November 12th, 2008 beckel
Today I get to drink a massive bottle of a very special ale from San Francisco, California’s Anchor Brewing Company, their 2008 Christmas Ale. Every year Anchor brews this beer with a different recipe and label but the same intent to give you a joyous brew to celebrate life. Though today is more of a bitter sweet day for me, I am sure it will be more joyous after 50.7 ounces of what is sure to be a tasty brew. The initial pour of this beer was probably more carbonated than the future ones will be but produced over 2 inches of a nice frothy light brown head that tastes of spices, caramel and nutmeg and settles in a couple of minutes. This beer really smells like Christmas , nutmeg and other sugary aromas mixed with some gentle dark malt scents including toffee. Color is very black with red hues slipping through when brought to the light. This is a very strange flavored beer. Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and surprisingly uncarbonated, with a rather light body . Sweet is the first word I would use to describe the flavor of this beer, largely toffee. There are other nice malt flavor to round off the taste but it also seems somewhat tart which is odd. This brew wouldn’t be a bad choice to crack into during the holidays as it would compliment all of the sweets you will likely be enjoying but I have a hard time finding a balance of flavors aside from the somewhat caramelized malt that seems to be the base of this beer. Because this recipe changes yearly I do not know its ABV but it seems to be suggested that past years have been around 5.5% ABV which I would say is likely accurate after my two small glasses. Certainly a unique brew an not bad, but far too much Christmas influence for me to purchase it again, though I’ll likely check out next years batch. If your looking for something gentle to spice up the holidays this may not be a bad idea, though it is probably not for those who won’t appreciate its unique qualities. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 11th, 2008 beckel
Here should ideally be another wonderful beer from the brewery that I have come to respect so much, Southern Tier from Lakewood, New York. Part of their Black Water Series of imperial brews this bottle states it was brewed in Fall 2008. It will certainly be a treat. When pouring this beer it initially seemed completely flat creating no disturbance as I poured directly into the bottom of my tulip glass, until then end of my pour where the beer was allowed to settle momentarily before creating a half inch of nice dark chocolate brown head that lasted for just under two minutes. The color is pitch black leaving light no chance of passing through this beer. The aroma is nice, I notice hints of coffee first, then black licorice and some softer dark malts, some gently caramelized. The flavors in this beer are solid, initially I notice simple dark malt on the tongue which evolves into sweet mellow coffee and chocolate flavors with a slight bitterness wrapping up the taste. Though this beer is 11% ABV the multitude of flavors do a wonderful job hiding its content. Though I am sure the oats in this beer aid in its smooth flavor I only occasionally catch them standing out. The mouthfeel of this beer is very smooth and not particularly syrupy, though the body is a bit heavy. Though I’m not regularly a big fan of dark beers the roasted but sweet dark flavors in this beer are wonderful and gently balanced with a slight bitterness making this a very quality brew. This would make a grand evening sipper for anyone who enjoys a flavorful but simple dark beer and doesn’t mind a solid alcohol content and some sweetness to compliment. To another lovely Southern Tier brew, now I get to restock my fridge without feeling guilty. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 11th, 2008 beckel
Today I can drink this beer hoping Avery Brewing from Boulder, Colorado got what they were desiring when they brewed this beer and that our system will follow through with that which it needs to do. “We the Brewers of Avery Brewing Company, in order to form a more perfect ale, require new leadership that can liberate us from our quagmires in foreign lands; embrace environmentally sound energy alternatives to imported oil; heal our ailing health care system; free us from tyrannical debt and resurrect the collapsing dollar. We hereby pledge to provide him with an ample amount of our Presidential Pale Ale to support in the struggle for the aforementioned goals!” Now I suppose this ale would be more appropriate to drink on January 20th as this beer is intended to celebrate inauguration day but I am an impatient beer geek and this brew has sit in my fridge for far too long not to tempt me to try another lovely Avery ale. Pours a mighty rather transparent red hue, producing a couple inches of white head that remain for quite a few minutes eventually evaporating and leaving a light lacing around the glass. The aroma of this beer is marvelous, at first I detect sweet malt notes that are immediately followed up and largely over powered by a number of different bitter aromas with only a slight alcohol scent present. The flavor of this beer is not quite what I had anticipated. Dry and almost flat tasting with loads of bitterness. Based on it’s aroma I expected more of a malt balance to this brew, but malt hints are very light and almost unnoticeable. The bitterness in this beer does its job though almost completely covering the solid 8.75% aBV. Though the immense bitterness of this brew turned me off initially, as I continue to drink you can start to notice some of the nice subtler and lighter hop flavors that are present in this beer as well as the light sweetness that sneaks in towards the beginning of a sip. The mouthfeel of this beer isn’t particularly heavy but is rather dry. The body is rather light as well. Though I wouldn’t say this is a balanced beer it certainly isn’t bad. As with most ales as you let this brew warm up a bit more of the subtle flavors come out; so I would suggest setting it out for a bit before consumption. If you like bitter hop filled beers you will likely enjoy this brew. Let us hope this beer’s bitterness is just a reflection of the previous administration and not what is to come. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 8th, 2008 beckel
