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.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Gilded Otter Brewing Co. - New Paltz, NY

During my recent vacation, I spent some time in my old stomping ground in the Hudson Valley of New York. The Hudson Valley extends from upstate NY down to NY City. My wife and I still have family in that area, so we drove up to spend some time with them, and to have a little quiet time to ourselves. We had heard about the Gilded Otter Brewing Co. - a brewpub in the artsy little college town of New Paltz, NY, and since it was only about an hour drive from where we were staying, we decided to try it for lunch. We started with a sampler of the 8 brews that they currently had on tap. They brought out eight 3-oz glasses, which we shared. Our favorites were Ottertoberfest, Stone House Irish Stout, Dusseldorf Altbier, and Rail Trail Pale Ale. The other 4 were also excellent. We were both in the mood for a burger, because nothing goes better with beer than a good burger. I ordered mine medium rare, while my wife wanted medium well. Both burgers were cooked precisely the way they were ordered, and they were juicy and tasty. They came with some seasoned french fries that were also excellent - crispy on the outside, moist in the middle. The server was very attentive and helpful. All told, we had a very pleasing experience at the Gilded Otter. If you ever find yourself in New Paltz, NY, it is definitely worth checking out. I even got a new pint glass to add to my collection.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Saranac Pumpkin Ale and Octoberfest Lager

I'm on vacation this week, but I have a short lull, so I decided to post. I visited family earlier in the week, stopping at my sister's house for a day. She came through with some seasonal varieties of Saranac that I had not tasted before. First up was their Pumpkin Ale, with the clever jack-o-lantern label. This pumpkin ale reminded me of the Blue Moon version I tried a little while ago. It was kinda subdued as far as spices were concerned. I could taste some pumpkin, but I like my pumpkin ales to taste more like pumpkin pie in a bottle. The second bottle I tried was their Octoberfest Lager. This was a sweet malty Octoberfest - very tasty. It had some caramel flavor, and low hop levels. The glass in the picture contains Octoberfest. The two beers were very similar in color, a medium amber. The pumpkin had a slightly larger head than the Octoberfest, but neither one lasted very long. My sis also supplied me with some Saranac to take home with me including their Black Diamond Bock, which I'm looking forward to. More to follow on that one!

On Vacation!

I haven't posted in a while because I'm out of town on vacation. I'll be back in the swing of things next week.