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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve

A seasonal favorite of mine, especially while putting up the Christmas lights!
It is no secret by now that we love big aggressive IPAs. This one does not disappoint. It is big, medium bodied ale with a nice bitter hop finish. The interesting thing about this beer is the piney/sprucey flavors that come out. It screams holidays with that slight smell of pine trees coming from the added spruce tips which definitely inhance the hop aromas.
Although Rogue makes a lot of different beers, this one is always solid and makes the perfect holiday treat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stone Announces New Release to Jersey

So... here's a quick heads up to those Stone Brewing fans out there, I know I'm a believer in just about everything they brew.

According to their Facebook page, Stone is in the process of brewing a special "extra fresh" hop-bomb IPA called Enjoy by 9.21.12 IPA. And will be immediately shipped to SoCal, New Jersey, and Chicago. All I can assume is that as a state, New Jersey must spend a lot of money on craft beer to be chosen for this one. For more information you should check out their Facebook page or their website.

Here's to hoping a few cases make their way to South Jersey!

Cheers!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lagunitas | Maximus IPA

After what felt like an eternity, we finally got a fresh shipment of pretty much every pale beer from Lagunitas that comes in six packs. And I'll admit, I've been jonesing. The one up for review today:
Lagunitas Maximus IPA, essentially, it's their standard Double IPA. As they put it, "At the height of the heat in the heart of the summer, we felt the only cure was a raging mouthful of fresh Hops and Malt. Caution: May remove enamel from teeth."

Poured into a pint glass, Maximus has a crystal clear deep orange color, and a frothy off-white head. The head recedes pretty fast but leaves nice bits of sticky lacing all around.

The aroma is the first indication that you are drinking a Lagunitas beer. I don't know what they do differently, but all of their hoppy beers have a distinct aroma that is just freakin awesome. Maximus in particular has that trademark Lagunitas tropical fruit/mango aroma, but also has a boozy sweetness, and some spice added. Definitely hints at how beastly this inexpensive beer is.

The taste is no different, with a whopping blast of citrus, floral, and tropical fruit hop flavor. Pineapple, peppery spice, and sweet boozy alcohol warmth come into play nicely. The malt is definitely bumped up quite a bit compared to other hoppy beers from Lagunitas, but it still only plays a supporting role here. Which in my opinion, makes it perfectly balanced for an IPA; noticeable malt character, but only enhances the hop showcase. With a somewhat heavy mouthfeel, Maximus finishes semi-dry with lots of resinous hop bitterness.

This isn't my first time drinking Maximus, but it is the first time in a while, since I've been purchasing Lil' Sumpin Sumpin from Lagunitas as of late. That being said, I forgot just how delicious this beer is. It's strong, amazingly hoppy, viscous, and (as with all Lagunitas beer) very cheap!

Personal 9.5/10
Style: 9/10

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Divide | Rumble IPA

Rumble IPA, an oak aged IPA from one of my all time favorite breweries, Great Divide out of Denver, Colorado. Rumble is a seasonal IPA, that is "gently aged on French and American oak resulting in a wonderful balance of bitterness, caramel sweetness, vanilla, and undertones of pine and citrus."

Poured into a pint glass, Rumble has a deep orange amber color and a frothy finger of beige head. Full on sticky lacing coats the glass.

The aroma is an even blend of slightly bitter citrus and spicy hops mixed with a very biscuity/doughy malt character. The oak adds a hint of vanilla to the mix, but there isn't too much else to notice from the oak.

The taste starts with that hint of vanilla becoming a little more prominent, and it mixes up front with resinous hop bitterness. The doughy malt flavor takes over with some nuttiness and more vanilla thrown in. Rumble regains its bitterness in the finish, but still relatively smooth. Great mouthfeel on this beer, a good summer sipper.

Rumble is an interesting beer. It's an oak aged IPA, but the oak isn't very strong, and the hops aren't too intense either. The end product is more like a complex pale ale with a hint of oak. Definitely worth a try, since just about everything Great Divide brews is good, but not really a home run.

Personal: 8/10
Style: 7.5/10

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Liefmans | Goudenband Oud Bruin

Yes! A couple new sours in at the store makes me a happy camper! One of the new ales is Liefmans Goudenband, a Flanders Oud Bruin, which is a sour brown ale from Belgium. And it comes wrapped in blue paper…. how fancy.

Now I know many people are freaked out by sour ales, first off, they are Belgian, and as such, have traditional labels that are very unappealing. Secondly, who wants a "sour" beer? But I'm slowly coming to the realization that I enjoy my sour beers much like I enjoy my IPA's. You start off with a hint of hops, but soon you want to find the most intense bitter hop bomb you can get your hands on because you're addicted to that punch in the face; similar to people addicted to spice and hot sauces. So, I guess in a way it's a challenge to your taste buds, and once you get accustomed to it, which really only takes a few sips, you realize just how delicious the beer can be. With that in mind, switch out the bitter hops, and try punishing a new part of your tongue with sour ale!

Poured into a tall pilsner glass, Goudenband has an almost opaque dark red brick color that is only noticeable when held into the light. The head is tan and noticeably frothier than I expect with sours. Lots of patchy lacing all around my glass.

The aroma is strong of tart cherries, leather, vanilla, oak, and earthy brown sugar.

The first sip bites strong with carbonation, sort of a prelude to the sourness that flows in. Lactobacillus yeast, tart cherries and grapes dominate for a moment, but are pretty subdued by a very solid malt presence. The oak aging of Goudenband really takes the edge off the sourness, adding a delicious creamy sweetness. Perhaps my favorite part of drinking these sour ales is the mouthwatering effect they have after each sip. Even with a crisp and dry finish, Goudenband makes me salivate uncontrollably. Incredibly refreshing, even as it warms to room temperature.

A great beer to try if you're interested in sour ales, but don't want to feel like you're drinking pure vinegar. Still by all means a sour ale, but balanced well by rich malt flavor.

