Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Review: Spaten Optimator

Spaten Optimator from Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu
Rating: B+

First beer I've had at Hogan's in Gainesville - I'd never realized there was another beer bar aside from Stubbie's.

Appearance: Dark, but light comes through with a distinctly red hue. Decent head and retention but little lacing.

Smell: Malt and dark fruit predominate the aroma.

Taste: Nice and malty. On the sweeter side, but not cloying. Good bit of dark fruit for a lager, Cocoa at the finish. Wouldn't have guessed this was 7.2% at all. Little in the way of hops.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, well-carbonated.

Drinkability: No complaints here.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-30-2007 03:56:55

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Review: Chipotle Ale

Chipotle Ale from Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the Bay
Rating: B-

Split the bomber bottle with my dad while watching college basketball.

Appearance: Fairly clear brown and golden in color. Good head, but exhibiting poor retention, no lacing - maybe due to the oils in the peppers? Or the fact I was pouring into two glasses rather than one and poured slowly...

Smell: Vaguely "sharp" but hard to place the source of the aroma - so presumably the chiles. Some malt with a slight hint of smoke.

Taste: The chipotle winds up being a background flavor. Maybe just because I really like spicy food, I didn't really find this hot enough. Neither the heat nor the smoke that I expect from something with the name "chipotle" come through very well. There's definitely a "bite" but it doesn't come off clearly enough to be recognizable if you didn't know what you were supposed to be drinking.

Mouthfeel: Body and carbonation are fine. I didn't find the aftertaste as objectionable as some have.

Drinkability: I wouldn't have wanted any more of this. I would like to try it mixed with Rogue's chocolate stout, however, I've heard it's a good combination.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-28-2007 18:03:07

Review: Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, The
Rating: A-

Recently had another Baltic Porter that I really liked, so I was excited to try this one. Received in the first package of No Name BIF from ipa2xs - thanks!

Appearance: Pours inky black, completely opaque. "That's not beer, it's mud" said my father. Khaki-colored head that was somewhat limited due to pouring into two glasses and (presumably) the alcohol content. Fair amounts of lacing.

Smell: Mochaccino kind of aroma, surprisingly sweet-smelling. No hints of burnt graint, just nice roast. Hints of dark fruit, but in the background. I'm searching for smoke and don't find any in the nose...

Taste: Lots of chocolate and roast flavors. Not as much coffee as in some porters. Cherries? Just the slightest hint of smoke at the swallow.

Mouthfeel: Deliciously thick, rich and creamy. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: Exceptional for so dark and rich of a beer. Thanks again, ipa2xs!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-28-2007 17:37:09

Review: Tucher Kristall Weizen

Tucher Kristall Weizen from Brauerei Tucher Brau
Rating: B

Appearance: Stunningly clear, pale gold color. Good head and exceptional lacing.

Smell: Hefe-weizen like aromas, as expected. Banana, cloves, bubble gum. Definitely toned down a bit from the filtering, however.

Taste: Not expecting a whole lot of flavor just judging from the appearance (very clear and light). There is flavor, however - like a hefeweizen, but more subdued. A hint of tartness as well, reminiscent of cider.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light, almost watery. Carbonation is fine. I wasn't the only one to comment on the too light mouthfeel when sampling.

Drinkability: On the whole, I think I prefer Erdinger's kristal weizen. Accessible, for sure. A touch disappointing, though maybe I'm just not a fan of the style.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-28-2007 17:27:20

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Review: Burton Baton

Burton Baton from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Rating: A-

Appearance: Very attractive brilliant orange/red color, sparklingly clear for a bottle conditioned beer. Decent head, off-white, retention is okay. Lacing is less than impressive, perhaps due to the 10% abv.

Smell: Very reminiscent of DFH 90 minute IPA. Same malt/hop profile, but perhaps a little bit more mellow and complex. A hint of oak poking through. Very nice.

Taste: Surprisingly sweet at the front of the palate - too sweet, I think. Some citrusy fruit follows... Definitely some honey, along with the hops bitterness. Not as much oak as I was expecting - I'd have liked to try this before it was blended. Aftertaste reminds me of cream soda - maybe it's the vanilla from the oak coming through. In some ways barleywine-like.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, creamy. Well-carbonated. Good!

