Friday, 29 September 2006

Review: Anchor Liberty Ale

Anchor Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Appearance: Pale amber in color, good head with some lacing.

Smell: Crisp smelling, good hint of hops.

Taste: Lighter on the hops than many APA's, but it works very nicely.

Mouthfeel &
Drinkability: Crisp, with a light body. Good mouthfeel. Drinkability is high. Good session beer.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-29-2006 02:21:30

Review: Fuller's London Porter

Fuller's London Porter from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Rating: B+

Appearance: Mahogany brown in the glass, good head and lacing.

Smell: Molasses and brown sugar in the nose. I had a bad experience with an awful molasses-y beer recently, but the brown sugar is alluring.

Taste: Good bit of molasses flavor, with a distinct mocha finish. Very little in the way of hops character.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability: Mouthfeel is a little on the rich side. Drinkability is limited for the same reason. I liked it, but I have to call it overrated.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-29-2006 02:16:24

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Review: Hopsickle Imperial India Pale Ale

Hopsickle Imperial India Pale Ale from Moylan's Brewery
Rating: A-

Thanks to intriqken for sending me this one in a trade.

Appearance: A very nice looking beer, the color is a peach-tinted orange, clear, with a nice head and lacing.

Smell: As soon as the first drop hits the bottom of the glass, the aroma permeates the room. Lots of citrusy hops characfter in this one (the label cites Cascade and Centennial), but there's also an underlying DIPA malt sweetness.

Taste: Hop character isn't *quite* as strong as I anticipated it to be, given the aroma, but still very tasty. The middle is sweet and juicy, exactly the kind of malt profile you expect in a DIPA. Didn't improve with warming up in my hand. The sweetness was a little much, but the nice finish makes up for it.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability: Slightly syrupy, good carbonation. Drinkability is good, but not exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-26-2006 13:44:04

Monday, 25 September 2006

Review: Raison D'etre

Raison D'etre from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Rating: B

Appearance: Smaller than expected head that disappeared rapidly. Just on the red side of cola in the color.

Smell: Raisin and caramel malts, with some alcohol presence. Not the distinctive Belgian yeast aroma that I was expecting.

Taste: There's a lot going on, on the palate, but whether there's a rhyme or reason to it isn't clear. Caramel/toffee at the front, Belgian sugar in the middle. A hint of raisin throughout, but not the same dark fruitiness that I expect in the style. Finishes dry, despite the sweet-ish flavors that predominate. Good for what it is, but not as Belgian-tasting as I had expected.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation on the low side.

Drinkability: Goes down surprisingly well for the alcohol content. As another reviewer put it, this is definitely an "off-centred ale." I kind of wish I'd gotten a single instead of a sixer, though.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-25-2006 22:58:06

Review: Hurricane Reef Pale Ale

Hurricane Reef Pale Ale from Florida Beer Company
Rating: B

Apearance: Orange amber color with a smallish white head that exhibits nice lacing. Carbonation seems to fade quickly.

Smell: Fairly mild aroma, maybe it needs to warm up... Even after warming, there's just not much there.

Taste: Crisp fruit flavors, very clean. Somewhat soapy. Hops are understated for an APA. Finishes dry.

Mouthfeel: Crisp is definitely the word. Body is on the lighter side.

Drinkability: Not great, but at least it's local. Might be a good beer to cook with.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-25-2006 19:27:11

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Review: Stone Smoked Porter

Stone Smoked Porter from Stone Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Thanks to intriqken for the opportunity to try this one.

Appearance: very dark, small tan head with good retention, some lacing.

Smell: more roasty/malty than smoky, but the smoke is definitely present. Not overwhelming, subtle.

Taste: Not as subtle as the smell, but it still works nicely. Smoke is up front on the palate, but the finish is all chocolate malt. Interesting, because I would have expected smoke to show up more in the finish/aftertaste than chocolate flavors. Enough hops to balance, but their flavor doesn't come through. With it finishing on a chocolate note instead of smoke, it's easy to forget this is a smoked beer.

