Thursday, October 29, 2009

Imperial Red Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA

Another solid product from the most talented brewers in Petaluma, CA! Imperial Red Ale is one of Lagunitas Brewing Company's seasonal releases for 2009. This is a fantastic beer. Originally, I purchased a six pack, planning to save one to review for the site. Well, that first six pack was gone before I knew it, and the one from this review is the tail end of the second six pack. Like I said, fantastic beer...

The color on this one is red-ish brown, with a short cream-colored head. There is a prominent aroma, mostly suggesting hops, but also some toasted malt scent. I'm getting a bit of ripe cherry aroma too.

But it is the taste of this beer that makes it a winner. With a solid 7.8% ABV, you'd expect some kind of alcohol presence or "heat", but that isn't present with this beer. The strong hop aroma doesn't directly translate to the taste, as the malt flavors win out, with a bit of that fruity taste (in a good way). The hops are there in the aftertaste, balancing everything out. Delicious!

Rating = 4.5

Superlative! Track some down while it's available!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bud Light Golden Wheat

Ooooh boy, where to start...

So I was asked to try the new Bud Light Golden Wheat beer, and to keep both our faithful readers happy, I complied. Next time anyone has a suggestion though, can you at least try to make it a good beer? Pretty please?

I tried this beer both out of the bottle directly and poured into a glass. The bottle states that it is brewed with coriander and citrus peels which means you should be able to taste or smell each of those ingredients. Well, I must have missed something because I didn't get either, whether it be in taste or smell. It tasted closer to a Miller Lite than a Bud Lite to me.

It did however look pretty in the glass. It poured a nice healthy hazy orange color with a decent amount of head. But at 4.1%abv, there's really not much of a kick to it either. It didn't taste very good, and it'll take 10 of them to get anything close to a buzz. So really, what's the point? I'm going to give it a 2, and that might actually be a little generous.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Old Chub, Oskar Blues Brewing Co., Lyons, Co

Yes, I know, another Oskar Blues beer. What can I say, I find good brewers and tend to go through as many of their beers as possible. The Old Chub, great name, is a creamy Scottish ale. The Chub has a high octane of 8% so you do get that alcoholly kick to it. You also can taste that this is a hopped up beer. The high alcohol flavor definitely detracts from what could possibly be a great beer. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past that kick. However, I do appreciate high hopped beers in cans, just in this case I was thrown off. The Old Chub gets a 2.5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vanilla Java Porter, Atwater Block Brewery, Detroit, MI

Disclaimer: I like porters. I like dark beers. I like vanilla. I like coffee.

Atwater Block Brewery in Detroit, MI is apparently trying to ruin all four things for me. Their Vanilla Java Porter is not good. Initially, it seems like the aroma of vanilla could lead towards a good combination in this porter, but the aroma was the highlight for this beer. The taste, from the first sip to the sip right before I poured the rest down the drain, was not pleasant. A friend of mine describes porters and stouts as "metallic", noting the strange sensation of metal in the aftertaste. This one is tastes like it was brewed in an iron mine.

To top it off, the first bottle that I opened was dramatically overcarbonated, erupting onto my kitchen floor. Not a fortuitous beginning.

The only redeeming factor is the healthy 6.0% ABV.

Sadly, I bought a six pack. Now I need to invite over some people who don't read the blog and try to get them to drink the rest of these beers.

Rating = 1.0

I don't think we'll be having Atwater Block Brewery as an advertiser on the site anytime soon...

PS - thanks to some guy on Flickr for the image.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Harvard's Harvest Spice

Remember when you were a kid? Say it’s 1984, I’m seven years old, and it’s Christmas morning. Remember that feeling of running downstairs and ripping open your new Star Wars toys or GI Joes? Best feeling ever wasn’t it?

Well I have the adult equivalent. Every fall I wait for it, and every fall it comes along… John Harvard’s Harvest Spice Ale. Mmm mmm good!

