November 11th, 2010 beckel
Today I have another beer provided by Lake Wine & Spirits’ Citizen Six Pack and one of the few brews I have yet to sample from the good people at Odell Brewing. If you couldn’t guess Isolation Ale is Odell’s Winter Seasonal and is sure to be a welcome treat on this rainy Minnesota evening.
Pours a deep almost ruby red hue that is very translucent. One finger of tight off white bubbles are produced and provide a lovely presentation, hanging around for a minute or two. Smells of sweet malt as is expected for the style, followed by notes of caramel, soft grapes, cherries, gentle roasted malts and very little alcohol. Notable specialty grains are present in the flavor, likely Caramel and Biscuit Malt. Followed by enjoyable malty sweetness that is contrasted by a gentle tartness that reminds me of cherries. Soft hoppy bitterness adds a nice citrus character and helps distract from the sweet malt base present in this ale and provides a nice finish. Caramel and cereal grain esters dominate making this 6% ABV Winter Warmer very approachable and sessionable. Body is relatively light and the mouthfeel is very clean and well carbonated for the style. If you are into malty brews and prefer them to be on the sweet side, but not cloying, this beer is a good choice. Like most of Odell’s Year Round and Seasonal brews this is a very approachable yet quality beer that most people will enjoy. As it warms more diverse fruit esters appear creating a more intriguing beer, but the alcohol also becomes more notable as the sweetness lessens. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
January 6th, 2010 beckel
Here I hold one of the most intriguing and illusive collaboration ales of 2009 with a mere 20 cases making their way to my state of Minnesota. This bottle was brewed and bottled in Norway at the inventive brewery of NÃ¸gne Ã˜ with the help of the wild brewers of Jolly Pumpkin and always intense Stone Brewing Company. While I was unable to sample this ale last year when the first batch was brewed at Stone I am very pleased to have the opportunity to sample this the 2nd time around. Most of the unique ingredients used in this brew are local to the regions of the three breweries including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from Southern California, and Norwegian juniper berries. Both Stone and Jolly Pumpkin also brewed this ale on their setups this year but I do not believe either will make it into my local market unfortunately. However if you live near California or Michigan you might be lucky enough to find some. On to the good part. This ale pours a very opaque dark brown hue that appears black until you bring it to light. A relatively tight light brown 3 finger head is slowly created but quickly opens up and fades with in about 3 minutes leaving only a small ring of carbonation around the surface of the ale. Aroma is quite interesting with a herbal spirit like quality that i believe is coming from the juniper berries and somewhat reminds me of a gin but with different esters. A modest amount of alcohol is noticeable as well as gentle roasted notes. Flavor is very unique with strong herbal notes of sage, caraway and juniper easily showing their way through the solid malt profile of this ale. Finishing with a delicate nuttiness and a bit of alcohol. The combination of malted barley, rye and oats delivers a wonderfully clean and smooth mouthfeel but frankly I wish I could taste them a bit more over all of the herbal notes present in this ale. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV this is certainly a winter warmer and an easy one to drink at that with a relatively light body for the style. Over all this is a rather sweet herbal ale with very little bitterness present but enough roasted esters to give it a bit of contrasting flavor. An interesting and creative ale with a multitude of ingredients that certainly shows the skill and creativity of the brewers. If I manage to stumble upon a bottle brewed by Jolly Pumpkin I would be very curious to see what some aging in their lovely funky oak barrels might do to this recipe. While I am still in search of a Holiday Ale I particularly love I will give this ale plenty of credit for potential. If you are a fan of herbal holiday ales and dig juniper berries this might just be the ale for you, if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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.