Mouthfeel: Thick but creamy, very nice. Smooth.

Drinkability: Good.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-21-2006 18:36:31

Review: Laurentina Clara

Laurentina Clara from Cervejas De Moçambique
Rating: C-

Appearance: Pale gold, moderate head, no lace, very average looking

Smell: Very corn-smelling, with some hops in the background.

Taste: More bitter than I expected (granted, expectatins were low) but the corn flavor is very much apparent.

Mouthfeel: Watery, aftertaste is weird but hard to place - vaguely adjunct-y.

Drinkability: Just one of the many indistinguishable macro lagers that make up the bulk of available African beers. I'd still say it's better than Castle, but that might be partly due to this being my first beer from Mozambique!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-21-2006 13:21:11

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Review: Imperial Stout

Imperial Stout from Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the Bay
Rating: A

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle dated 2002. Jet black, with garnet highlights when held up against the light. Small head without much retention, but some lacing. Aroma has lots of dark fruit, chocolate and some hops. Taste is much the same. A very well-made beer. Alcohol is present, but there's enough flavor going on that it doesn't dominate. Full bodied, appropriately carbonated. Drank it slow, but because it could be savored. Good drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-14-2006 03:32:50

Review: Chicory Stout

Chicory Stout from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Rating: B

I found this one fairly disappointing, having enjoyed so many of the other Dogfish Head beers that I've tried. Appearance is jet-black, with a one-finger head that is anything than the "bone white" described on the label - definitely more tan in color. Some lacing. Smell was weak at first, but improved as it warmed: roasted coffee, chocolate, and a hint of smoke. Taste is predominantly roasty, little in the way of hop character, with a distinctly smoky character that a friend said reminded him of bacon - not a descriptor you often hear for beer! As for mouthfeel, full body and good carb for style. Drinkability was moderate.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-14-2006 03:26:40

Review: Old Crustacean

Old Crustacean from Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the Bay
Rating: B+

Four years old at sampling, but still quite an intense beer here. Color is garnet, with decent head but little lacing - we'll blame that on the high alcohol content. Smell is quintissentially barleywine: lots of dark fruit, hops, alcohol, and sweet malts. Taste is very similar, but with a certain harshness in the finish, could be from roasted malt or perhaps from the hops (120 IBU's!). Smells better than it tastes, I think. Mouthfeel is smooth but syrupy, good carbonation for the style. Drinkability isn't great - harsh finish and high alcohol make this a special occasion beer, and I think I prefer Bigfoot, regardless.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-14-2006 03:21:38

Review: Pumpkinhead Ale

Pumpkinhead Ale from Shipyard Brewing Co.
Rating: C+

Appearance is very light orange in color, head and lacing aren't impressive. Smell promises pumpkin, ginger and spice, with some hops in the background. The first sip's taste is very much the same profile: mild pumpkin, ginger, and nutmeg dominant. No hops flavor to speak of, bitterness low. After you get through about half the bottle, you adapt to the spiciness and it just tastes like light beer. Mouthfeel is thin and highly carbonated. As for drinkability, I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit for the first few sips, but it got more and more insipid as I drank.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-14-2006 03:16:21

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Review: Shakespeare Stout

Shakespeare Stout from Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the Bay
Rating: A

Split this bottle with my dad tonight before dinner.

Appearance: Pours an opaque dark brown/black, with a head that's surprisingly light in color. Nice looking head, good retention, some lacing.

Smell: A very nice smelling beer. Lots of complexity here. Cocoa, roast, coffee, and some earthy hops in the background.

Taste: Much like it smells, although not quite as good I don't think. I think I'm starting to get a feel for what Pacman yeast tastes like, and this is quintissentially, Rogue. Aftertaste has a good bit of bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, good carbonation. Nice.

