Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Review: Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster from Terrapin Beer Company
Rating: A-

Thanks to mikesgroove for sending this one my way in a trade.

Appearance: Brilliant garnet in color, "red ale" indeed, nice one-two finger head, off-white in color. Good retention and lacing.

Smell: Herbaceous hop notes over a strongly sweet-smelling malt base. Some citrus and pine resin as well. Caramel and brown sugar as well...

Taste: Very nice and complex malt character, with brown sugar, bread and caramel notes in the fore. Balance is more toward the malt side than your typical DIPA, partially because the malt character here is complex rather than just sweet. Yes, it's bitter, with grapefruity hops that dry out the finish and keep it from being too sweet, but I think the way they described the beer on the label, as an "Imperial Red Ale," fits better than DIPA.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation slightly on the low side but appropriate.

Drinkability: High, especially when paired with homemade chili made with IPA. Before I cracked this one open, I was just thinking that perhaps I was getting tired of beers with "double" and "imperial" in the name, and would like to have just a straight-up IPA tonight... but in retrospect, I'm glad I opened this monster.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-28-2007 02:23:19

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Review: Palmetto Pale Ale

Palmetto Pale Ale from Palmetto Brewing Company
Rating: B

Thanks to mikesgroove for sending this one my way in a trade...

Appearance: Orange/amber in color, white one-finger head with good retention. Good lacing.

Smell: Aroma is a little weak. Caramel malt with some citrusy hops, and ale fruitiness in the background. Balance is not where I expect it to be for an APA, I'd expect more hops.

Taste: The flavor is a good bit different from the aroma - fairly bitter. Lots of bittering hops in this one, I'm guessing, but less flavor and aroma hops - perhaps there were cost considerations at play? Caramel malt, slightly acid. Clean finish.

Mouthfeel: Light in body, well-carbonated. A bit lacking in this category...

Drinkability: Not a great APA, but fairly drinkable nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-27-2007 03:45:39

Monday, 26 February 2007

Review: Duck-Rabbit Rabid Duck

Duck-Rabbit Rabid Duck from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, The
Rating: A-

Thanks to mikesgroove for sending this one my way...

Appearance: Pours opaque and jet black, with an enormous tan-colored head with good retention. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Strong aroma that's detectable as soon as the beer hits the bottom of the glass. Chocolate, roast, and a slight hint of... anise? Some coffee and alcohol.

Taste: Strongly bitter and roasty. Everything else takes a back seat: dark fruit, coffee and chocolate. Hop character is grassy, and shows up in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body, carbonation good for the style.

Drinkability: Not my favorite RIS, but solid.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-26-2007 05:18:08

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Review: Cottonwood Frostbite

Cottonwood Frostbite from Carolina Beer Company
Rating: A-

Thanks to ipa2xs for getting this one to me in a BIF.

Appearance: Poured an orangey dark amber with a two finger off-white head that exhibited good retention. Some lacing.

Smell: Hoppy (grapefruit character), with underlying caramel malts. Some fruitiness, the general profile is a bit reminiscent of a DIPA.

Taste: Wow, very interesting and hard to categorize. Nowhere near as sweet as a DIPA, but with a complex malt character. A bit of brown sugar compliments the malts, but the finish is acidic and bitter so it doesn't get cloying. Very good, very interesting. Resiny and grapefruit are the hop notes at play here.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body, good carbonation.

Drinkability: Not what I expected - and certainly much better. I saw it was their winter ale and assumed it would be a spiced beer of some kind, not a hoppy strong ale. Drinkability is high.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-24-2007 01:24:38

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Review: Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale

Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale from Carolina Beer Company
Rating: B+

I figured this one wasn't going to get any MORE seasonal until like September, so I'd better drink it now! Thanks to ipa2xs for sending this one to me in the course of the No Name BIF.

Appearance: A dark orange/honey/amber color with red tints. Nice one or two finger off-white head. Some floaties poured in, despite a careful pour. From my own experience brewing a pumpkin beer this year, I sympathize - it's hard to get all of the pumpkin and spice out! Retention is fair. No lacing.

Smell: Lots of pumpkin aroma, acidic-smelling, with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice notes. The brown sugar makes it stand out from other pumpkin beers I've had.

Taste: Not as flavorful as the smell, I'm afraid. Acidic, with pumpkin, very minor caramel in the finish. Spices are balanced enough that no one in particular dominates. Finishes dry from the acidity. Very nice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light body, carbonation a bit on the high side.