Harvest Spice pours a copper color, with a healthy head. The beer just has all the smells and tastes of a nice warm meal on a cold rainy day and the spices just attack your pallet with that first sip. The beer is normally served with cinnamon sugar on the lip of the glass (think margarita) which may sound unappealing, but it’s actually like a party in your mouth. The combination of the spices and the sugar is as good as it gets really

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find it’s abv, but without knowing the specific number, I’m going to say that you won’t be disappointed. Overall, Harvest Spice is getting a very solid 4 from me, and I highly recommend you run out and try it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beck's Non-Alcoholic, Braueri Beck & Co., Bremen, Germany

I know what you're thinking, non-alcoholic beer? Really, who would
drink that? Well I did, and the Beck's is pale with a sweetish
aftertaste. The beer toes that fine line of is it or isn't it
skunked. Most green bottled beers face this dilemna. The beer also
has a bitter twang. The ABV is 0.5%. Truthfully if you like Beck's
Alcoholic, you'll like Beck's Non-Alcoholic however, I do not so it
gets a 1.5.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Festbier, Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany

The World's Oldest Brewery?!? I feel like I've heard this claim about 50 times from different European breweries. But a quick check suggests that these guys have a decent claim to the title. And I thought it was all marketing baloney...

Weinhenstephaner Festbier is a pretty good Octoberfest beer, even though it seems to deviate from the traditional style a bit. First, it is a pale yellow color and a bit cloudy after the pour. The aroma, while initially musty, settles down into a nice German hop/malt combo. The taste is good, but not great, and seems watery at times. There seems to be quite a bit of fizzy carbonation, which I think is odd for this style.

The ABV comes in at 5.8%, good and healthy.

Rating = 3.0

All things considered, this one would probably be good for drinking in enormous German steins. It goes down nice and easy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oktoberfest, Hofbrau Munchen, Munich, Germany

I'm running out of review dates in October, and there are still several good Octoberfest beers to review. So, I'm going to do some quick-hit reviews to try to cover everything.

Hofbrau Octoberfest from Munich, Germany is a classic European Octoberfest beer. Sadly, it comes in a green 33 ml bottle (11.2 oz), effectively "pouring some out for the homies" on your behalf. The beer has a yellow-gold color, which is very different than most American Octoberfests and their rich chestnut-brown colors. The flavor is also a good contrast, as it tastes quite crisp and light, with a bit of green apple in the aftertaste. And the ABV of 6.2% is also quite nice.

On the downside, it kind of tastes like an American lager, like Yuengling or something. Not quite what I expected, I guess. That, and the missing .8 oz, bring the rating down a touch.

Rating = 3.5

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blue Hill Brewery: Watermelon Wheat

Watermelon beer (you'll have to excuse the label, I was unable to find a watermelon wheat picture, nor was I able to find an abv, as it's not even listed on their website). I know, I know, nobody likes a fruity beer. Usually, I'm part of that nobody, but believe it or not, this was actually pretty tasty.

I tried this beer at the Blue Hill Brewery's recent Oktoberfest, but I took my time trying each brew as to not cross contaminate. Ok that's a lie, but I didn't drink so fast as to not remember what each tasted like. Poured out of the tap, the beer produced minimal head, and you're immediately hit with the scent of wheat, which makes sense since it's a wheat beer.

I wasn't really sure what to expect the flavor to be, but I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted very similar to a run of the mill wheat beer, with a slight kick of hops, but just as the last bit of the sip goes past your tongue, you're hit with the watermelon flavor. Not overwhelmingly watermelon, more like the last couple sucks on a jolly rancher (and I mean the candy, not a happy cattle farmer). I was actually really surprised and I'm going to go ahead and give this beer a very strong 3. Maybe not the best beer on a chilly October afternoon, but on a nice summer afternoon, fire it up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blue Hills Ocktoberfest, Blue Hills Brewery, Canton, MA

So as you can see me and a few friends stopped by the Blue Hills Brewery Oktoberfest yesterday. As I am a big fan of their IPA, I was pretty excited to try some of their other beers. They had their IPA, Xtra Pale Ale, Watermelon Wheat and Oktoberfest on tap. So of course I had to start with the star of the show, the Oktoberfest. I must say the beer was slightly disappointing at the start, the beer came off as flat, which is never a good sign. But since I had spent the $5, I was drinking it and I must admit, the beer's flavor did its best to rebound from the flat start, the honey maltish flavors made the beer palatable, and it could even be a great beer, but the false start really keeps this beer down. Granted I am drinking this beer at a huge event so maybe quality assurance did not win out in the efforts to produce quantity. While this beer will get a 2.5, I am reserving the right to re-review in better circumstances next time around.
Also, the showing at the Oktoberfest wasn't as big as I thought. I think it being a Sunday, a Red Sox Playoff game followed by a Patriots game had something to do with it. I posted some more pictures over on Facebook. Also, I think some of the staff dressed in leiderhosen or dressed in more traditional Oktoberfest garb would have gone a long way. All in all a good time was had by all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blue Hills Oktoberfest This Sunday