So today we have the lovely session topic sent in by Matt C. of A World of Brews: What is your favorite beer and why? When initially reading this topic I as I’m sure many others did simply said; Fuck. With all of the great beers out there in this world, I have to choose one that is my favorite? As I rattled through my favorite beers I also had the conundrum that I have wrote about many of my favorite beers already, what was I to talk about. Then it came to me. My favorite beer is a beer that I haven’t had yet. I enjoy nothing more than walking through a liquor store and finding a craft beer or even a brewery I have never had the opportunity to sample. Furthermore any day I can find a brew that was obviously brewed with heart and an adventurous spirit all the better. Isn’t this why we love good craft beer? Conveniently I have just the brew sitting in my fridge. Lagunitas is a brewery from Petaluma, California that has recently returned to distributing to Minnesota. I have read about this brewery a number of times and they seem to be fun spirited, creative and straight forward and I have been awaiting the day I would find some of their brew on the shelves. So when I saw a bottle of their IPA Maximus I knew the time had come as Imperial IPA’s tend to be my favorite style. As you pour this beer it appears hazy as the carbonation cascades but once it settles this beer ends up completely transparent and a reddish copper in color. Off white head is relatively minor producing just under an inch, with most of it settling rather quickly. The aroma of this beer is wonderful, hoppy goodness is all over this beer, robust and bitter but still smooth with a few sweet scents. I’m glad I chose to open this beer today, it is immensely flavorful. Bitter flavors hit the tongue first and fill the mouth with a well rounded hop taste but malt flavors slip in adding a nice sweet balance to this brew. This is a full flavored beer but its mouthfeel is reasonably light as is the body. With a 7.5% ABV a few of these would be a delight any time of the year if you enjoy a good hop filled Imperial IPA, I will certainly have to purchase a some more. Now if I really have to answer the question of my favorite beer I currently can’t help but say Surly Furious. Of course as a Minnesota brew I can’t help but have a bias for it but Surly Brewing is a wonderful company and their Furious needs no bias to be enjoyed. My review of this wonderful IPA can be found here. Any hop love who doesn’t mind some nice bitterness will enjoy both of these beers. Give them a shot and ride your bike.
November 5th, 2008 beckel
Today we continue with another beer from the New Glarus Brewing Company; Totally Naked. While in Wisconsin I was happy to find this seasonal beer; the first sentence on the label “Pure and crisp, this is a beer with nothing to hide.” intrigued me and I’m glad I didn’t pass it up. Though this is a lager I was still excited to see what it had to offer. I am happy to say I was not disappointed. This beer is a nice golden color that is completely transparent and produces close to an inch of head that it doesn’t retain for long. This beer smells largely of grains, corn and sweet light malted barley with only a touch of the German and Czech hops in the aroma. Tastes as it smells, of corn and barley. Light sweet malt flavors with a slightly bitter finishing taste, definitely a lager but still decently full of flavor for the style. Mouthfeel is heavier than one might assume but still rather light, body is light as well. This is definitely a drinkable beer and would be an acceptable, even if slightly heavy, session beer coming in at 4.2% ABV. Though I rarely drink lagers if this beer were available in my state I would likely regularly purchase it for a nice warm day in the outdoors. As the name suggests this beer really has nothing to hide, it is simple, light, and drinkable but still very flavorful and worthy of every sip. As with all of the other New Glarus beers I have had the opportunity to try this is an easy going quality brew, a lovely choice for a day of drinking. Obviously not the beer to satisfy your hop hunger but still a dandy drink. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 3rd, 2008 beckel
Today we have an interesting beer with some interesting history. While browsing at Hennepin Lake Liquor I found a few of these bottles on discount and decided the only logical thing to do was give them a try even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After getting home and reading the bottle I realized that this beer is actually made by Left Hand Brewing from Longmont, Colorado who purchased Tabernash in 1998 also from nearby Denver, Colorado. As of this year the Tabernash name has been retired but Left Hand still brews this beer under their name apparently at a slightly lower ABV. With that said it will be curious to see how my bottle tastes as it has obviously been aged, but has no markings at all to suggest when it was brewed. The concept of a rye lager also intrigues me, so lets get to the beer. This beer pours a very nice completely opaque cranberry red color with no notable sediment. Producing a couple inches of light tan head of tight small bubbles that dissipate rapidly. The aroma of this beer is quite robust, dry but sweet cherry hits my nose first with gentle malt aromas mixing in with a slight alcohol scent in the end. This beer has an interesting flavor. At first I detect a somewhat sour cherry flavor that is rather quickly brushed away by a bittersweet flavor that seems to balance out nicely with the malted rye. This is a very smooth beer with a nice balance between sweet cherries and rye malts with a few off flavors here and there that seem to fade as I drink more of this beer. I will have to find myself a new bottle of this beer to determine if some of its slightly strange bitter and sour flavors are simply due to the uniqueness of this brew or due to potential over aging or perhaps improper storage. Slight alcohol and carbonation are noticed as I continue to drink which is sensible considering its 8.1% ABV. The mouthfeel of this beer is medium with its body a touch lighter. Overall I this is a very fine brew with some nice unique flavors and a wonderful balance that I didn’t expect, particularly from a lager. If you want a sweet but well balanced, somewhat lite but still full flavored brew this is absolutely worth your consideration. This beer would accompany a hearty meat and potatoes meal marvelously with its sweet but smooth flavors. Give it a shot and ride your bike.