Drinkability: Not the "perfect pumpkin beer" as described by some of the reviews, but very solid. Easy drinking with low alcohol, light body. Still a novelty beer, however.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-22-2007 20:28:51

Review: Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout from Terrapin Beer Company
Rating: A

Received in a trade from mikesgroove, 2007 batch. Very fun label.

Appearance: Enormous tan-colored head with great retention. Absolutely opaque black, even when held right up to a light bulb. No lacing.

Smell: Chocolate and definitely lots of oatmeal in the aroma. Hints of dark fruits (raisins?), some roast but not much coffee. Smells a bit like brown bread.

Taste: Delicious and well-balanced. Roast, chocolate, bready, with those same raisin notes as in the aroma. Less coffee than I expected, but it shows up toward the end of the palate and is much more like iced coffee somehow than the coffee character in most stouts. Finishes on a dry, bitter chocolate note, but the aftertaste is all oats. Maybe a bit lighter-tasting than I expected.

Mouthfeel: Creamy! Lots of the smoothness that's associated with oatmeal. Medium body - a bit lighter than I expected from the color, but improves drinkability.

Drinkability: Light enough to be intensely drinkable. I had high expectations going into this one and I was not disappointed.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-22-2007 03:41:41

Monday, 19 February 2007

Review: Dale's Pale Ale

Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery
Rating: B+

Ah, the famous Dale's Pale Ale has finally made its way to Florida. Let's see how it is!

Appearance: Opens with less of a carbonation hiss than I expected, actually the empty can feels a bit lighter than usual, too. It pours a pumpkin orange, very clear, nice fluffy white one-finger head. Retention is fair, lacing is good.

Smell: Citrusy hops dominate the aroma, with some ale fruitiness and a malt backbone in the background.

Taste: Lots of hops flavor in every sip, but not overwhelmingly bitter. In addition to citrus, there's a resiny character to the hops flavor. This is a big pale ale loaded with flavor, and at 6.5% abv it's not light on alcohol either.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation a bit on the light side.

Drinkability: I'm floored, great beer from a can, who'd have thunk it? Apparently, the boys at Oskar Blues. "Beer for a glass, from a can" indeed.

Serving type: can

Reviewed on: 02-19-2007 01:12:16

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Review: Samuel Smith's, The Famous Taddy Porter

Samuel Smith's, The Famous Taddy Porter from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Rating: B+

Bought this one along with a Samuel Smith's nonik to celebrate a scholarship to get my masters in England.

Appearance: Very dark, with some garnet highlights. Huge head, exceptional lacing and retention. A fine looking beer, especially when poured in the appropriate nonik - a friend was inspired to get his camera and take a picture.

Smell: Roasted malt, with coffee and chocolate notes. Some caramel, but I don't pick up on any diacetyl aroma.

Taste: Roast, coffee, slight caramel and smoke. Bitter, but perhaps as much from burnt grain as from hops. Avoids the too-sweet and too-much-caramel traps for the style, dangerously close to the burnt-tasting trap but avoids it deftly.

Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy body. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: A well-made porter from Samuel Smith.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-18-2007 23:24:26

Review: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Rating: B+

Poured out of a brown bottle - is this one of the Samuel Smith's beers that recently changed from a clear bottle?

Appearance: Deep orange/amber in color, large two/three finger fluffy off-white head that exhibits excellent retention and lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt and diacetyl, a bit reminiscent of Bass in aroma (not surprising to be reminded of another English Pale Ale). Aroma is on the light side, little in the way of hops aroma - the hops character that is present is reminiscent of a pilsner somehow - maybe I'm picking up on the hops used?

Taste: Much more bitter than I had expected based on the aroma alone. Bread from the malt, diacetyl from the yeast, and a slight acidic orange juice citrusy-ness from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel. Acidic and dry finish. Good carbonation, a little bit on the light side - good for the style.

Drinkability: Not a bad session English Pale Ale. Perhaps curiously for an American beer drinker, I think I prefer this to their IPA - I find the diacetyl lower in this one, and maybe just as bitter.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-18-2007 23:19:15

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Review: Mojo Risin' Double IPA

Mojo Risin' Double IPA from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
Rating: A-

Appearance: Lighter in color than expected - more of a golden rather than a deep orange. Actually lighter than the Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale that my friend was pouring - surprising. Good head and lacing.

Smell: Aroma is of citrusy hops. Some sweet, caramel malt presence, but not quite as much as I'd expect.