Drinkability: A well-balanced American stout. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-12-2006 00:16:02

Review: Hoptoberfest

Hoptoberfest from Hops Grillhouse & Brewery
Rating: B-

I should note that I spoke with the new brewer at the location, and he indicated that the beers currently on tap were not "up to spec" and he was replacing the old brewer fr that reason.

Appearance: Much lighter in color than I'd expect from an Octoberfest. More golden than anything else. Very small head, but that may be due to the pour.

Smell: Very little in the way of aroma. Some malt presence as you'd expect, but very mild.

Taste: Crisp, but very mild.
Taste: Some caramel and toast flavors present, very mild hops. Very light in the flavor department, disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Light body, good carbonation.

Drinkability: Easy-drinking, but not something I'll order again.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 09-12-2006 00:04:39

Review: Alligator Ale

Alligator Ale from Hops Grillhouse & Brewery
Rating: B-

The brewer described this, so that's what I'm listing it as, even though the corporate list has it categorized as an English Brown Ale. I should note that I spoke with the new brewer at the location, and he indicated that the beers currently on tap were not "up to spec" and he was replacing the old brewer fr that reason.

Appearance: Dark brown with ruby highlights, little in the way of head or lacing, but that might be due to the pour.

Smell: Coffee and caramel aroma.

Taste: Cola (caramel, I suppose), coffee, and a chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: surprisingly light, too light for a porter. Carbonation is good.

Drinkability: It's light in flavor, but clearly intentionally so, accessibility being an important consideration for this kind of brewpub. I had this and the Hoptoberfest, and I preferred the Alligator.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 09-11-2006 23:57:57

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Review: Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock

Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock from Kulmbacher Brauerei AG
Rating: B-

Sampled at Stubbie in Gainesville, my first eisbock.

Appearance: Very dark in the glass, with some purple highlights. Moderate head without much retention or lacing.

Smell: Alcohol and malt, obviously, but there's something else there that's a bit weird. A friend described it as "fishy," but "oily" might be a better descriptor. Dark fruit and caramel in the background.

Taste: No attempt to conceal alcohol, although I suppose that should be expected in this style. Malty, caramel, but also with lots more dark fruit than I would expect coming from lager yeast.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, and a slick mouthfeel.

Drinkability: It took me a while to put this one down, I don't know if it's the style or this one in particular, but I wasn't a big fan.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-10-2006 15:21:58

Review: Punkin' Ale

Punkin' Ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Rating: B

I bottled my homebrew pumpkin ale the same day that I tried this, so I was very curious to see how the sample I had at bottling time compared with this, the first commercial pumpkin beer I've tried.

Appearance: Pours a fairly orange color, clearer than I expected (much clearer than my homebrew pumpkin ale, anyway). Minor white head and lacing.

Smell: Acidic-smelling, if that makes sense, pumpkin and spice are present.

Taste: The flavor profile is surprisingly similar to what I had earlier in the day, which is obviously pleasing. Pumpkin is there, but not in an in-your-face pumpkin pie kind of way. Spices are more present than hops, which are scarcely detectable as far as flavor goes, but balance the sweetness well.

Mouthfeel: light body, good carbonation. I'd like to try a thick pumpkin beer sometime, that's a bit more like "pumpkin pie in a glass"

Drinkability: It's obviously not an every-day beer, but for an off-beat beer it's pretty accessible and there's enough complexity to appeal to serious beer drinkers, as well.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-10-2006 15:14:56

Saturday, 9 September 2006

Review: Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale

Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale from Heather Ale Ltd. / The Brewery Craigmill
Rating: B+

Appearance: Very dark russet brown in appearance with a nice two-finger head. Surprisingly rocky head, good retention, and minor lacing.

Smell: Malty aroma, with some oats and a dark, fruity sweetness in the background.

Taste: Surprisingly roasty, which for me at least became the dominant flavor, with the berries in the background. Finishes dry. Reminiscent of a porter, with bitter chocolate and a touch of coffee flavor present. Woody, tannic aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Rather slick, carbonation seems right.

