Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bayshore Oyster Stout, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ

The Bayshore Oyster Stout is part of a limited series named after the exits on the Jersey Turnpike (Oyster Stout represents Exit 1). I've never had anything from the Flying Fish Brewing Co., but I'm going to keep them in mind.

The concept of a beer brewed with oysters is a bit bizarre. Would people with shellfish allergies be able to consume this beer? Is the oyster like a tequila worm, waiting at the bottom of the bottle? Is this going to taste totally gross?

Good news - no visible oysters in my beer, and the taste is actually quite good. The flavor and feel of this beer is definitely the highlight. There is a very nice maltiness, with a creamy and smooth feeling on the tongue. The aroma of smoked malt is pervasive, as you'd expect. Basically, this is a very smooth and creamy stout. I get a minor hint of salt, but I really have to think about it to notice. The creaminess successfully hides the 7.0% ABV.

Rating = 3.0

Oddly, I'll be reviewing another Oyster Stout next week. I received two as gifts recently, having never had an oyster stout.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Penobscot Bay Brewery: Old Factory Whistle Scottish Ale

So I know it's a little boring, but I'm reviewing beers from the same brewery in back to back weeks. In last weeks review, I gave their only other beer a simple 2. This week, well this week was better, but not ticker tape parade better.

Penobscot Bay Brewery's Old Factory Whistle Scottish Ale came in a 22oz bottle (as did it's brother beer, the blonde ale) and when poured into a Sam Adams glass produced a rather thick head. The beer itself poured cloudy, but quickly cleared up into a dark reddish brown color. I didn't immediately notice a whole lot of aroma to it though.

Normally, I'm a fan of a scottish ale, but this one was just kind of there. The first sip wasn't all that appealing to me, but after that the beer went down quite easily. Carmel seemed to be the predominant flavor, and I think it's abundance caught me off guard. After adjusting to that first sip, I rather enjoyed the rest of the beer. I'm going to give this one a middle of the road 2.5, but I'm reserving the right to review it again at a later date. It just wasn't what I was expecting and I think that threw me off a little. Methinks that next time I'm in Maine, I'll pick some up for my fellow Beer Crusaders to try, as I'd love to hear their opinions..

Monday, February 22, 2010

St. Victorious Dopplebock, Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA

So I didn't post last week, I was a bit under the weather, seems I got sick at Eileen's going away party. So the only alcohol I have been getting has been from the NyQuil. So even though I got sick, I had a fun time at the party drinking the Noble Pils and more importantly on the way home I visited one of my favorite liquor stores, Bauer Wine & Spirits where I found some Victory St. Victorious Dopplebock. I was excited to find the beer as Dopplebocks (aka Double Bocks) have always scored well with me in the past. I poured the St. Victorious into my usual stein and noticed the minimal head amongst the tiny carbonation bubbles. The beer tasted of coffee and left you with a bitter bite of hops and carbonation in the aftertaste. Although the beer is measured at 7.6% ABV, there wasn't an alcohol impact in the taste. The St. Victorious was good, but not great. I think if Victory had added some more chocolate malt to give it a richer taste to combat the bitterness I would have enjoyed it much more. That being said, I give the St. Victorious a 3.5.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Saranac Irish Stout, Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY

Saranac, a brand of the Matt Brewing Co. in upstate New York, has been around for a while (over 120 years), making them one of the oldest breweries in the US. The Irish Stout is one of their newest offerings, effectively replacing the Saranac Stout in the lineup. Not sure if the Irish Stout is also going to go into the venerable Saranac Black and Tan...

The Irish Stout is entirely what you would expect. Dark, nearly black body, tan head, mild aroma of toasted malt. The taste is spot-on, with maltiness, smokiness, and only a tinge of metallic/sour aftertaste. The sourness is quickly covered up by a slight sweetness, with a pleasant smoky finish. Basically, the Irish Stout is what you would expect: good quality beer true to the style.

The Irish Stout easily outpaces the Guinness 250 Anniversary, which I recently reviewed. I'd much rather have a couple of Irish Stouts.

Rating = 3.5

Great label, too...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Penobscot Bay Brewery: Whig Street Blonde Ale

Who out there loves a good blond? Me? I've always been a brunette kind of guy, and the Whig Street Blonde Ale kept true to my policy.

I'm not a huge fan of blonde ales, mostly because I haven't found one that totally tickled my taste buds. Most, in my experience, tend to be decent, but not exactly the most flavorful beer in the world. This beer poured a decent clearish amber color with little head. It went down smooth (as most blondes do), but there really wasn't much too it (another trait of the blonde). It was very drinkable, but not something I'm going to seek out. Mostly, I see this beer as a warm summer afternoon drink.

