Archive for the ‘Beer Reviews’ Category

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Beer Review: Magic Hat deVEILed

August 15, 2013

Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me the subject of my latest beer review: their deVEILed, what they describe as an “amber concoction” that “spans two tantalizing worlds”.  It’s an amber ale with a malt base but with a hop bite as well, and it’s exclusive to their Night of the Living Dead Variety Pak.  Let’s see how it fares, shall we?

The Pour
It’s been so long since I did a beer review, I forgot to note the head until it was gone, so I don’t know how thick it was.  I do know it’s a light beige and the beer is a dark ruby and cola colored brew, but light enough to be translucent.

The Nose
A promising start, the nose features caramel and coffee, with a dark, fruity characteristic.  (Their letter says the aroma is of caramel and dark fruits, but I also pick up coffee and the dark fruit seems somewhat raisin-y to me.)  I love the aroma.

The Taste
The beer is medium bodied, with a creamy but somewhat dry mouthfeel.  The dryness gives it a slight dusty feel to it, resting on the base of chocolate, coffee and wood.  There isn’t really what I would call a bitterness to it, except perhaps a bit on the finish in the back of the palate, but the hops serve to balance this and keep it interesting, adding that previously mentioned dry dusty feel to it and keeping it interesting.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: I like the ruby hue, but missed the head on this one. 8 points out of 10

Nose: Coffee, caramel and dark fruit…always a winning combination if you ask me. 14 out of 15

Taste: Good blend of flavors, well balanced, very drinkable. 45 out of 55

Style: Fitting for the style.  Roasted character almost leans toward a brown ale.  17 out of 20

Total rating: 84 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: Good flavor with an interesting profile.  If you want something a little more hoppy than a brown, give this a shot!  You won’t be sorry.

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Beer Review: Brooklyn Brewery’s Dry Irish Stout

January 25, 2013

The beer I enjoy often depends on the season.  In the summer I like a good IPA, in the fall I tend towards a nut brown ale to a porter, but my favorite time of year for beer is winter, when I can enjoy a nice stout in front of a roaring fire.  Brooklyn Brewery read my mind recently and sent me samples of their Dry Irish Stout.  Thank you, Brooklyn folks!

About the beer
From the Brooklyn website:

Brooklyn Irish Stout is brewed the old-fashioned way, without the nitrogen addition. A large portion of the grain is roasted like coffee beans, developing the typical color and flavor of this beer. Aside from British pale malts, the beer includes caramel malts, black patent malt, unmalted black barley and a proportion of flaked raw barley, which helps the beer develop a beautiful, thick natural head. The famous East Kent Golding hop lends to the earthy aroma. The beer is neither filtered, nor fined and has a light, brisk carbonation. The blend of grains gives the beer an espresso-like bite, followed by coffee and chocolate flavors.

The Pour
This poured a dark brown with red undertones.  A beautiful tan head, one finger thick, topped off the beer, leaving decent lacing on the glass.

The Nose
This beer has one great nose.  Chocolatey, earthy and slightly hoppy, with lots of great roasted malt.  Just a complex, tasty nose.  You almost want to just keep inhaling its bouquet, but it’s so alluring you just have to taste it.

The Taste
The nose definitely alludes to the flavors to come.  At first this beer is very carbonated, moreso than I expect from a stout.  There are light chocolatey flavors there, released by the effervescence.  You quickly realize it is a dry beer, but one that carries a minor level of sweetness with it.  As the beer warms, more earthy flavors come out, almost a peat note that is most fitting with an Irish stout.  I realized after a couple of tastings of the beer that the chocolate and earthy flavors linger on the palate for some time, which is a good experience.  There is a lot of complexity here to be deciphered and enjoyed.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: Attractive beer, I like that it’s not pitch black but has some hint of color. 9 points out of 10

Nose: Very good nose, very interesting and representative, but leaving some things to the imagination. 14 out of 15

Taste: Good complexity and depth of flavor, good stout flavors, but in probably the most drinkable stout I’ve had. 48 out of 55

Style: Very appropriate representation of the style.  18 out of 20

Total rating: 89 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: A lot of people shy away from stouts because they see them as heavy and weighty, and not at all something to enjoy casually with friends, but this definitely puts those misconceptions to rest.  This is a great beer if you still want to enjoy a nice roasty beer for winter but don’t want to feel sluggish and full after a couple of beers.  Very tasty and complex.

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Beer Review: Magic Hat hI.P.A.