Drinkability: I just wish it wasn't so sweet... Limits drinkability for me, personally, but I enjoyed all that I had.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-25-2007 23:29:05

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Review: Obolon Porter

Obolon Porter from Obolon Brewery
Rating: B+

Presentation: Green bottle with "Produced in Ukraine" prominently displayed - the reason I bought it, I've never had a beer from Ukraine before... Nice cap.

Appearance: Dark brown, with a definite reddish hue. Clear, good head with good retention, and leaving some lacing on the side.

Smell: A strong brown sugar aroma predominates, with roast malt, dark fruit, and coffee undertones. Light on chocolate and caramel.

Taste: Finishes smoky. Not overwhelmingly caramely, which I kind of appreciate - too many brewpub porters wind up tasting like coca cola - maybe it's the smoke that balances that here. Finish isn't overly sweet. I had no idea it was 7% until I looked...

Mouthfeel: A bit thinner than I expected, could use some more body. Carbonation seems perfect.

Drinkability: This is drinkable beer. The smoke shows up nicely in the finish, but doesn't stick around through the aftertaste. Enjoyable beer, better than I expected it to be, although not having had another baltic porter I'm not quite sure what to expect. Went down very easy, but that might be partly a function of the long day I ended with it...

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-24-2007 00:57:16

Monday, 22 January 2007

Review: Lindemans Gueuze

Lindemans Gueuze from Brouwerij Lindemans
Rating: B+

Appearance: Honey in color, nice white two finger head that has decent retention but leaves behind not much in the way of lacing - maybe my glass was still wet from washing when I poured. Attractive color.

Smell: Slightly sweet, slightly sour smelling... A bit worrying, I'm not a big fan of the super-sweet lambics I've had so far. Not much in the way of hops or malt character, but a hint of barnyard saison-like funk.

Taste: Sweet at the tip of the palate, but quickly supplanted by sourness and bitterness. Brett character at the finish that definitely reminds of Orval. Hops just for bittering (and perhaps preservative!), not for flavor. Finishes dry, which I appreciate.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light. Well-carbonated.

Drinkability: I was a bit nervous, as this is the first gueuze I've had. Much more drinkable than the other lambics I've had. I'll have to explore this style in more depth when the opportunity arises... I'm sure there are better ones out there, but this served as a good introduction for me and left me with a favorable impression of the style.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-22-2007 03:04:11

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Review: Baltika #4 Original (Dark)

Baltika #4 Original (Dark) from Pivzavod Baltika / Baltic Beverages Holding
Rating: B-

Appearance: Kind of dark/ruddy leather in color, with a nice two finger head with good retention. Attractive looking beer, head clings to the glass.

Smell: Smells a bit like Aventinus, caramel malts and a bit of dark fruit, but lagery clean too.

Taste: Lots of sweet malt flavor, and some dark fruitiness (raisins?). A little bit reminiscent of raison d'etre in that point... Hints of toast and brown sugar as well, right before the swallow. Does seem a tad watered-down, especially in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: A little slick, finishes a bit watery. Carbonation is just about right.

Drinkability: I would have preferred to share this bottle. Glad I've had my first Russian beer, though. Won't seek this one out, though.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-21-2007 02:36:01

Friday, 19 January 2007

Review: Rare Vos (Amber Ale)

Rare Vos (Amber Ale) from Brewery Ommegang
Rating: B

Served at Stubbie in Gainesville from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Much lighter in color than I expected, this doesn't seem to be a "dark ale" at all. Perhaps a bit darker than your typical Belgian Pale Ale, but not by much. Now I don't know what to expect... Amber in color, good head. Some lacing.

Smell: Again, much lighter than I'd expect. I though I might be mistaken, so I had a friend smell as well. Very light in the aroma department, with some mild belgian yeast character and perhaps a hint of spice.

Taste: I'm starting to wonder if I got a bad or mislabeled bottle, somehow. Again, the flavor profile is much ligher than I'd expect from a Belgian Dark Ale. Reminds me much more of a Belgian Pale, not the dark fruit and candi sugar of a Dark...

Mouthfeel: Nice and crisp, good. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: Odd, drinkability is good but the beer is not what I was expecting, at all.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-19-2007 16:14:40

Review: Red Head Red Ale

Red Head Red Ale from Dunedin Brewery
Rating: B-

Appearance: Massively carbonated, but after the last Dunedin beer I poured from a bottle I knew to be careful with this one. A pour down the side still yields a four finger head, with plenty of beer still left in the bottle. Beer itself is an attractive ruddy amber in color. Slightly off-white head that promises good retention.
Smell is predominantly malty, with bready notes predominating. Some caramel.