Personal 8.5/10
For the style (Flanders Oud Bruin): 9/10

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Uinta Brewing | Hop Notch IPA

Uinta Brewing's Hop Notch IPA, a relatively new year-round release from an eclectic brewery based out of Utah.

What sets Uinta apart as a brewery, aside from being located in Utah, is their motto "Earth, wind, and beer." They strive to keep everything as earth friendly as possible, as well as promoting the outdoors. From their bottles which are all adorned with a compass around the neck, to their brewery being 100% solar and wind powered, and even all of their spent grain used in brewing, is donated to local farms as feed for livestock. So yeah, they really like doing things the right way. Plus the label design and branding for the company is phenomenal; created by a great Colorado design firm, Tenfold Collective. The only thing about this brewery... I can't figure out how to pronounce the name. Yoo-ween-tah?  Ween-tah? Yoo-nee-tah?

Poured into a tulip glass, Hop Notch has a really nice looking deep amber color, with about two fingers of cream colored soapy frothy head. It's leaving behind touches of sticky web-like lacing, but not a whole lot.

Hop Notch's aroma is amazing. Big piney bitterness, big citrus, grapefruit, some sweeter fruit like apricot and pineapple, and still a nice amount of grainy malt in there. There's also a slight pepper aroma on the malt.

The flavor is no different, with a nice smack of hop bitterness and citrus flavors stinging the tastebuds. The first hop assault subsides momentarily to allow some caramel and mild peppery malt  flavors to shine. The hop intensity regains its dominance in the finish with resiny bitterness lingering long after each sip.

I'm extremely impressed by Hop Notch, it is a solid IPA with an abundance of bold hop flavor, balanced perfectly by a solid malt backbone, and it maintains a very drinkable creamy mouthfeel. Plus I love that it's right on the boundary of an IPA and a double IPA, which helps it stand out quite a bit against its regular IPA brethren. If you like IPA's, this is a must try.

Personal: 9/10
Style: 9.5/10

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sam Adams | Verloren Gose

Sam Adams Verloren Gose ale, an all but dead style of beer that the Boston Beer Co. is taking a shot at putting the defibrillator on. Originating from Leipzig, Germany, Gose beer is traditionally brewed with at least 50% wheat malt, and an addition of coriander and salt. Although these additions to the beer don't comply with the German purity law of 1516, it has been accepted due to being a "regional specialty."

With all that being said, I was very intrigued by this beer, so I bought one…. two months ago. And, expecting the worst, have been scared to try it. Well, today is the day to finally give it a try.

Poured into a weizen glass, Verloren has a somewhat hazy, golden amber color. The fluffy white head piles up nicely, but recedes kind of quickly.

The nose is spot on the style of a Hefeweizen, with a strong spice kick from the coriander. Lightly tart yeast comes through the spice, which adds a little bit of complexity to this unusual beer.

The flavor is much like the nose, very German style wheat beer, but the yeast is a little funkier than normal. Flavors of lemon peel, coriander, clove, and banana come to mind. The salt addition is just barely noticeable near the finish, but it is there. It almost seems to make the beer a little oily towards the end. But at least it keeps the beer from finishing too dry!

Overall this beer is much better than I feared it to be, but it's still a bit odd. It could be a placebo effect where I'm searching for the saltiness because I know it's in there, instead of just tasting the salt blindly. However, I would recommend trying Verloren, maybe not because it's the best beer on the shelf, but because it's cheap, and I've never seen a Gose style beer before. There's a good chance this is the only Gose beer you'll see in your life, so why not give it a shot?

Personal: 6.5/10
Style: N/A

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weihenstephaner | Hefe Weissbier

A rare Friday off work this week means I get to crack open a beer while the sun is still up! And with the sun out shining, the perfect choice sitting in my fridge is Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. A Bavarian style wheat beer from the "oldest brewery in the world," brewed since 1040. At least they claim all that, who knows if it really is the oldest brewery, but it's definitely older than any brewery in the USA.

Poured into a Sam Adams pint glass, Weihenstephaner has a cloudy dark golden color with a very large frothy white head. As with most wheat beers, this is a very attractive beer. Not too much lacing, but the high carbonation keeps the big foamy head around for most of the…. how-you-say… beer drinking experience.

The aroma, like most traditional wheat beers, is dominated by banana, clove, bubblegum, and light toasted grain. The banana aroma is the strongest out of the bunch.

The taste starts off very mild with a nice blend of banana and bubblegum sweetness mixing with light malt. A light hint of spice kicks in while the toasted cracker-like malt flavor intensifies through the finish. Earthy yeast, biting carbonation and a barely noticeable grassy hop bitterness finish just a little on the dry side.

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier is a wheat beer that sets the bar extremely high for the style, and makes it a very difficult style to improve upon. With centuries, if not millennia, of brewing tradition in Bavaria, it's no surprise that the wheat beers from that area are all world class, including the likes of Hacker Pschorr, Schneider, Ayinger. Some of which are harder to find than others. Of course there are American breweries that make a great Hefeweizen, but the Germans still make the best. It's a style we haven't quite mastered like we've done to the IPA style.

With all that being said, it's summer, drink a Hefeweizen!

Personal: 9/10
Style: 9.5/10

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Goose Island | India Pale Ale

After hearing great things about this brewery for years, New Jersey has finally been granted distribution from Goose Island. Lets crack open the India Pale Ale and see what all the fuss is about.

Poured into a pint glass, this ale has a bright yellow-amber color, with a nice 2 fingers of frothy white head. There is a very slight amount of haze to the beer and lots of foamy lacing stick to the glass with each sip.

The aroma is wonderfully abundant with piney and woody hops, as well as a smooth and sweet biscuit malt. The flavor is not far off of the aroma, with a balanced herbal hop spice and creamy malt flavor. Mild grassy hop bitterness creeps in toward the finish, hinting at the intended English IPA style.