August 25, 2012

Magic Hat recently sent me a few beers to try, and this is the first of the three: hI.P.A.  A higher alcohol IPA (6.7%), it features Columbus hops, Pale malt and English Ale yeast.

The Pour
This pours a great golden straw color slightly tinged with orange.  A 1 1/2 finger thick, quite white fluffy head floats atop the beer and leaves nice lacing as you enjoy this beer.

The Nose
This has a good hoppy nose, but with a malt sweetness that rounds off the sharp bitter edges.  The aroma is floral, slightly grassy and has  a faint fruitiness to it (perhaps a berry?)

The Taste
I thought this had more body than I would have expected.  This IPA is not mouth puckeringly hoppy at all, and seemed creamier than I expected as well. It tasted of floral, slightly grassy hops, with a faint citrusy note to it.  There was a distinct bitterness at the back of the throat at the finish, but most of the overt hoppiness you expect with an IPA was tempered, tamed, perhaps, by the sweetness of the malt.  You don’t even notice the higher (6.7%) ABV with this beer.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: An attractive beer, the head leaves nice lacing on the glass. 8 points out of 10

Nose: Good nose, not outstanding, representative of the flavors to come. 13 out of 15

Taste: Good flavor, creaminess was unexpected, but nice. I like how the IPA hoppiness was tempered by malt. 44 out of 55

Style: Less hoppy than the usual American IPA, but good.  18 out of 20

Total rating: 83 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: Not a bad IPA at all, but not a big mouth puckering beer.  Actually a good transition as we approach darker beer season…it retains some good hoppiness but starts adding sweeter malt to your palate.  Definitely worth a go.

 

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Beer Review: Lost Coast Downtown Brown

August 1, 2012

Wow…..first beer review in a while….it’s good to be back in the saddle again.  Today’s beer review is Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown.  Although it’s still summer, and I am looking forward to enjoying some great citrusy IPAs at an upcoming river party, my thoughts recently turned towards brown ales.  I hadn’t really tried any Lost Coast beers, so I chose their Downtown Brown to meet my need for a good brown ale, and I am so glad I did.

The Pour
This beer pours the way a good brown ale should: a two-finger thick, dense creamy tan head floats atop this chocolate brown colored ale.  I was somewhat surprised to see floating (yeast?) sediment in this beer, but you really don’t even notice it.

The Nose
Ahhhh….this is what a great brown ale smells like.  I pick up oak, chocolate and coffee notes with a nutty edge as well.  This beer smells great!

The Taste
A cigarette ad once proclaimed their product, “tastes good, like a cigarette should”, or something like that.  Well this brown ale tastes great, like a nut brown ale should.  It is very smooth and creamy, and nutty and oaky flavors dance on the tongue, partnering with hints of coffee and chocolate, all joining forces (Wonder Twin powers activate!) to form a great, flavorful experience.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: Good head, nice color, floating yeast was unexpected. 8 points out of 10

Nose: Very nice, this beer had a great aroma. 14 out of 15

Taste: Very smooth and creamy, yet dry at the same time.  Very tasty. 46 out of 55

Style: Right in line with the style of an English style brown ale,  19 out of 20

Total rating: 87 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: This is a very tasty nut brown ale indeed.  If you’re beginning to crave a darker beer, but it’s too hot for the stouts and porters of fall/winter, give this a shot!  You will definitely not be disappointed.

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Beer Review: Odell Brewing Company’s Shenanigans

May 3, 2012

I’ve been getting press releases from Odell for some time now, usually highlighting some new brew, so I finally asked if they ever send review samples.  They obliged by sending me a bottle of their Shenanigans. Here is a description of Odell Shenanigans from their website:

Our spirited brewers diligently cultivate recipes on our pilot brewing playground. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as planned…they turn out better. Destined for another adventure, this delightful crimson ale is aged in oak with just a touch of Brettanomyces. The subtle Brett tartness balances the rich amber malt with hints of dried fruit and light citrus. Our ode to the happy accident, Shenanigans was just too good not to share. 9.1% Alc. by Vol.

Sounds interesting and tasty…let’s just see…

The Pour
This poured (perhaps I poured too vigorously) with a massive three finger thick, pillowy caramel colored head smothering a very hazy reddish orange beer.   That ended up being about the softest, creamiest, fluffiest head I’ve had in some time! (Wow, that sounds dirty)

The Nose
Tart cherry and a good sourness were most present upfront, with some malt sweetness present as well as a slight hoppy note.  An oak presence was definitely observed as well, as kind of a woody hint hiding in the shadows.