Taste: Bread, caramel and slight toast. Hops show up just as a bitter balance to the malt, with little in the way of hops flavor standing out. Finishes on a slightly astringent note, reminiscent of some cheap pilsners. A bit surprised to see East Kent Goldings listed as a hop used, I don't taste it at all.

Mouthfeel: Massively carbonated, distractingly so. Otherwise fine.

Drinkability: Not bad, I'd drink this again but given the choice I'd probably pick their Pale Ale. I can't understand why Dunedin sends their beers out so highly carbonated!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-19-2007 01:47:27

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Review: Dunedin Apricot Peach Ale

Dunedin Apricot Peach Ale from Dunedin Brewery
Rating: B-

This one has been sitting in my apartment for a while now. Decided to try it today because I got a batch of carambola (star fruit) wine started yesterday, and it reminded me of the bottle sitting in the corner... Should be noted that the bottle I have looks completely different from the one shown in the picture.

Appearance: Holy cow, maybe the most carbonated beer I've ever had to pour. Ridiculous - I poured fairly carefully, and there was maybe an inch of beer in the pint glass, and the rest was all foam. After settling down, it expanded to maybe 2.5 inches, and I was able to pour in some more beer. Pale peach (surprise!) in color, champagne like carbonation - copious amounts of bubbles streaming up from the bottom. Rocky white head. Pretty attractive beer, really, but be warned when you're pouring!

Smell: Initially a little offputting. Peach is very present, with some sour apricot and believe it or not a bit of hops. Juicy smelling.

Taste: Slightly sour, very light - almost reminiscent of mineral water. Peach shows up on the front of the palate, apricot at the finish and in the back of your mouth. Somehow manages to avoid being too sweet, despite a lack of much malt or hops character.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation too high - again reminiscent of mineral water.

Drinkability: Not bad for a fruit beer, but I won't be buying this one again. This one goes out to the ladies...

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-17-2007 23:51:34

Monday, 15 January 2007

Review: Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale from Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Rating: C

Got this at a bar in Scottsdale, AZ not realizing it was an AB product.

Appearance: Somewhat cola looking in appearance, little in the way of head or lacing but since it was on tap, the pour often has a lot to do with that.

Smell: Lots of vanilla, slight booze and caramel.

Taste: Again, overwhelming vanilla. Too much - it's hard to cut through and find anything else. Once you do, there's some toffee. Not really any wood or oak. Any bourbon character is flavor, not alcohol heat. None of the spiciness typical in winter warmers...

Mouthfeel: A little thin, maybe. I expect this much vanilla in a milkshake, not a beer. A tad slick.

Drinkability: On the lower side, unfortunately. Just too much vanilla, not subtle in the least.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-15-2007 17:45:20

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Review: 8th Street Ale

8th Street Ale from Four Peaks Brewing Company
Rating: B+

Solid bitter, golden/amber in color. Little in the way of head or lacing, but possibly due to the pour, since this was on tap. Smell is light, but pleasant. As far as taste, bitterness is light but sufficient. Not too sweet. Hops probably East Kent Goldings. Mouthfeel is good, ditto for drinkability. This could be a very good session beer. Next time I brew, I think it'll be an easy-drinking bitter - I've been making too many high alcohol beers lately. Good to see they're putting this in bottles.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-11-2007 02:12:19

Review: Fat Tire Amber Ale

Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing Inc.
Rating: B+

Had a bunch of these while I was in Arizona for the BCS National Championship - Go Gators!

Appearance: Amber color, clear, decent head and lacing.

Smell: Distinctly biscuity with slight hops aroma in the background.

Taste: Not much of the distinctive Belgian yeast aroma or flavor in this one, which I was naively expecting from a brewery called "New Belgium." Biscuity and grainy, with some hops in the background. Malt takes the lead in this one, and it is sufficiently complex without being too sweet, which helps drinkability a lot.

Mouthfeel: Not too thin, not too syrupy. Good.

Drinkability: Good - something even non craft beer drinkers can appreciate, maybe because it's complex-tasting without being bitter. Solid amber, probably the best I've had so far.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-11-2007 01:56:17

Review: The Raj India Pale Ale

The Raj India Pale Ale from Four Peaks Brewing Company
Rating: B+

Appearance: Typical orangey-copper color for an IPA. Not a lot of head or lace, but could be blamed on the pour.