The light body and slight creaminess to this IPA make it an easy sipping beer. While not an amazing IPA, it's a real treat of (what I consider) a session beer. The price is pretty good too! I'm sure I'll be picking up a six pack or two throughout the summer.

Personal: 7/10
Style: 8.5/10

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dogfish Head | Festina Pêche

Dogfish Head's Festina Pêche, a very popular, yet somewhat quirky summer seasonal offering from a brewery that likes to brew way outside the box. They call it a neo-Berliner Weisse, mainly because Festina Pêche has peaches in it. A traditional Berliner Weisse is fermented with lactobacillus yeast which imparts a sourness that on its own, would be off putting for most drinkers. So when drinking such a beer out at the pub, people will ask for a red (raspberry flavored) or green (woodruff flavored) syrup to be added to make the sourness more palatable. With Festina Pêche, Dogfish Head used peaches for the sugar in fermentation, and then infused more peach flavor and aroma into the finished product, so no syrups are needed.

Poured into a weizen glass, Festina Pêche has a cloudy, very pale golden color. The fizzy soda-like head stacks up high, but falls to a minimal ring. No lacing to speak of either.

The aroma is of light toasted wheat malt, somewhat floral, but with a nice hint of sugary canned peaches. There is a mild tart funk in the nose that doesn't necessarily sting the nostrils, but definitely makes its presence known.

WHAM! The first sip is like popping a peach flavored War-Head candy into your mouth. Intense carbonation, sweet peach flavor, and an unexpected sourness that throws your salivary glands into overdrive. The lactobacillus yeast really smacks you in the face upfront, but slowly blends into peach, green apple, and wheat malt towards the finish. Crisp, light and bubbly right to the end with a clean and dry finish.

Festina Pêche is really something else, it's not a typical German wheat beer, and it's not really like any Belgian flemish or lambic ales either. While I can't say I've had any other Berliner Weisse beers before, I am definitely a fan of the style. It's a shame that the style has fallen out of favor over the years. Anyway, I would recommend this as a great beer to drink on a hot summer day, and I have a feeling that if you're a fan of hard ciders, you might really enjoy Festina Pêche.

Personal 8/10
Style: ??

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV | Duvel

Duvel, the famous Belgian ale that has been known to spawn a beer geek with a single sip. What makes this beer so special is more about the process, and not the ingredients. Instead of the usual brewing and fermenting process, Duvel ferments with their own strain of yeast, then lagers the beer for 3 weeks. After lagering, they bottle it with extra sugars and yeast which sets off a secondary bottle fermentation. Lastly, the beer is matured for six weeks in cold cellars.

Luckily this four pack of stubby 330ml bottles I picked up comes with a free Duvel tulip glass, so I am once again in posession of a fine beer drinking glass! And doesn't it look great in the picture?

Poured into the aforementioned tulip glass, Duvel has a light golden color with a huge fluffy white head. Even with the tulip glass pinching the head at the top, it rises 3-4 inches. After a long wait the head does recede, and with it, sticky chunks of lacing are left behind. This is a good looking beer.

The aroma is a complex blend of lightly toasted pilsner and pale malts, mild spice, light lemongrass hops, and a unique dry, almost granny smith apple aroma. The flavor is similar to the aroma, with a sligtly sweeter fruity flavor throughout. The juicy fruit flavor gives way to some hop bitterness and a warming alcohol finish. There is an amazing crispness to each sip that begs you to come back for more. While there is a hint at some medicinal yeast flavors, they are very subdued.

Let's face it, this really is a phenomenal beer. Often overlooked due to its regular availability and plain label, but damn near the best Belgian beer ever made. Duvel is simple, yet complex, and with it's deceivingly high alcohol content, the Brabantians picked a great name for this great beer Duvel, or "Devil."

Personal 9.5/10
Style 10/10

Monday, May 7, 2012

Unibroue | La Fin du Monde

Unibroue's La Fin du Monde, or "the end of the world," is a Belgian style Tripel. Introduced in 1994, La Fin du Monde stands as the most highly regarded beer ever brewed in Canada. It has won a slew of medals over the years in various beer events; 5 platinum, 6 gold, and 1 silver from the Beverage Testing Institute. I guess this beer is supposed to be good or something.

Poured into a pint glass (don't shoot me for not using a tulip glass, it was broken last week. Moment of silence for my dead glass….) La Fin du Monde has a cloudy golden color with a big creamy and fizzy white head. The head recedes after a couple minutes, leaving just a fizzy ring of foam with limited lacing.

The aroma is complex and full of Belgian'esque characteristics. Sweet ripe fruit, pepper & clove spiciness, floral bouquet, sugary sweetness, powdery & medicinal yeast, and moderate alcohol all blend together quite nicely.

The flavor closely follows the nose, starting with a hit of the spice right up front. The powdery yeast fills in through the middle, with a sweet and warming, yet dry, grainy finish. Loads of malt and the sugary high alcohol lend themselves to a great medium-full bodied beer that really hits the spot.

What I really love about this beer is that it's a serious, high alcohol, Belgian style beer, but it's so smooth and easy to drink! La Fin du Monde does differ from many traditional Belgian Tripels in that it is a bit more spicy, and less bitter. Personally, I think this makes it a little easier to put down, since the finish is dry enough without added hop bitterness.

Another great aspect of this beer is the cost. For a truly world class beer, it is a steal! If you already drink Victory Golden Monkey or Flying Fish Exit 4, step up to the next level and give this one a shot.

Personal: 8.5/10
Style: 9.5/10

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tröegs | Dreamweaver Wheat Ale

Ah…. warmer times are coming, and with the warmth comes the need to drink lighter, more refreshing suds. The two 80 degree days we had last week motivated my decision to go for one of my absolute favorite styles of beer when the temps rise, Hefeweizen. Hefeweizen's or Weissbiers originated in Germany, particularly Southern Germany in Bavaria. If you break the word down "hefe" translates to "yeast", "weizen" to "wheat", and "weiss" to "white". The unfiltered wheat malt causes the pale cloudy appearance that is common in these beers, which its name is also derived from.