The Taste
This is a good, oaky beer with a slight sourness to it…a sourness I wanted to be turned up a notch.  There was a slight sweetness to it as well, balancing out the tart nature of it. This beer is medium-bodied, with a slight lean towards full-bodied, with a slightly creamy mouthfeel.  I also seemed to notice peppery notes on the finish as it warmed.  There was also a slight citrusy tinge to it all. It’s funny to say, but if I didn’t know it was higher ABV, I wouldn’t have known it was higher ABV. (You didn’t notice the alcohol is what I mean.)

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: The head was quite voluminous. 9 points out of 10

Nose: A good nose to be sure, very upfront about the tastes to come . 13 out of 15

Taste: This was an intriguing, sour beer with good complexity. 48 out of 55

Style: I don’t know quite what style to compare this beer to.  BeerAdvocate calls a similarly aged crimson ale from Odell an “American Strong Ale”.  Since this part of the scoring is intended to help offset my personal opinion of the taste of the beer, I’ll give it a decent 17 out of 20

Total rating: 87 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: A little more tartness to it would have, in my opinion, made this a better beer, but this is very tasty and intriguing regardless.

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Beer Review: Magic Hat’s Vinyl

March 29, 2012

Magic Hat, out of Vermont, has recently wisely joined the pantheon of breweries sending me review samples of their products.  I actually have not had much of their beer prior to the samples they sent me…in all actuality, now that I think about it, the only one I can specifically remember trying is their #9.  This is why sending me review samples is such a good idea.  I would have gotten around to reviewing some of their beer sooner or later, but sending me samples makes me feel obligated to review the beer pretty quickly.

Vinyl, an amber lager, puts Crystal, Munich, Amber and Victory malts on display to share the stage with Apollo and Northern Brewer hops.  This lager is no heavyweight, weighing in at 5.1% ABV.

The Pour
This is a very pretty beer on the pour, showing a nice clear orange amber color with a light straw-colored head that doesn’t last very long.  Looks thirst-quenching and refreshing.

The Nose
Smells like a good lager, with butterscotch and toasted bread notes, slightly hoppy but with tasty malt aromas.

The Taste
This beer is a light-medium bodied beer, and is quite smooth.  I’m not a lager guy, really, but this is different.  It has a good amber lager foundation with hints of chocolate, but it also has a buttery feel and flavor to it, and something else unique that I never could identify.  Some unexpected flavor profile that made me want to keep drinking to see just what it was. I never did figure it out.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: A very visually appealing beer. 9 points out of 10

Nose: Really nice nose, good profile. 13 out of 15

Taste: Features good amber lager characteristics but with more complexity and depth of flavor. 46 out of 55

Style: Definitely fits in with the other amber lagers I have tried. 19 out of 20

Total rating: 87 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: I am not a huge lager drinker, but if you are going to drink a lager, make it one like this, with complex flavors and some depth and flavor to it.  Definitely an interesting brew I would like to try again.

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Beer Review: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

March 29, 2012

Ahhh, Brooklyn Brewerybrooklyn black chocolate stout…one of my favorite breweries right now.  Their beers, or the ones I have tried thus far, seem to be consistently of high quality and quite tasty.  It’s hard to find a brewery that consistently good.  According to Brooklyn, Black Chocolate Stout is their award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style, once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. (The style, that is…I don’t think Brooklyn Brewery has existed since Catherine the Great’s time ;) ).  According to the fact sheet that accompanied the beer, they, “use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specially roasted malts.”

The beer is brewed using American two-row pale malt, caramel malt, malted wheat and a blend of American roasted malts and barleys.  Willamette and American Fuggle hops are also part of this elixir.  This beer weighs in at a hefty 10% ABV.

The Pour
This beer practically oozes out of the bottle, a thick, syrupy black beer with a thin coffee-with-cream colored head sitting weakly atop the stoutness of this brew.  Coming out of the bottle, it almost resembles thick chocolate syrup.

The Nose
This smells, to me, pretty much the way I like a stout to smell.  Chocolate, dark dried fruit, wood and smoke all mingle together to tell you, “Yep, you’re drinking a stout. Throw another log on the fire, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience.”

The Taste
With a thick and viscous mouthfeel, the tastes of wood, smoke, chocolate and roasted malt want to coat the palette and linger for the winter, but a pretty dry finish comes along and prepares you for the next mouthful.  There is more of a bitterness to this than I expected, which to my mind makes it a good middle ground where a drier stout meets a sweeter stout and both win in their own way.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: A nice dark, thick pour with a nicely colored head, though it doesn’t last. 8 points out of 10

Nose: As expected, a strong nose with good stout characteristics. 13 out of 15

Taste: Good dark stout flavor profile but with a bitterness that positions it as a good compromise between a drier stout and a sweeter stout. 45 out of 55

Style: This fits the Imperial Stout style to a T.  Perfect example of the style. 20 out of 20

Total rating: 86 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: A great beer to sit in front of a fire with, to let the smoke and wood of the fire mingle with the smoke and wood in the flavor profile.