This would normally be the spot where I give you the alcohol content, but its neither on the bottle, nor on the website. I can tell you though, I had two glasses in one night, and my lightweight self didn't feel a thing. I'm going to guess it's somewhere in the high 4%abv. Not that it was a bad beer, but it just really didn't do anything for me, so I'm going to have to give it a rather mundane 2.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Feature

Hey Everyone check out the new feature on the blog. On the right hand column are links to all the brewers we have reviewed. Another handy feature that we hope you enjoy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Baltic Porter - Leviathan Series, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

The Baltic Porter is part of Harpoon Brewery's Leviathan Series - big beers sold in 4 packs. Somehow, despite our appreciation for well-made beers, we've managed to avoid reviewing anything from Leviathan (at least, since BC's review of the Imperial IPA in 2008).

Traditionally, a Baltic Porter is kind of a cross between a traditional English Porter and an Russian Imperial Stout. Basically, a well-made, smoky porter plus high alcohol and big presence. For this one, the ABV of 9.5% leads the way. From the first sip, there is a warming sensation, tempered by a slightly sweet flavor. The roasted malt aroma and taste dominates, including a nice smoked flavor. There is no real hop aroma or taste, and the scent of fruit (cherries?) and dark chocolate are very prominent.

For a beer with such a high ABV, this one is very easy to drink. Smooth and silky on the tongue. Very nice.

Rating = 4.0

There are a bunch of other beers from the Leviathan Series, and I've got them on my list. Based on the Baltic Porter, I'm looking forward to seeing what else Harpoon has in store.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sam Adams: Noble Pils

Two Sam Adams reviews in a row, sorry about that. Not the best of timing for my review, but it is billed as a spring beer, and February is the month where we could all use a taste of spring.

Noble Pils is the newest concoction brewed up by our wonderful friends over at Sam Adams. They used five different kinds of hops to brew it, and although my pallet isn't the most refined thing in the world, I swear you can taste each one, with some honey thrown in for good measure.

I hate to sound blasphemous, but this beer reminded me of a much better version of a Budweiser. It had a similar color and head, but more to the aroma and of course taste. It's a relatively normal 5.2%abv, so it doesn't pack much of a punch, but it does go down quite easily. I haven't had it out of the bottle, only on tap so far, but it has yet to disappoint. The taste makes me wish it was a warm summer day sitting out on the patio, but the cold snowy February night quickly brings me back to reality. Overall, I'm going to give it a solid 3.5. It was quite good, but not quite up to a 4 in my book, although I would be curious to hear what my fellow Beer Crusaders had to say.

Try it, you won't be disappointed...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Samuel Adams Utopias, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA

Let’s be honest, if you throw some barley and hops into something, we’re most likely to give it a try, but the Samuel Adams Utopias is a different kind of beast. Dropping $150 to $200 on 24 ounces of beer seems a bit ludicrous, but at a world record 27% ABV you have to be getting your money’s worth, right? That being said, I picked up the Utopias at a local liquor store, despite the shuddering of my bank account and chose to suffer this challenge for the benefit of you, the readers. I would like to point out that finding a bottle of Utopias in these parts would be considered a modern day Labor of Hercules, no one was carrying it, and if someone did have it, well they were talking $200. After being shut out of pretty much every reputable liquor store I can think of, I was hit by a proverbial lightning bolt and called upon the liquor store near my office that is best known for selling singles of PBR to the area transients. My thought process being, if they can only afford singles, I doubt they are dropping the cash for the Utopias. On a dusty shelf high above the cash register, there laid my Utopias.

I immediately hit the beer forums looking for suggestions on serving and storage. Unlike typical beers, the Utopias can be resealed, and thus does not need to be drunk in one sitting. In fact when the forum thought this was my plan several frantic posts about alcohol poisoning were posted. I mean I’m dumb, but I’m not dumb. Thankfully one of the posters suggested I read the tag on the beer and order the free (+ shipping & handling) Utopias glass that Sam Adams had made especially for the beer. I patiently waited for my glass and once it arrived I looked forward to Saturday.