While I do love a good traditional German Hefeweizen, I decided to go for an American version this time, with Tröegs Dreamweaver Wheat.

Poured into a Weizen glass, Dreamweaver has a semi-cloudy golden straw color with two inches of fluffy white head. Pronounced carbonation makes this beer look very light in body, while retaining a creamier looking head.

The aroma is smack in the middle between light spicy clove/coriander and sweet banana. Mild hints of medicinal funk from the yeast are just noticeable in the nose, but really don't get in the way of the spice and banana tug-of-war.

The taste starts with a nice bite of carbonation that injects flavors of banana and bubble gum sweetness right off the bat. Clove spice and other yeast esters fill in through the middle, while the finish is rounded off by a lightly toasted malt. Crisp and refreshing all the way through.

A Hefeweizen really hits the spot for summertime day drinking, and Tröegs Dreamweaver is no exception to that. The Pennsylvania locals have done a great job in keeping with Bavarian tradition. While Dreamweaver is not my all time favorite wheat beer, it's a definite must try, and is without a doubt a better choice than the typical watery light beers you'll be offered at a summer barbecue.

Personal: 7/10
Style: 8/10

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

A Black IPA that actually delivers on its promise to be the best of both an IPA and a Stout! I was very skeptical before first trying this beer as every single Black IPA I have had was a complete disappointment (and I have had 12 beers of this style)

Stone is known for their focus on Hops and extreme beers. This was originally brewed as their 11th anniversary ale, but was so popular that they brought it back as a year round bomber.

When you first crack the cap a rush of hops hits your nose. It reminds me of Port Brewings Wipeout or Lagunitas Maximus IPA. It pours a nice two finger head with a black as night body. The taste is a perfect mix of hoppy IPA bitter citrus flavors and dark cocoa flavors that meld like a dissonant chord in a bittersweet symphony. A perfect beer for any season, it is light and refreshing enough for the hot summer weather but rich enough for the cold winter weather. Perfect for us hop heads looking for something slight different but still hoppy and delicious. Definitely the beat of both worlds! A must try!!

9/10 Personal Score
9/10 Style Score (Black IPA)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rogue | Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale, a specialty once-brewed beer from Rogue, inspired by a signature doughnut made by Voodoo Bakery in Portland, Oregon. The beer features all natural ingredients, so yeah, this beer has real maple syrup and actual bacon in it.

Poured into an Imperial Pint glass, Voodoo Doughnut has a moderately hazy, copper-red color and a large foamy off-white head. The head falls to a cm or so where it sticks around with little bits of lacing stuck on the glass.

The aroma…. sweet lord, the aroma. It smells like a delicious breakfast at the diner after a long night. Smokey well-done bacon, rich sticky maple syrup, and pancakes. Very sweet and smokey malt bill, with virtually no hop aroma.

The taste starts off with a very light crisp hop character before an onslaught of intense smoke flavor coats my tastebuds. Ashy smoke, burnt bacon… really interesting stuff. The finish introduces the sweeter maple syrup doughnut icing flavor that is so prevalent in the aroma, with the lingering aftertaste of sweet pancakes and bacon.

For the rich flavors in this beer, it's kind of surprising how light and carbonated the beer actually is. While it's not as light drinking as a pilsner, it sure is fizzy and easy to drink. This is a tough point on the beer, while I find it sort of watery, I'm enjoying the whole bottle; but if it was a thick full bodied sugar monster of a beer, I think an 8 oz glass would be enough. Personally I think it works great to give such heavy flavors a lighter body.

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale is probably not going to win the gold medal in any competitions, but I think it is absolutely worth checking out. Rogue shows they can make beers just as unique, if not crazier, than Dogfish Head, and the beer is good too! This is probably the only chance you'll get to try this beer, so just suck it up, pay the high price, and tell your friends you drank a maple bacon doughnut beer.

Personal: 8/10
For the style: Well if this is considered a brown ale: 6/10, but for a smoked beer: 9/10, since this has more flavor than an ashtray being dumped in your mouth.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Port Brewing | Old Viscosity

Port Brewing's Old Viscosity, an "American Dark Strong Ale," that "blurs the boundaries of Porter, Stout, Old Ale, and Barleywines." This beer is brewed, and then there is a 20% addition of the same beer that has been aged in bourbon barrels.

For all intensive purposes, I consider this beer an Imperial Stout more than anything else… maybe a strong ale. But let's keep things simple, it's a stout!

Poured into a pint glass, Old Viscosity has a thick opaque black color with a huge four inches of caramel colored head. This stuff looks super thick, beads of beer are sliding through the foam on the sides of my glass. After the head recedes some, there is a lot of sticky lacing left.

The aroma is chock full of sweet boozy alcohol, dark fruit, and a nice whiff of bourbon. Dark chocolate, vanilla, leather, and hints of coffee also make their presence known.

The taste is boozy alcohol up front, sweet figs and plums, followed by a smoothing oak character (leather, cocoa, vanilla, charred wood). The finish has a noticeable hop bite with a roasted coffee flavor that lingers for quite a bit.

My god this is an insanely smooth beer. Sweet and boozy, full bodied and syrupy with a somewhat bitter finish. Port is really proving their worth as the new hot beer in town. They make great IPA's, as a San Diego brewer should, but Old Viscosity shows they aren't a one trick pony. My fridge is full of stouts right now, and this one blows them all away.

Personal 8.5/10
Style 9.5/10

Friday, March 30, 2012

AC BEERFEST!

As I'm sure many of you already know, this weekend is the AC Beerfest, which will feature many craft beers from all around. Eric, Cyril, and Pat from White Horse Wine & Spirits will be there at tonight's session (Friday), so if you see us, come say hello!