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Magic Hat to Let Drinkers Vote Beer into Variety Pak

March 29, 2012

High Participation in Democracy Expected in 2012

South Burlington, VT – The Magic Hat Brewing Company has announced a unique way to get Americans to take part in the democratic process in preparation for this year’s presidential election. The Vermont brewer is asking the drinking public to vote their favorite Magic Hatbeer of yesteryear into the Participation Variety 12-Pak, due out in August. Many beers have been requested over the years, however few have been resuscitated. Participation offers a chance for the masses to have their voice heard, loud and clear.

An Interactively Encouraging, Politically Charged Project

Starting in January, Magic Hat lovers have had the opportunity to vote their favorite Magic Hat beer into the Participation Variety 12-Pak by visiting http://www.magichat.net/participation. As each Magic Hat beer is incredibly unique, each has taken a personal stand, the foundations of which can be pondered over one or several libations. From there, voters will be able to make an informed decision based on their personal ale needs and values (in beer). Beer ballots will be counted on April 6, with the winning candidate’s inauguration coming in August, when the Participation Variety 12-Pak hits shelves.

The inspiration for such a bold and interactive exercise in democracy comes from a fabulous quadrennial partnership with grassroots voter registration organization, HeadCount. Every four years, Magic Hat partners with HeadCount in an energizing effort to register voters so their voices may be heard. The collective excitement between the two democratically correct organizations promises a year full of politically inspired conversation over some of the finest craft beers ever brewed, the culmination of which will take place on Election Day, November 6, 2012.

A Proud Partner in and Proponent of Democracy

HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and raise political consciousness. Since 2004 it has staged voter registration drives at over 2,000 concerts and signed up over 175,000 voters. It reaches young people and music fans where they already are – at concerts and online – to inform and empower. Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam are among the more than 100 acts that have welcomed HeadCount volunteers to their concerts. Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits serve on its board of directors. The message of HeadCount is not about what party you support or where you land on an issue. It’s that you must speak to be heard.

For more information on Magic Hat’s Participation program, and their partnership with HeadCount, please contact Magic Hat’s Hanging Chad Collector, Dave Weissman, at Dave@musicalearth.com or at (614) 396-7000.

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Beer Review: Brooklyn Brewery’s Winter Ale

February 23, 2012

It was in the 70s here in Nashville today (in February!) and tomorrow night it will be 29 degrees. Might as well review a winter beer while I still can! This one was sent to me from Brooklyn Brewery, and it is their Winter Ale. I’m a big fan of Brooklyn Brewery, so I was excited when I saw the package on my doorstep!

According to the Brooklyn Brewery website, this Scottish-style ale features Scottish Floor-malted Maris Otter, English crystal malts, Belgian Aromatic malt, American roasted malts, American oats, and Willamette hops. According to me, it’s a tasty Scottish-style ale indeed.

The Pour
This caramel-colored ale comes, poured correctly, topped with a 2-finger thick fluffy beige head comprised of tiny delicate bubbles that cling to the glass.  The beer itself resembles a cola in which the ice has been allowed to melt, but with reddish undertones.

The Nose
The nose features some woody-ness and peat, hints of bourbon, slight tart cherry hints and a sweet and toasty malt backbone.  There seems to be a slight whisper of chocolate as well.  All in all, a very interesting nose with a lot to show off.

The Taste
This beer comes across malty and sweet, but with a crisp edge, not at all cloying.  The nose definitely alluded to the nice flavors within, as a woody and peaty character is introduced, with subtle nutty and chocolatey accompaniment on the finish.  There’s a very good depth of flavor here, and the peat and wood really speak to all that is winter.  There is even a slight sourness that edges forward as the beer warms.  This beer is medium/full-bodied, with a mouthfeel that is both crisp and slightly cloying.  The flavors tend to stick around on the palette, which is not at all a bad thing.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: A nice head floats atop this beer that shows a good rich coloring, quite appropriate for the richness within, waiting to be quaffed.
8 points out of 10

Nose: Smells great, and rich, and lets you in on what to expect on the palate, without betraying all the flavor notes.
14 out of 15

Taste: Good malty, earthy flavor, with good depth and really spotlighting a lot of characteristics I enjoy, such as slight chocolatey hints and tart cherry, as well as a sourness that arises as it warms and breathes.
49 out of 55

Style: When I think of a Scottish-style ale, I think of a deep, rich earthy flavor, and this beer delivers that, to be sure.  But it does it in a way that is far from one-note, showcasing other complementary flavors and profiles.  This is an example of a beer that takes a style and fits it, then does even better.
19 out of 20

Total rating: 90 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: If you like a Scottish ale but want one that isn’t so earthy you think you’ve been buried alive, this is the beer for you. Excellent, excellent brew.