Smell: lots of fresh hops, not as sweet smelling as a DIPA. Considering this, and that on the menu it's identified simply as "IPA" I'm guessing this might be miscategorized on the site.

Taste: Similar profile - more of the hops, less of the malt sweetness, this is an AIPA. 6.9% alcohol is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Just about right. Again - too thin to be a DIPA.

Drinkability: Good.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-11-2007 01:47:27

Friday, 5 January 2007

Review: Hibernator Pale Ale

Hibernator Pale Ale from Big Bear Brewing Company
Rating: B+

Appearance: Coppery orange in color, nice and clear, good head this time, though I wish it hadn't been served in a frosted glass. Little in the way of lacing.

Smell: Very nice cascade aroma. Dry-hopped? Aroma very reminiscent of SNPA. Very surprised at the review that said aroma was weak.

Taste: Hops in the forefront. Cascade flavors, citrus. A slight soapiness that reminds me of the last IPA I brewed, off a SN Celebration clone recipe... Pretty bitter, but little in the way of malt character.

Mouthfeel: Thinner than SNPA, but if anything that improves drinkability in this case.

Drinkability: Very good. As a note, according to the website this is "hibernation" pale ale, not "hibernator," as it is listed on BeerAdvocate.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-05-2007 20:51:09

Review: Kodiak Belgian Dubbel

Kodiak Belgian Dubbel from Big Bear Brewing Company
Rating: B+

Appearance: Arrived at the table a nice brown color with little head. With little head, there was no lacing, but that can be blamed on the pour.

Smell: Raisins, Belgian yeast, malt... Improved and filled out as it warmed. Vaguely American edges in some way, only 9 IBUs so probably not the hops - interesting.

Taste: Initially served too cold, which made it too crisp. As it warmed, the flavors really fleshed out. Dark fruits, hint of brown sugar, lots of raisin character. Very representative of the style. I wouldn't have guessed 7.5% abv.

Mouthfeel: A little thinner, perhaps, than what I'd expected.

Drinkability: Good.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-05-2007 20:44:37

Brewpub Review: Big Bear Brewing Company

Big Bear Brewing Company in Coral Springs, FL
Rating: B

Finally visited while home for break.

Atmosphere: a little on the dark side, more "classy" than many brewpubs - it's not a sports bar by any means, could be a decent date place. The brewing equipment and serving vessels are visible as you dine.

Quality: Both beers I had were solid. While a brewpub, didn't seem to be a beer-oriented place, most of the tables I saw had soda on them, although I did hear a girl behind me order the porter...

Service: Good, but didn't seem particularly attentive or knowledgeable about beer, either. Different glassware for the Belgian dubbel I ordered and the APA, which was appreciated, but the dubbel was served a little too cold and the APA was served in a frosted glass. Had to wait a bit more than I'd like to get the hostess's attention.

Selection: Better than average selection for a brewpub - eight beers on tap, including three rotating selections. I meant to ask if they had glassware available (I did see shirts...) but since none of their own beers were served in their own glassware, I guess probably not.

Food: Tasty. The beer meunster soup was delicious in a bread bowl, coconut shrimp were tasty, but a little on the greasy side. Good portions, didn't have room for dessert. Plenty of variety on the menu.

Reviewed on: 01-05-2007 21:00:58

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Review: Brew Masters Private Reserve

Brew Masters Private Reserve from Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Rating: B-

Happy new year! Opening this Christmas gift and sharing it with family... I'm going in trying desperately to be fair and ignore the name of the brewery on the label.

Appearance: Coppery-gold, with a big head that fades and leaves no lacing. Average looking.

Smell: I know this is all-malt, but it still smells macro-y - weak hops aroma, alcohol vaguely in the background. None of the squeaky-clean scent I associate with good pilseners. Malt, however, is more present than in your typical BMC macro lager, with a slight caramel note to it.

Taste: Reminds me of Tafel Lager, which I had in South Africa. Solid for the style. Slightly sweeter than I'd prefer, but with decent malt depth. Hops are light, but I suppose that's to be expected. Alcohol content is very clear when you swallow, unfortunately.

Mouthfeel: Thicker than typical macro lager, lingering aftertaste that you could not describe as pleasant.

Drinkability: Alcohol taste at the swallow detracts from drinkability, as does the slight sweetness and less than pleasant aftertaste. That said, clearly superior to the flagship products! I wanted to like this one, I really did, but I can't give it a "good" in any aspect.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-02-2007 00:38:50