Cheers!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dogfish Head | 75 Minute IPA

First time on our shelves, Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA: a blend of 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA with maple syrup added and bottle conditioned. Let's not forget the generous dry-hopping with whole cone Cascade hops.

Poured into a pint glass, the head stacks up very high, probably 3-4 inches of big fluffy off-white head. This ale has a moderately hazy orange/amber hue with tons of thick soapy lacing after the head recedes. This beer looks awesome.

The aroma is a nice blend of sweetness and bitterness. Citrus fruit is very noticeable, the likes of tangerines and grapefruit, as well as apricots and mangos. Sweet malt is backed with a definite hint of maple; not overpowering sweetness in any way, just that unrefined natural sugar aroma. A hefty swirl releases a bit more of a floral Cascade hop aroma.

The taste starts off with a fairly strong citrus hop punch. It's a bit spicy and floral, backed with the classic grapefruit flavor we all crave. Hints of pine resin fade in through the back end, while a deliciously smooth malt also creeps into the finish. The earthy flavors from the maple syrup smooth out the bitter finish of this beer perfectly. It's like the beer starts as 60 Minute, then finishes as 90 Minute.

One of the best features of 75 Minute IPA is the mouthfeel; it is out of this world. Light-medium in body with bright biting carbonation that builds into a velvety froth that goes down incredibly smooth.

Now I'll be honest here, I've never been a fan of 90 Minute IPA. It just seemed like a malt bomb, which isn't a bad thing, but I wanted more hops from it, since it's an IPA and all…. With that in mind, I almost didn't buy 75 Minute IPA when I heard it was a blend of 60 and 90, but man am I happy I did. This beer is the best of both worlds. It's super hoppy up front, but it maintains a great malt body, and the maple syrup addition is genius.

Better get this one while it lasts, we only have a couple cases!

Personal 9/10 for the style 9/10

The Bruery | Saison de Lente

Saison de Lente from The Bruery, a small brewery based in Orange County, California, that recently opened its doors in 2008. Averaging an output of only about 2,500 barrels a year, The Bruery strives to make unique and "experimental" ales brewed in the Belgian tradition. Most of their beers utilize a Belgian yeast strain, but the beer recipes themselves are sure to surprise and intrigue even the most adventurous beer drinker. Saison de Lente is the spring seasonal saison (saison actually means "season" in French and German) from The Bruery, which is a bit lighter in body, and slightly hoppier than the year round, Saison Rue.

Poured into a Stella chalice, Saison de Lente has a mostly clear golden-amber color with a fluffy 3 finger head. The foamy head falls to about a cm where it seems to have settled, while leaving plenty of sticky lacing along the way.

After a good swirl, the aroma gives off lots of grassy and lemony hops. Hints of peppery spice, powdery soft yeast, flowers, and a very slight hint of tart barnyard funk round out the nose.

The flavor starts off spicy and hoppy: citrusy, grassy… all in all, very lemony hop flavor. The middle introduces a bit of grainy and bready malt to the flavor, but still kept quite light and crisp. The finish is where Saison de Lente really shines. Mildly tart Brett yeast flavors become noticeable, while mixing perfectly with the hops, as well as more standard belgian-style yeast flavors. Although not bone dry, the finish is definitely on the dry side, think belgian pale ale, but a bit lighter.

Saison de Lente is only the second saison I've ever had, the other being Saison Rue, also from the Bruery. And if I'm being honest, I'm setting the bar for saisons way too high. The style always seemed a bit boring and high priced to me, since it's more of a lighter spring/summer style. But Saison de Lente does not disappoint! There is plenty of hop flavor, while maintaining light/crisp drinkability, plus the Brett yeast that adds an extra dimension of funkiness that we all love. At least I know I do. Mix things up, give this one a try.

Personal 7/10 for the style 8.5/10

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ballast Point | Sculpin IPA

After a bit of a hiatus, 2 weeks or so? Tap Talk is back with another review. Before we get started, I have to admit I'm very excited to say that we have been receiving some awesome looking new beers. Our craft beer section is pretty much bursting at the seams, and I do believe another shelf will be added soon to accommodate the serious growth. Yes, good things!

This next beer up for review is the Sculpin India Pale Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company, based out of San Diego, CA. While I don't know much about Ballast Point Brewing, I have heard plenty of hype about how "world-class" this IPA is. It certainly seems that San Diego is quite a hotbed of IPA brewing super powers though.

Poured into a chalice glass, Sculpin has a translucent pale golden color. The foamy white head piles up nicely at first, but recedes quickly to a moderately thick ring around the glass with some surface foam. While there is some lacing, it's definitely not the full on spider web effect that Stone IPA has.

After a good swirl, the aroma is all hop, not surprising since the beer is so pale. Fruity apricots, citrus, mango, grapefruit, as well as some bittering pine resin, pack a serious punch of hop aroma that is mouthwatering. This is seriously one of those beers that smells so good you wish you could have it as a candle or air freshener.

At first sip, Sculpin actually has a bigger malt presence than I anticipated. While not exactly "malty," there is definitely some sweet malt upfront to lay a bit of a foundation before the onslaught of hop deliciousness. The hop flavor starts out very juicy and sweet with lots of mango, apricot, pineapple, and grapefruit. Bitter and crisp grassy and pine hop finishes it out with a slightly dry finish. Even with all that bold flavor, Sculpin is remarkably light in body, extremely crisp and refreshing. Yes, many of us like our IPA's backed by a serious malt bill, but this one is truly special for packing such a punch, while maintaining the easy drinking mouthfeel of a pilsner. Not an easy feat!

It must be said that at my first sip, I thought this beer was a little watery and not all that special, but about 3 sips in, I realized how wrong I was. Not only is Sculpin IPA worthy of it's position at the top, but it's also just a regular IPA, not a DIPA. And to judge it against other IPA's truly proves how awesome it is. A great showcase of hops.