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Beer review: Brooklyn Summer Ale

August 16, 2011

Brooklyn Summer AleI first encountered Brooklyn Brewery in Panama City Beach, thanks to Chan’s Wine World, but that was in a collaborative effort with Franziskaner.  It wasn’t until later, back here in Tennessee, that I experienced Brooklyn’s brews on their own, and I am a fan thus far.  I was hoping they would someday send me samples to review, and I am happy to report that this year they contacted me, offering review samples.  I was sent their Summer Ale and their Sorachi Ace, which I will review later. More: Beer review: Brooklyn Summer Ale

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Beer Review: Flying Dog Coffee Stout (Batch 2)

June 18, 2011

Now I love beer, obviously, but I love coffee as well. This is probably why I so greatly enjoy stouts and porters. So when a coffee stout comes along, I am doubly excited! I came home one day to an unexpected package, always a great day, and it was Flying Dog‘s Coffee Stout (Batch 2). This coffee stout, made with English Ale yeast and Black Dog Coffee, weighs in at 8.9% ABV. Let’s see how it tastes, and if it keeps me up all night, shall we?

The Pour
A vigorous pour resulted in a burnt orange tinged caramel colored head, about 1 1/2 fingers thick, resting atop a thick dark beer. It looks like melted dark chocolate in a glass, thick and viscous and making promises of rich deep flavors. More: Beer Review: Flying Dog Coffee Stout (Batch 2)

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Beer Review: JW Lee’s Harvest Ale

May 10, 2011
JW Lee's Harvest Ale 2007

photo courtesy Lancastrian
(via flickr)

This beer, JW Lee’s Harvest Ale 2007, a fully fermented old ale, was provided to me by Aleksey’s Imports for reviewing purposes.  I’ve already previously reviewed a version of this that had been aged in Lagavulin Whisky casks.  I’ve seen this called a barleywine on some websites, but I think it’s more appropriately referred to as an old ale, as was mentioned on the bottle.

The Pour
There was less than a finger of head to speak of on the pour, which did not surprise me, given the nature of the beer.  The very light tan head dissipated somewhat quickly.   This old ale pours to an orange-tinged brown color with a great deal of sediment floating around in the bottle.  I know some people leave a little of the beer in the bottle, hoping to hold back that sediment, but if it’s there, I like to see it and experience it.  More: Beer Review: JW Lee’s Harvest Ale

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Beer Review: Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA

April 28, 2011

Flying Dog was the first brewery to send me samples for reviewing purposes, back when I never imagined anyone doing that.  They sent me their Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA some time ago and I did tasting notes and thought I had posted the review, but it appears I never got it posted.  So I am posting it now, and hope you’ll enjoy.

According to the Flying Dog website, this is an American IPA augmented with Belgian yeast.  It also weighs in at 8.3% ABV, so beware the wrath of the Raging Bitch! More: Beer Review: Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA

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Beer Review: J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale aged in Lagavulin Casks

April 23, 2011

J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale matured in Lagavulin Whisky casksI know, it’s been a while since my last review.  I’ve been so busy working and trying to find a civil engineering job in the Nashville area that I’ve neglected my poor blog.  This beer review (J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale aged in Lagavulin Casks) comes courtesy of Aleksey’s Imports, who have provided me beer for quite a few reviews in the past, and to whom I am very grateful.

More: Beer Review: J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale aged in Lagavulin Casks

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Beer Review: Brauereu Heller Bamberg’s Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

November 29, 2010

Today’s beer review is another brought to you by Aleksey’s Imports.  I knew going into this that it was a smoke beer, but tried it anyway.  :)  The only other smoke beer I’ve really had was Rogue’s Smoke Ale, and I hated it.  I’m talking drain-pouringly awful.  I thought it was like drinking smoked pork…bacon in a glass, perhaps?  So I approached this beer with some trepidation, to say the least. More: Beer Review: Brauereu Heller Bamberg’s Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

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