Just wanted to take you into this weekend with the announcement of the Blue Hills Brewery Oktoberfest this weekend in Canton, MA.
Sunday - October 11, 2009
12:00PM - 6:00PM
Irish Cultural Center
200 New Boston Dr
Canton, MA
As this beer is a Beer Crusade favorite, we hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oktoberfest, Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau, Germany

It only seems fitting to review a German beer as one of the Octoberfest reviews. Spaten Oktoberfest claims to be the "world's first Octoberfest beer", which seems a bit dubious as it was first brewed in 1872 while the first Octoberfest celebration was in 1810. Hmmm...

The beer is well made, but might suffer from being a bit too "classic" or something. It has a nice walnut/amber color, and a very malty aroma. The aroma is initially very strong (almost too much), but it fades after the first few sips. Malt and sugar are very prominent in the flavor, as you'd expect from this type of beer, and there is a light taste of hops in the aftertaste. The hops, while definitely in the background, help to balance out the sweetness. The beer is very easy to drink, almost like a light beer, and at 5.9% ABV, you might want a second.

In comparison to some of the other Octoberfest beers that have already been reviewed, this one doesn't quite stack up. It is definitely a nice beer, but the better American offerings leave this German in the dust.

Rating = 3.0

Is this the best that Germany has to offer? We'll find out, as there are more reviews of German and Bavarian Octoberfest beers to come...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coopers Original Pale Ale

Every once in a while, when you're out and about with friends, you stumble onto something unexpectedly, and this is what happened with the Coopers Pale Ale. Coopers is out of Australia, so immediately I think of Fosters (or at least the episode of the Simpsons where they go to Australia and drink Fosters).

I had the Coopers in a glass, but poured from the bottle. It pours cloudy with a very healthy head. When pouring from the bottle, be careful you don't get too much sediment in your glass though. It went down very smooth, with the first glass tasting as good as the fourth. The smell was mostly of hops with a hint of citrus, but it wasn't exactly overpowering. Simple would be a good word to describe it really.

If you're out and about and see this beer, I'd definitely recommend you give it a whirl. At 4.5%abv, it's not all that potent, but the taste makes up for it. Overall, I'd give this beer a very solid 3.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Double Bock Dark Lager, Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston, MA

So a few months back, I found a sixer of Sam Adams Double Bock in my fridge. Seriously, this is the life of a beer reviewer, you come home and you find strange beer in your fridge. You don't question these things, you just accept it and move on. Now, I could tell you what bock means, let alone double bock, but I leave the beer science to the other guys. Here is what I know, Sam Adams dumps a half pound of malt in each one of these bad boys, powerful stuff. The Double Bock, is double chocolatey goodness, with the consistency of a high minute Dogfish offering. There is a little cherry background that gives the beer a sweetish aftertaste, don't worry, it's not too sweet. The 9.5% ABV means the amateurs should leave this beer alone. However, if you like dark, chocolatey beers, this is one to keep an eye out for. This baby is a 4.5 in my book.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Octoberfest, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

I like Harpoon a lot, and I typically enjoy their beers very much (despite my previous Harpoon Crystal Wheat review). But the Harpoon Octoberfest isn't as good as it could be.

It does have a very nice amber color, and it pours out with a creamy, firm head. But the taste of the beer is underwhelming. The carbonation is OK, but something about the body of the beer feels thin or watery. The malt taste is prominent, as you'd expect for an Octoberfest. The hops add very little aroma, but do impart an interesting spicy flavor. Altogether, it feels like something is missing.

Rating = 3.0

This isn't a bad beer. The ABV of 5.5% suggests that you can enjoy more than one. Maybe my expectations were too high, knowing that Harpoon has the skill to put out some great beers.