Personal 9/10 - for the style 9.5/10

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Lost Abbey | Judgment Day

The Lost Abbey's Judgment Day, a Belgian style Quadrupel ale brewed with raisins. 180 pounds of raisins per 30-barrel batch to be exact! It also has to be said that this beer has a pretty bad ass label.

Poured into a Chimay Chalice glass, Judgment Day, has a dark almost-opaque ruddy brown color, a fizzy tan head that recedes to spotty surface foam, and good chunks of lacing. The aroma is very boozy, lots of sweet alcohol, lots of sweet dark fruit like figs, raisins (it is brewed with raisins after all…), black cherries, some vanilla, spice, and a hint of bananas. This thing smells like a beast.

The taste starts with big malt sweetness, and a definite alcohol presence, but not nearly as boozy as the aroma hints at. Again, fruit flavors of figs, raisins, plums, etc. There's tons of rich maltiness in this thing; biscuity, chewy, and just really tasty. The finish gives a taste of some spicy yeast mixing with the sweetness that lingers for a while after each sip. Definite alcohol warmth with this one.

Speaking of sipping, Judgment Day is not a beer you want to drink fast. At 10.5% ABV, and the insane amounts of malt and fruit flavor, this beer is a monster. This would be an excellent beer to cellar for a while, as the bold malt and high ABV will lend to a smoother more rum-like product over time. If I had more self control I would age this one, but I know it wouldn't last more than a month. Sure would be nice to see what some time will do to this beast though.

Judgment Day was a little too over the top for my palate, but still an excellent beer. It almost seems like more of a dessert than just a beer. Maybe I should have paired this with some late night chocolate cake? If you think this will be a bit too boozy for your taste as well, but are still interested in the style, Lost Abbey's Lost & Found would be a great option. Lost & Found is sort of the kid brother to Judgment Day, still a Belgian strong ale (a Dubbel) and brewed with raisins, but toned down just a bit.

Back to Judgment Day:

Personal 7.5/10, for the style 8.5/10

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rodenbach | Grand Cru

Rodenbach Grand Cru

Yeah, it's time for another one of those unusual Belgian beers, this one being a Flanders Red Ale. Rodenbach Grand Cru sets itself apart from other ales because of the extensive maturing in oak vats that it undergoes. Then a blend of the older aged ale is mixed with younger ale (67%/33%) to create the "Grand Cru."

Poured into a tall fluted pilsner glass, Grand Cru has a transparent dark copper color and a soda-like fizzy tan head that disappears almost as quickly as it is poured. The aroma is quite pungent with powerful vinegar, sour cherries, apples, oak, hints of vanilla, and a touch of malt. Although this aroma is a bit odd for a beer, it honestly reminds me of smelling a magic marker. You know it smells like pure chemicals but for some reason it smells so good! Or maybe I'm just psychotic. Don't hold Eric to blame, it's only me (Pat) spewing this crazy talk.

The flavor is strong of tart cherries and grannysmith apples. The sourness is smoothed out a bit by sugary malt sweetness and woody notes before finishing crisp, earthy, and dry. Airy carbonation gives this ale a gentle mouthfeel despite it's rather full body. Not to mention the sourness adds that refreshing mouth watering effect that makes these beers so amazing. One of the most remarkable aspects of this beer is that all the sour fruit flavor you taste, is from the unique yeast and extensive aging; and no fruit ingredients or additives were used.

I'm going to quote Todd Alström from Beeradvocate here, since he puts it so eloquently, "Dear beergod, thank you. This is indeed one of the most refreshing beers on the planet. An absolute must try." I didn't think I was capable of being so poetic. Anyway, try this beer, you will not be disappointed. If you've never had a sour ale, Rodenbach Grand Cru is the one you want.

Personal 9.5/10, for a Flanders Red Ale 10/10.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Great Divide | Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Ahhh, the latest incarnation of Great Divide's famed creature, the YETI! Great Divide loves the Yeti, and rightfully so, has made the Yeti their claim to fame. There are currently six different versions of this beer, most being seasonal, and some being quite rare. Lets get a beanful of this one, the espresso oak aged variation. (yep, I really just said "beanful")

Poured into a pint glass from a 22oz bottle, this Yeti has got to be the thickest beer I've ever poured. It looks like melted chocolate flowing into my glass. Jet black in color with two fingers of brown foamy head. Excellent head retention, and lots of lacing are left after each sip.

The aroma is loaded with coffee/espresso, dark roasty malt, wet oak, and hints of alcohol. A good swirl releases moderate amounts of alcohol sweetness ranging from chocolate, dark fruit, and licorice.

The flavor is of smooth velvety chocolate and coffee with undertones of vanilla, oak, and sweet fruit. The finish has a lingering dark chocolate bitterness and perhaps a bitter hop character. It's baffling how smooth and rich this beer is. Definitely way too drinkable for it's own good; but I guess having the consistency of spent engine oil is only helping the cause. It's so sludgy that I bet it would cure a sore throat.

Granted, I haven't had KBS, CBS, or BCBS, regardless of that, this is definitely the best stout I've ever had. The regular Yeti is phenomenal on it's own, but the espresso and oak aging give it some serious oomph. Good lord is it delicious, and man is it squatchy.

Personal 10/10, for an Imperial Stout 10/10.

Great Divide | Nomad

Great Divide's Nomad Pilsner, in their words, "our spin on the classic Bohemian Pilsner style… with German malts and Saaz hops."

Poured into a pint glass, Nomad has an incredibly transparent, light straw color and a finger or so of fizzy white head that recedes to a ring around the glass. The color is so light if I didn't know any better I'd think I was drinking Coors light.

The aroma is of light grainy malt, grassy hop, slightly nutty, bits of lemon peel, and earth. This definitely smells like a European pilsner, with a very distinct Saaz hop profile, and a bit of that slight skunk.

