a leftover from the holidays, and is in the style of a strong ale, or a Winter Warmer. It's a malty spicy brew with a higher level of alcohol. It poured a deep mahogany color with a small cream colored head. I enjoyed the rich malt flavor with hints of chocolate mixed in with the spices. I've had thie beer before when it had a different label, but this label's snowy scene gives a better clue to its style. I enjoyed this one a lot, even if it is nearly summer.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sleeman's Crean Ale #64

I bought a sampler of Sleeman brews, and this is the first 1 up for review - Cream Ale #64. The story behind the number 64 is that a recipe book was found which contained the original Sleeman family beer recipes, and the number corresponds to the page number that the recipe was found on. There must be a lot of recipes in that book! This is a nice looking beer - a clear golden color with small white head. I found it to be very typical of Canadian beers, and felt that it was more like a golden lager than an ale. It had a nice hop presence, and crisp finish. Unfortunately, there was nothing to make it stand out in a crowd of other Canadian beers. Solid, but kinda boring.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cintra Brazilian Beer

I decided to try this beer because we were eating Cuban style grilled chicken, and since I didn't have any Cuban beer, I thought Brazilian would be similar. I have to say that Cintra is very similar to any of the Mexican lagers that are out there, such as Corona or Sol. Very pale, very light, very carbonated. It's a good example of a pale lager, and went fine with my chicken. I just won't brag about it to anyone. This was another one of the varieties I found in World Market's Beers of the World assortment.

Left Hand Brewing's Juju Ginger

When I saw this beer, I just had to try it. I really like beer and I really like ginger, so this was win-win. It poured a nice honey color, with a great big white head. The head evaporated rather quickly, but at least it had one for a little while. This is a very light beer, and would be excellent for the summer. It tasted almost like a wheat, but it's actually a pale ale, flavored with ground ginger root. The ginger was more obvious than I expected, which was a good thing. I liked this a lot, even though my tastes normally tend toward maltier brews.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Camerons Strong Arm Ruby Red Ale

I had high expectations for this Red English Ale, but they quickly dissipated upon pouring it. It poured a somewhat muddy deep amber, and the head was non-existent. The flavor was uninspiring. It had somewhat of a metallic taste to it which was distracting. I thought it compared to a couple of other red ales that I have had that were equally disappointing - such as Murphy's Red. I love Murphy's Stout, but their red is as mediocre as this one. I'm glad I didn't buy a six-pack!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Dog "Porter"

As I mentioned in my last post, I named my dog "Porter" after the beer, and because he's black and tan. I know that a black and tan is made with stout, but I didn't think Stout was a very good name for a Dachshund. Porter is a beer-lover himself, but it's a very rare treat for him - usually reserved for when I'm bottling my latest creation, and he's cleaning up the drips on the floor (and only if he can beat our other Dachshund to it). Porter's a great dog, and his name is a pretty subtle beer reference, so we don't get any funny looks when we call him. And it's a lot better than calling him Stout.

Rogue Mocha Porter

I'm a big fan of Porters. I even named my dog Porter. Today's review is Oregon Brewing's Rogue Mocha Porter. This is a dark rich Porter in the Robust style. It has a big roasty malt flavor, with chocolate and coffee accents. Although neither of these ingredients are actually used to make this beer, the malt selection creates these flavors in a big way. Hence the Mocha in the name. It poured a deep brown with a small tan head. The mouthfeel was as rich as the flavor. The hops nicely balanced out the brew. Oregon Brewing is another of my favorite microbreweries, and this just added to my favorable opinion.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Newest Homebrew - Maple Wheat Ale

I started homebrewing using the Mr Beer system several years ago, and I still use their fermenters because they're the perfect size - about 2-1/2 gallons. One of the Mr Beer recipes that always interested me was their Maple Wheat. So, I decided to make my own. I don't use their ingredients anymore, but the inspiration was from them. Here's the recipe:
3.3 lbs Briess Bavarian Wheat Malt Extract
16 Oz Pure Maple Syrup
4 Oz Crystal Malt 10L
4 Oz CaraPils Malt
1/2 Oz Hersbrucker Hops
1/2 Oz Saaz Hops
Wyeast 1010 American Wheat Yeast
I really like using Maple Syrup in my beer. I like the flavor it adds. It also kicks up the horsepower! I cracked open my first bottle of this yesterday, and I'm very pleased. I have to say that the alcohol level is unusual for a wheat beer. It turned out darker than I expected, but had a great big head. It tasted like a wheat beer, but had some alcohol in the finish. The hops were subdued, so I probably should have used a little more. I'm looking forwared to seeing how this ages.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen

Tonight, I had another good brew from Paulaner. This is a very classic example of a Bavarian Hefe-weizen. Since Hefe means "yeast", it poured a cloudy golden color, with the huge head that is typical of a good Hefe-Weizen. The cloudiness is from the yeast that has not been filtered from the beer. The flavor is fruity, with the essence of bananas and cloves that I have come to expect from a Bavarian style Hefe. These flavors are produced by the yeast. I think this wheat compares very favorably to another favorite Hefe-Weizen. the one produced by Weihenstephan.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saranac Scotch Ale from F.X. Matt

Growing up as a kid in upstate NY, my family made numerous visits to the FX Matt Brewery in Utica, NY - home of Utica Club beer. It was a fun tour, and my sisters and I always got some great root beer at the end of the tour, while my parents enjoyed samples of the stronger stuff. So, I have a soft spot for Saranac. Unfortunately, I have to rely on my sister to bring me some, since it isn't available here in Florida. This bottle came from their Christmas seasonal mix, along with 5 other Saranac brews. I really like malty brews, and Scottish Ales are a favorite. This one did not disappoint me. This was a maltier, smokier, sweeter and hoppier variation of the style than the Belhaven I reviewed a short time ago. Chalk it up to the American brewer to make a beer with more of everything. In this case, more IS more. I liked the Belhaven, but I like this one even more. Maybe it's not as "true to style", but that's fine with me. As you can see in the photo, it poured a very nice amber color with a nice beige head that lasted a long time. There is nothing better than a great beer and a great burger, and I had both tonight!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Urpin Dunkel - Slovakia

Tonight I tried a dunkel from Pivovar Urpin in Slovakia. This was a pleasant surprise. It looked more like a brown ale than a dunkel, with a tan-colored head. It had notes of chocolate, toffee, and also some coffee. It was slightly sweet, and at 4.6% alcohol, it could easily be a session beer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Famous Narragansett Beer

I saw this at my local beer store - Knightly Spirits for those of you familiar with Orlando, FL - and I recognized it from the writings of my favorite author, Stephen King. King mentions it in a few of his books, including It and The Stand. The price was right too - a buck for a 16 oz can. So, it was a no-brainer. As you can see in the picture, it has a great big fluffy white head, and a typical golden macrobrew color. This is old-school beer - reminds me of my high school years (way back when the drinking age in NY was 18. I was only slightly illegal). This is not unlike Schlitz, Schaefer, Piels, Pabst, or any of those other inexpensive brews from the 70's. It tasted of corn, and grass, with a little bit of hops thrown in. This would be a good lawnmower beer. It went fine with my pasta. Nothing offensive, but nothing to write home about either.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Belhaven Scottish Ale

Tonight, I sampled another beer from World Market's "Beers of the World" selection. Belhaven's Ale is a good example of a Scottish Ale, with a nice malty backbone, and touch of smokiness from Peat smoked malt. It poured a beautiful amber gold, with a creamy head that lasted longer than most. I like malty beers, and this was right up my alley. I made a Scottish Ale of my own about a year ago, which was one of my favorite homebrews. Belhaven also makes a great Wee Heavy - sweeter, more malty, and with more alcohol than this one.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dogfish Head 120 Minute Imperial IPA

At $8.00 for a 12 oz bottle, Dogfish Head's 120 Minute Imperial IPA is a rare treat - at least in this house. Dogfish Head is one of my favorite breweries, which is why I splurged on this bottle over a year ago, saving it for a special occasion. It poured a beautiful honey color, with a small white head. I don't think I would describe this as a typical IPA. It's hoppy, to be sure, but it's very sweet, with an alcohol content somewhere upwards of 15%. I found it to be somewhat syruppy, and is certainly over the top. This is a beer for after dinner, an aperetif, or nightcap. It is definitely designed to be enjoyed all by itself, with no other distractions like food. In my book, Dogfish Head can do no wrong, but I do think I prefer the 90 Minute IPA over this one. The 60 Minute is excellent also!