Friday, May 30, 2008

Lagunitas Brewing "Censored" Rich Copper Ale

I don't know how to pronounce their name, and I don't "get" the names of their beers, but I really like the Lagunitas Brewing company. Their beer is always flavorful and interesting. And then there's the Frank Zappa thing they have going on some of their labels. Zappa was a musical genius, but I would not expect him to be honored on a beer label. This beer is called "Censored" Rich Copper Ale and copper is the color of the ale when poured. Once again, the head was there, and then almost immediately gone. This is a malty brew with plenty of nice West Coast grapefruity hops. The hops balanced the beer nicely. I have tried a number of beers from this brewery, and have never been disappointed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Florida Brewing's Hurricane Reef Raspberry Wheat Ale

Forida Brewing is one of the few microbrewers in this beer wasteland of Florida. I've tried a number of their beers, and they have been ok - nothing to brag about, but quite drinkable. This Raspberry Wheat Ale follows in that tradition. It poured a kinda orange-amber, with no head at all. What's up with that? A wheat beer should have lots of head. As a homebrewer, I know that some brewers add some wheat to their brews, simply for that reason. This was a very fruity wheat with lots of raspberry flavor. The raspberry was more pronounced than in Abita's Purple Haze, but I think the Purple Haze tasted a little more authentic. This was good, with a nice hop finish.

Beck's Premier Light - only 64 calories!!

I don't care for light beers - bottled water is cheaper. But - when I saw that Beck's Premier Light had only 64 calories, I had to see what it was like. Well... it looked like cheap Ginger ale - very pale, no head. It was very well-carbonated. It had almost no flavor. Enough said.

Sea Dog Riverdriver Hazelnut Porter

Portland Maine is the home of Pugsley Brewing, which creates the Sea Dog family of beers. Mr. Pugsley is also the brewmaster at Shipyard. Sea Dog Riverdriver Hazelnut Porter is the first non-wheat beer that I have tried from Sea Dog. As you can see in the photo, it poured a very dark brown with a tan head. The head lasted longer than most of my recent beers. The hazelnut was not overpowering, and the chocolate malt shined through. In an earlier post, I mentioned one of my homebrews that went astray, and it was a hazelnut brown ale. The hazelnut in my brew was overly strong, and gave the beer an unpleasant bitter edge. Now I know what a hazelnut ale should taste like.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Carlsberg Elephant

Carlsberg Elephant is from Copenhagen, Denmark and is classified as a Malt Liquor on the bottle. That's the classification of any imported beer or ale that is higher in alcohol than the standard 4-4.5% abv. It's actually a European Strong Lager and has an alcohol content that's over 7%. It's a smooth beer with lots of malt flavor, and slightly sweet. It poured a deep gold color with a cream-colored head. The head disappeared rather quickly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bell's Oberon Ale - American Wheat

This is one of the better American wheat ales that I have tried. It pours a very cloudy golden color with a large fluffy white head. If you're not accustomed to a cloudy wheat beer, this one might surprise you with the amount of "stuff" floating around. It looks down-right chunky. It has a fruity flavor - mostly citrus - and a nice hop presence. This is an excellent summer beer - very refreshing and light.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hofbrau Munchen Maibock

Hofbrau's Maibock poured a deep orange color with a pale orange head that held up for a while. This was a malty brew, a little on the sweet side, with very little evidence of hops. It went well with my burger.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gritty McDuff's Original Pub Style Pale Ale

Gritty McDuff's Original Pub Style Pale Ale is brewed in Portland Maine. The Northeast part of the US is a brewing powerhouse, and equals the Northwest in quality and style. This particular ale is very refreshing. It poured a beautiful clear amber, with a decent head that lasted for a short while. It had plenty of pine flavored hop presence. This was my first sample of a brew from Gritty McDuff's, and I will be looking for more varieties in the near future.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kelpie Seaweed Ale

This ale surprised me. I was expecting a much lighter-colored ale, but this looks like a stout - deep brown to almost black, with ruby highlights. It had a nice fluffy beige head. I don't taste anything seaweed-like. It tastes pretty much like a mild, watery stout - roasty with chocolate malt. It went fine with my chicken. Kelpie Seaweed Ale is from Heather Ale, LLC in Scotland.

Sleeman IPA 46

This IPA is another offering from the Sleeman Brewing assortment I picked up a few weeks ago. Since yesterday was a pizza day, I decided to try the IPA. This is a very subdued IPA, with less hop presence than a Sam Adams Boston Lager. Maybe that's the way they make IPA's in Canada, I don't know. I tried an Alexander Keith's IPA when I was in Newfoundland last year, and it was less hoppy than this one. I know that a traditional English IPA is less hoppy than the American variety, so I guess we just kick things up a notch here in the USA. If you're used to Dogfish Head IPA's or Victory's Hop Devil, or some of the other great American IPA's, this might be found lacking. I still enjoyed it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iron City Lager

I saw this beer in the liquor store and recognized it as another beer mentioned by Stephen king in one of his books - this time it's in Christine, which I happen to be reading right now. Iron City is brewed in Pittsburgh, in case you hadn't guessed. It looked like a typical golden lager, and tasted like a typical golden lager. Like the Naragansett, this is old school beer. It was refreshing, and enjoyable, just not very interesting. Went fine with my fish tacos.