Drinkability: This is my favorite of the pack so far (only the Alba remains). I'd buy this again, if it was available on its own. I did think the elderberry would be more prominent, though.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-08-2006 23:25:53

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Review: St. Bernardus Abt 12

St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Rating: A

Appearance: Dark, ruddy brown. It had been sitting in my fridge long enough that it was fairly clear. Big head that lasted forever, with beautiful lacing. Exceptional.

Smell: Bubble gum, dark fruit, earthy grassiness, and alcohol.

Taste: Dark fruit, bubble gum. Alcohol better covered in the taste than it is in the aroma. Doesn't finish too sweet. Very good.

Mouthfeel: Silky mouthfeel, good carbonation.

Drinkability: High! I wish I hadn't split this 750 ml bottle four-ways, and saved it all for me instead. Goes down very easy for 10% abv. Drank this while brewing - next time I'll try it when I'm not so busy and enjoy it a bit more.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-07-2006 02:42:13

Monday, 4 September 2006

Review: Fraoch Heather Ale

Fraoch Heather Ale from Heather Ale Ltd. / The Brewery Craigmill
Rating: B+

Appearance: pours a very pretty golden honey color, with a small head. Nothing great about retention or lacing.

Smell: Floral, with some sweet caramel and a smoky earthiness which at first I thought was left over from barbecueing yesterday. I wish I had a better idea of what heather smells like so I could look for it here, but it's not jumping right out at me.

Taste: Crisp, floral (I don't make a habit of eating flowers, but if I did I'm sure this is what heather would taste like). Some herbal character as well, that binds it together with an earthy malt base. Finishes dry. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, carbonation is a bit high but I think it works well for what this beer is - very crisp!

Drinkability: High, I like this one quite a bit.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-04-2006 18:30:11

Saturday, 2 September 2006

Review: Titan IPA

Titan IPA from Great Divide Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Had this one at Stubbie in Gainesville.

Appearance is fairly typical of an IPA, orangey color with good head. Some lacing. Smell is of fresh hops on top of a malt base, as you'd expect. For whatever reason, I found this to be maltier-tasting than the Hercules, surprising because this is the AIPA while Hercules is the DIPA. It's all about balance, I suppose, and I think Hercules struck it better. Not that this wasn't good, mind you. Good mouthfeel and carbonation, drinkability is good as well, although not as good as the Hercules.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-02-2006 06:44:49

Review: Hercules Double IPA

Hercules Double IPA from Great Divide Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Had this one at Stubbie in Gainesville.

Typical color for a DIPA, kind of a dark orange. Decent head, with good retention. Smell is massive hops, with a sweet malt base. Taste is juicy hops, straight up. Malt is present, but in the background. For a double IPA, I found this one to strike the right balance. A better balanced brew than DFH 90 min, I think. Mouthfeel is somewhat lighter than some DIPA's, but still medium bodied. Good carbonation. As far as drinkability, I drank it somewhat slow, but because I wanted to savor it and I was paying for it, not because it wasn't highly drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-02-2006 06:40:12

Friday, 1 September 2006

Review: Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Samuel Adams Octoberfest from Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Rating: B

Appearance: Nice looking beer, hard to determine whether it's more red or orange in the glass, very clear. Decent head, but lackluster retention and lacing. I find the color striking.

Smell: Some malt and nutmeg aromas, but fairly clean as a lager, with some noble hops in the background.

Taste: At first my friend and I were surprised at how little flavor we were getting out of this one. It tasted almost watery - after warming in the glass for a bit, though, flavor finally started to come out and continued to improve down to the bottom of the glass. Definitely don't serve this one at refrigerator temperatures. Malt is the big stand out, of course, with some earthiness, and a very clean finish. Somewhat toasty, with enough hops to balance the malts.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light mouthfeel, good carbonation.

Drinkability: Pretty high, but not my favorite of the Sam Adams lineup. Didn't meet my expectations, at least.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-01-2006 04:11:53