Taste: Juicy, grapefruity hops flavor. Not quite as overwhelmingly in-your-face grapefruit as Smuttynose "Finest Kind" but getting there (better balanced, perhaps?). 10.5% alcohol is frighteningly well-concealed.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Avoids being syrupy. Well-carbonated.

Drinkability: High! This is good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-13-2007 13:16:06

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Review: Carolina Old 392

Carolina Old 392 from Carolina Brewing Company
Rating: A-

Thanks to ipa2xs for shipping this to me in the No Name BIF.

Appearance: Attractive amber/honey color, slightly hazy, off-white one finger head produced by a rather rough pour. Good lacing.

Smell: More hops in the aroma than your typical barleywine, deep underlying ale fruitiness, sweetness is present, but offset by the hops. Distinct grape aroma is present as well. No hint of alcohol in the nose.

Taste: Much hoppier than your typical barleywine. Could pass for a DIPA in terms of balance. Hops are slightly astringent on the back of the palate, not a whole lot in the way of distinct hop flavors unfortunately. Alcohol shows up more in the flavor than in the nose. Doesn't taste quite as good as it smells.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, well-carbonated. Just right for the style, it avoids being syrupy.

Drinkability: A little astringent and high on the alcohol to be too highly drinkable. Slightly off for the style, but I'll never complain about too much hops.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-08-2007 23:05:49

Review: Carolina Winter Porter

Carolina Winter Porter from Carolina Brewing Company
Rating: B+

Thanks to ipa2xs for shipping this my way in the No Name BIF

Appearance: Garnet in color, actually with almost a purple hue. Clear. One finger head, good lacing and retention.

Smell: Distinctly bitter roastiness, with some smooth chocolate. Hops come through in the same way they did in my dry-hopped homebrew imperial stout, only less so.

Taste: Wow. It really tastes a good bit like that homebrewed stout, excpet watered down into a porter. The resemblance is striking. Coffee and chocolate, with a distinct hops bitterness - more than most porters. Less roast than I expected, MUCH less caramel than I've come to expect in a porter, which I consider to be a very good thing.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Fairly creamy. Well-carbonated for the style.

Drinkability: High! Full of flavor, yet light enough to enjoy a bunch of. I'm wishing I had another bottle.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-08-2007 03:12:23

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Review: Tripel Karmeliet

Tripel Karmeliet from Brouwerij Bosteels
Rating: A

When served in the appropriate glassware at Stubbie Shirt Pub in Gainesville, this beer is a majestic hazy golden in color with good lacing. Very nice looking. Aroma is very nice: fruity and spicy, with Belgian yeast characteristics, although perhaps not quite as appealing as St. Bernardus' tripel... Taste is along the same lines, fruit and spice, very light on the hops. Touch of vanilla, alcohol presence well-hidden. Very well balanced. Mouthfeel is very smooth, carbonation is good. Drinkability is high - a very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-03-2007 08:02:55

Review: Lumberjack Oatmeal Stout

Lumberjack Oatmeal Stout from Hops Grillhouse & Brewery
Rating: B-

Appearance was very dark, with little head or lacing, perhaps due to pour since it was on tap. Smell was somewhat weak, predominantly roasted grain. Taste has a good dose of roast-grain bitterness. Not particularly complex, and the vanilla character noted by another reviewer didn't come through at all for me. Mouthfeel is somewhat thin, more like a porter than a stout. Lacks the creaminess I expect in an oatmeal stout. Drinkability is good, especially when it's two-for-one before seven o'clock!

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 02-03-2007 07:55:04

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Review: Duck-Rabbit Barleywine

Duck-Rabbit Barleywine from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, The
Rating: B+

Thanks to ipa2xs for sending this one my way in the No Name BIF.

Appearance: Attractive reddish mahogany in color, very clear. One finger head with good retention and nice lace.

Smell: Sweet and hoppy, although not as much fruit character as I'd expect - more fitting to my expectations of a Double IPA. Hop character is resiny.

Taste: Might smell a bit like a DIPA, but it doesn't taste like it. Sweet and citrus on the front of the palate. Resiny hops. Good bit of dark fruit towards the end. Finishes bitter rather than sweet. Definitely wouldn't have guessed 11% abv...

Mouthfeel: Big bodied, bordering on syrupy. Well-carbonated.

Drinkability: This is tasty beer. Only downside is that it's 11% abv - which I didn't realize when I opened it, whoops!

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 02-01-2007 22:37:07