The flavor is very similar to the nose, with a seriously pronounced grassy/herbal/vegetal taste: lots of flowers, grass, dandelion, etc. Spicy yeast and doughy malt also add a bit of backbone to this very crisp lager. The hop profile is definitely on the bitter side, which adds a bit of 'snap' to the beer, but can be a bit too assertive for some drinkers.

If you like Czech style pilsners then you will thoroughly enjoy this beer. It's really great to see American craft brewers making lighter lager styles, as it's still a bit of a rarity. Personally, I think it's the future of craft brewing, after the dust has settled from Imperial Stouts and Double IPA's of course. That's still a long ways off, but when you see Stone and Dogfish Head release year-round pilsners, it'll be a revolution. Anyway… Nomad is a fine example of a real pilsner, and would be a great way to work your way into the world of craft beer. It may look light and easy drinking, but this fizzy yellow beer has a hell of a lot more flavor than your 30 rack of Miller.

Personal 6.5/10, for a Pilsner 8.5/10.

Monday, February 13, 2012

West Coast IPA Throwdown | Stone vs Bear Republic

Thought we'd mix it up a bit here and do a West Coast IPA Throwdown. NorCal - Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA vs. SoCal - Stone IPA.

Both poured into equal sized pint glasses. Racer 5 has a golden pale amber color, the slightest amount of haze, and a minimal cm or so of white head that fell to a frothy ring. Stone has a very similar shade of golden amber, maybe a touch paler, and is crystal clear. The head on Stone IPA is large and white with big fluffy foam that leaves lots of sticky lacing as it falls to a finger thick of head. If you want to get nerdy about it, I'd say Racer 5 is about 7-8 SRM and Stone is around 6-7 SRM. For appearance - Stone wins that round.

The aroma on Racer 5 is strong and fresh citrus hops, light pine, sweet tropical fruit with slight hints of alcohol and lightly toasted grain. There is a mild sweetness on the nose. Stone IPA has a slightly more pungent fruity aroma; still very citrus driven, but a little more zesty and minty. It seems like Stone's dry hopping is a little more intense than Racer 5. This is tough, both smell incredibly good.... but I'd have to give the edge to Stone on aroma.

On to the best part, taste! Racer 5 kicks your taste buds with an explosion of crushing hop bitterness. Hops are citrusy, piney, fruity, and bitter. The malt comes into play to balance the middle with some bready flavors making it very savory and juicy before finishing with a grapefruit bitterness. The hops really shift into gear in the flavor more than the aroma leads you to believe. Stone IPA starts off a little easier on the tongue, but still quite bitter, with a good amount of spiciness. Lots of pine, citrus, tobacco, and minty flavors. Although the initial hop blast starts off slower than Racer 5, it gets more intense throughout each sip, and almost numbs your tongue with hop essence. This is a tough one to pick because it really depends on what your personal preference is. Therefore, for flavor, it is a tie. Both have equally distinguishable and delicious traits to them, and it is nearly impossible to say one is better than the other.

It would seem as though Stone IPA has won this battle, with a much better appearance and a slight edge on aroma. However, like it was said in the taste, it's still up to personal preference. If you were to ask which one has a better mouthfeel and is more drinkable, then Racer 5 would win. But if you were looking for the 1 bottle quintessential hop-bomb IPA (as if both aren't hop-bombs), then Stone IPA is the choice. The easiest way to break down the difference, for me at least, is Racer 5 is like drinking "hop juice," while Stone IPA is more like "hop spice." Which is better? Tough call, it's up to you. The least that I can say is, if you love IPAs, you NEED to try both of these beers. You will not be disappointed.

Winner - Stone IPA

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jolly Pumpkin | La Roja

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, an "artisan amber ale brewed in the Flanders tradition," comes from Dexter, Michigan. Put simply, this is categorized by most as a wild ale, which means that it uses wild yeast strains in fermentation. Jolly Pumpkin, in particular, allows open air from outdoors to flow through the brewhouse, which inoculates their beers for secondary fermentation. Then a blend is created from multiple batches aged from 2-10 months in bourbon or red wine barrels. So, even though the initial brew is created to follow a Belgian Flanders Red Ale style (which is quite sour itself), Jolly Pumpkin puts their own twist on La Roja, making it more "wild."

Poured into a flute glass from a 750ml bottle (blend 11 - bottled July 7, 2011). La Roja has a slightly hazy deep burnt copper color with a creamy light tan head. Head retention sits somewhere around the 1cm mark and there is lots of frothy lacing sticking to the sides of my glass. The smell is pungent and tart. Strong aromas of red wine vinegar, sour cherries, with hints of oak, spice, and very funky yeast.

The flavor, much like the aroma hints at, is very tart and refreshingly mouthwatering. Bright fizzy carbonation injects flavors of red wine vinegar, citric and lactic acids, Maraschino cherries, pomegranate, woody oak, and musty barnyard funk. The initial blast of sourness fades to a sweeter flavor for a moment, creating a delicious tug-of-war between sweet and sour. La Roja finishes just slightly bitter, with lingering tannins. This beer has a lot going on!

These sour ales, with their wild yeast strains and extended barrel aging, create a cacophony of flavor and aroma that is sometimes hard to put into words. If you are new to the style, you will without a doubt question that this is even a beer. It's something that upon the first sip seems a little off putting, but by the time you get halfway through your glass, you won't be able get enough of the delicious mouthwatering sensation created by the sourness. Unfortunately sour ales are often hard to come by, as the style is only recently gaining popularity in the US, and most are created in small, hand blended batches. This means that only a handful of the sours made in our country make it to nationwide distribution. That being said, don't be scared off by the somewhat higher price of Jolly Pumpkin ales, as they are well worth every penny.