On Saturday I gingerly opened the brew kettle shaped bottle, popped off the underlying cap. A quick whiff of alcohol followed by sugary sweet maple syrup aromas caught my olfactory senses. I nervously poured out 2 ounces of perhaps the most expensive drink ever into my Utopias glass. The absence of carbonation was quite noticeable. The reddish brown liquid filled about a third way up the glass. I lifted the glass to my lips and hesitated. I was 98% scared, 2% excited or maybe the other way around. The beer had stopped me in my tracks and I questioned whether I had put the Utopias too high on the pedestal. My wife eyed me with an air of suspicion with a bit of a grin. She could read my mind and when she saw my expression as I raised the glass and took my first sip, she whooped “You Hate It!” I can only haphazard to guess my expression; I surmise it resembled the look on Roger Rabbit’s face whenever he drank alcohol. My eyes bulged, my nostrils flared, my ears whistled and my bow tie spun. But my wife was wrong. My palette was just not used to the senses I had just inflicted upon myself. The malt, the hops, and the alcohol layered one on top of the other as if it had been put together by one of the Old Masters. The initial taste was like candied dry fruits, prunes, plums and raisins. The alcohol made a fiery passage through the mouth and up into your nose. The bitterness of the hops mimicked the bitterness you’d typically find in a wine as opposed to a beer. The viscosity of the Utopias resembled something too silky to be liquid. And let it be known the beer is GOOD.

I spent nearly 40 minutes with my Utopias, taking small sips here and there, in my life I doubt a beer has ever lasted that long once it had reached my clutches; I am not one to nurse a beer. During this time I pondered the rating for the Utopias and it definitely had me twisting and turning. I typically don’t like reviewing beers unless I have had a full 12 ounces to sample, to catch everything in 2 ounces is tough. Also I had a hard time thinking about the Utopias as a beer, its more cognac than beer. Alas, I found myself calling this a 4.0. The Utopias I feel is something you have to be in the mood for, and it’s something I feel I will occasionally sip, but only at the right time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

250 Anniversary Stout, Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland

Amazing, isn't it? Guinness was celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of their St. James Gate brewery, and decided to use the momentous occasion to introduce a limited edition stout. Great idea, really. Too bad it seems like a lot of marketing and only a touch of brewing.

As you'd expect from a stout, the 250 Anniversary is nearly totally black, with a light brownish head. It tastes just like a Guinness, but with a bit more to the body, almost like the difference between 1% and 2% milk. The aroma is unremarkable and a bit lost, coming through in spots with roasted malts and coffee smells. It is a bit stronger than the usual Guinness stout at 5% ABV, but not really noticeable.

Here's the thing: from the company that is synonymous with "stout", I expect something really special for their 250th anniversary. Like liquid gold in stout form. This beer is not nearly that good. You'll never tell your kids, "I had a Guinness 250 Anniversary, once, and I'll never have a beer like that again." And that is why I'm highly disappointed in this one.

Does this beer suck? No, you can drink it and enjoy a decent, quality product. Is it special in any remarkable way, like something that would be suitable for a 250th anniversary? No way. It'd be like getting a Fudgie the Whale cake for someone's 100th birthday.

Rating = 2.0

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Boont Amber Ale

So I moved recently, which is good and bad. Good because I'm in a new place in a great location, but bad because I'm leaving the best beer store ever behind. Sure I could make the half hour trip over, and I'm sure I will from time to time. But for now, I have to go exploring in my new neighborhood. Tonight brought me a nice new treat, Boont Amber Ale.

Brewed by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company in California, this beer... well this beer was basically a middle of the road beer. Nothing amazing about it, but nothing horrible about it either. Nothing that makes me regret buying the sixer, but nothing urging me to rush out and buy more.

At a rather pedestrian 5.8%abv, this beer doesn't pack much of a punch either. It did however pour a very healthy inch plus head and a great dark amber color. Everything about it was just.. okay. I feel like my fellow Beer Crusaders and I could have brewed this in our kitchen, so I'm going to give it an ordinary rating of 2.5. Like I said, nothing great, but nothing horrible.

Monday, February 1, 2010

India Pale Ale, Southampton Publick House Ales & Lagers, Southampton, NY

Looking out of the BC castle this weekend at the snow covered grounds, I was definitely hit with a tad of seasonal affective disorder, aka the winter blues for you guys not trying to busy yourself with big words. So when I opened my fridge I wanted a beer that would take me the way of summer and sun, and what better to do so than a beer from the Hamptons, Southampton Publick House India Pale Ale. The beer poured a frothy head with tiny little hop bobbles dotting the top. The coloring was a medium brown with an orange tinge and most importantly it smelled of beautiful hops. The Southampton hit me with a quick kick of bitter, that not only surprised me but dominated the malt. The hops definitely brought an apricot taste. The malt fought a good fight against the hops, but in the end the bitterness won out. Now, the Southampton wasn’t overly bitter to be disagreeable, but it had an edge that could have used a tad more hop balance. The 6.1% ABV is solid. As is the rating at a 3.0

By the way now that Jersey Shore has been renewed for Season 2, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jersey Shore: Hitting the Hamptons on next year and The Situation holding court at the Southampton Publick House.