Guinness Stout Ice Cream Float

If Miller High Life is the "Champagne of Bottled Beers", then Guinness Draught is the Milkshake of bottled beers. I have not found a beer with a creamier texture than the Guinness bottle or can with the nitrogen filled widget in it. It's just like drinking Guinness from a keg. With that being said, I decided to try something I have been thinking about for a while - a Guinness Stout ice cream float. My family looked at me like I was nuts - ruining perfectly good ice cream by pouring beer (ugh) over it. People do it with coffee all the time, which is just another dark bitter drink, so why not Guinness? So I tried it. It didn't turn out as I expected. It seemed that the two flavors just didn't meld together like I suspected they would. The beer still tasted like Guinness, and the ice cream still tasted like vanilla. Hmm - not bad, just not exciting. So, it's back to the drawing board, looking for a beer-inspired dessert.

Jenlain Blonde - Golden Ale from France

I believe this is the first French beer I have ever had. I'm sure the French can make some good beers, but they seem to be more well-known for their wine. Wine goes better with their reputation too. This is Jenlain Blonde, which poured a nice golden honey color with a big fluffy white head, that disippated rapidly. The brew was very carbonated. It tasted to me like a Belgian blonde ale, but since France and Belgium are so close in proximity, I guess that shouldn't surprise me. I enjoyed my first French beer, but it seemed like a matter of "been there, done that" - when compared to a Belgian.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lakefront Brewery Fuel Cafe Stout

I got this beer in a variety pack of 8 different beers created by Lakefront Brewery. Fuel Cafe Stout is a stout brewed with coffee. It was originally brewed for the Fuel Cafe, a coffee/sandwich shop in Milwaukee. It poured nearly black, with no discernible head. One thing that surprised me was the yeast sediment I found in the bottom of my glass. Being a homebrewer, it didn't bother me, but I didn't expect it in a commercial brew that wasn't advertised as "bottle-conditioned". One of the problems associated with making beer with coffee is that the oils in the coffee beans tend to kill head production. That was definitely true here. I enjoyed the stout, although I felt it was more like a Robust Porter than a stout. It just wasn't chewy enough to be a stout. The coffee showed through nicely, and it went well with my meatloaf.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Awesome Beer Bread!

Here's a beer bread recipe that is guaranteed to be a hit! I have made this bread with cheap light beer, dark stouts, malt liquor, and even some Mead, and it always turns out moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. This rarely lasts beyond one meal. I like to make it kinda sweet, but you can adjust the amount of sugar to your preference. It would also be good without sugar, with some savory ingredients like cheese or garlic. It's incredibly easy to make, and takes about 5 minutes to get it ready for the oven.

Here's the recipe:
3 cups flour (white, whole wheat, or a mixture)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (more or less, depending on your preference)
12 oz beer, mead, or wine
1/4 cup melted butter.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients, then add beer
Pour into a greased bread pan
Pour melted butter over the top
Bake for an hour, then let cool on a rack.

The bread is very crispy on the outside, dense and moist inside. We've experimented using whole wheat flour, and it turned out great. Darker beers add some interesting variety also. It's even good toasted, if it lasts long enough to cool off. It's difficult to ruin this bread - but here's a warning to fellow homebrwewers - a lousy homebrew will not make a good beer bread. I tried it with one of my less than successful experiments - a sweet stout with a nasty bitter edge - and the bitterness came through. It was the only loaf that didn't get finished.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Spaten Optimator

This seems to be the month of Doppelbocks for me. This one's from Germany, from Spaten. The clear mahogany colored brew was topped by a creamy light brown head. This one is 7.2% abv, compared to the 8.2% found in the Tommyknocker beer I reviewed a short time ago. This one was a bit sweeter than the Tommyknocker, with a bit less of an alcohol bite. This one was just smoother all around, with lots of malt flavor.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter

Finally, a beer with a great big creamy head! In fact, I had to stop pouring to keep it from overflowing the glass. This is another fine beer from Boston Beer Co. - Samuel Adams Honey Porter. This is in the style of a Robust Porter - deep brown, and real roasty. It had a faint scent of honey, but most of the flavor was roasted and chocolate malt. I have never been disappointed by a Samuel Adams brew, and this just continues the trend of great, flavorful beers. This bottle came from a Brewmaster's assortment 6 pack, along with two other varieties.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fraoch Heather Ale of Scotland

This beer came from a 4 pack of "Historic Ales from Scotland". It is brewed from malt and Heather flowers. The heather is used in place of hops, making for a very smooth mild-flavored ale. It poured a beautiful honey colored gold, with a small white head. It has a nice malt body, with a floral note to it. It reminds me of a dry mead. If this was a little easier on the wallet, I could see myself drinking this pretty frequently during the warmer months. Here's hoping the other selections in the 4 pack are as impressive as this one.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock Lager

Today, I tried my first brew from the Tommyknocker Brewery in Colorado. Butt Head Doppelbock Lager is a malty brew, deep amber in color, with a small white head that disappearred very quickly. The beer poured a little cloudy, due to what looked like chill haze. It was very tasty - very malty, which you know I prefer. It was a little sweet, and had an alcohol finish. According to the brewery, it has an alcohol level of 8.2%, which is significant. I enjoyed my first Tommyknocker sampling, and I look forward to some more in the near future.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Yuengling Original Black & Tan

From "America's Oldest Brewery" comes the "Original" Black & Tan. A Black & Tan is a combination of a dark beer and a light beer in a single glass. The most traditional one is a Bass Ale and Guinness Stout combination. When ordered in a pub, a good black and tan will show up at the table in two layers - dark on the top and light on the bottom. That's pretty difficult to do in a bottle. Yuengling's black and tan is a combo of their Porter and their traditional lager. It's roasty like a Porter, but has a mellower flavor from the light lager. This went nice with my beef stew, but I prefer a real Porter or stout; or a real Black & Tan for that matter. I really like Yuengling's Porter, but it seems impossible to find here in Florida - which is odd since they have a brewery in Tampa.