Getting back to the beer in the spotlight... I mean, pint glass. La Roja is a very well crafted beer, and it's one that I justify the $12.50 price to treat myself to every few months. It's easily passed by, but definitely one of the most complex and delicious beers in our store. Personal 10/10, for the style 9/10.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sierra Nevada | Ruthless Rye IPA

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA, the new spring seasonal addition to Sierra Nevada's outstanding line of beers. This one boasts rye malt, chinook, citra, bravo, and "experimental" hops. Curious what those experimental hops are, but I'm sure they're delicious either way. As a side note before we pop the cap on this ale, Sierra Nevada recently announced the construction of their first east coast brewery! It will be located in Mills River, North Carolina, and should be up and running within 2 years. That is some exciting stuff.

Poured into a Chimay chalice glass, Ruthless Rye has a deep amber copper color. It is filtered and translucent, and it has a minimal light tan head with sudsy retention and very little bits of lacing. The nose is very hoppy and peppery. The hops smell sharp and fresh, very resinous pine hops with some bitter citrus shining through. The peppery spice of the rye malt comes into play without standing out enough to be overly spicy.

The taste is strong hop bitterness upfront, grapefruit, pine, and orange. The rye malt is more noticeable, adding peppery spice, as well as a dryness, which (combined with intense hop bitterness) add to its "ruthless" character. The caramel and chocolate malts become noticeable midway through, adding body and a smoothing, almost lager-like mouthfeel. The malts definitely help to smooth out the bitter bite from the hops, but they don't quell them altogether. The finish showcases a sweeter floral hop flavor and peppery spice, with just a hint at dry hop bitterness lingering after each sip.

Ruthless Rye IPA, is definitely a great addition to Sierra Nevada's lineup. Although some may disagree, I'm happy to see it replace Glissade for their spring offering. Despite the fact that Ruthless is an IPA, the rye, and other darker malts, add a great amount of body and complexity to a beer that's meant to carry us through the rest of the dark cold months, looking forward to warm weather, and good times ahead. And as an added bonus, the label artwork is really cool! For the style 8.5/10, personal 8.5/10.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rogue | Mocha Porter

Rogue Mocha Porter, once known as Newport Porter, in honor of the town of Newport, Oregon and home of Rogue Ales.

Poured into a Hoegaarden hex glass, this porter has very dark cola color that gets to a dark ruby around the edges. After a vigorous pour, the caramel colored head built up about three fingers or so before receding rather quickly. Minimal head retention and lacing, just little bits here and there.

The aroma is a mix of both bittersweet and milk chocolate, mild grassy hops, caramel, and subtle hints of coffee. While it's more or less in the middle, the sweetness just seems to grab my attention a bit more. The flavor starts out with creamy milk chocolate, caramel, and light coffee. Next, earthy/grassy hops that honestly seem a bit metallic in taste, give this beer a little bite. The hop flavor gets pushed back pretty easily by all the dark roasty malt flavor in the finish, leaving you with a creamy semi-sweet chocolate aftertaste.

Although this is a creamy mocha porter, it seems to be a little light in body, almost a little watery for the style. That being said, obviously this is going to be way heavier than a pilsner. Definitely a solid beer for the winter months, and/or to pair nicely with a BBQ meal or chocolate dessert. Personal 6.5/10, for the style 7/10.

The Lost Abbey | Devotion Ale

Ah... the famed Lost Abbey. To pick up with a bit more of the history lesson started in the review of "Port Wipeout IPA"....... The Lost Abbey is a brand of Port Brewing Company, and they are both brewed in the same brewery. As previously mentioned, that brewery, started in 2006, is in fact the old brewery of Stone Brewing Co. They (Stone) needed to expand and sold their brewery to Port. Though Port and The Lost Abbey share a brewery, the brands are geared at very different markets. Port Brewing is aimed at the American West Coast style of beers, generally very bold and hop forward. Or in the case of their darker beers, just well-made versions of American favorites. Lost Abbey on the other hand, focuses on complex Belgian style beers, many of which are barrel aged, and some are inoculated with a wild yeast strain called Brettanomyces. But, if you're a beer geek like we are, chances are you'll be interested in both brands! Anyway, lets pop the cork on this bottle.

Devotion Ale, the Belgian Pale/Golden Ale from The Lost Abbey. Poured into a Chimay chalice glass, this ale has a very hazy amber color with a big foamy white head. The head recedes pretty quickly with bits of sticky lacing left on the glass. The aroma is very soft and unobtrusive; hints of sweet doughy malt, yeast (very slightly funky), spice, citrusy hop (lemon, orange), and apple. Instead of one ingredient jumping out and punching you in the face, everything is working together in unison.

The taste starts very crisp and lively with notes of grassy noble hops, grannysmith apple, and lemon. Extreme effervescence upfront quickly turns creamy smooth, opening up sweeter bready malt flavors, spice, and oranges. Towards the finish, this ale gets drier and has a bit of a yeasty band-aid funk / tartness to it mixing with more lemon. This might sound a little off-putting to some, but it really makes it quite mouth-watering and refreshing!

The crisp, light, highly carbonated mouthfeel of this brew makes it pretty easy to drink, and there is no hint of alcohol present. At 6.25% ABV, this isn't necessarily a "strong beer," but for how drinkable it is, it can sneak up on you. Although it's quite different from most pale ales we carry in the store, Lost Abbey's Devotion is worth checking out. While not the bold piney west coast IPA type, this beer still showcases noble hop and yeast flavors in perfect harmony. If you liked Brooklyn Local 1, you will definitely like this one. Enjoy Devotion on its own or paired with light fare like cheese, crackers, breads  etc. Personal 8.5/10 for a belgian style pale ale 9/10.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Terrapin Beer Company | Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

Back to back Terrapin Beer Co. offerings tonight as we do another winter seasonal,  Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout this one being part of the Monster Beer Tour.  The tour consists of four Imperial versions of various styles for each season.  Tons of hops, lots of flavor, and high alcohol content is the norm for these truly huge beers.  This is definitely my favorite out of the four.  Although there is one that I haven't tried, Hopzilla Imperial IPA, which will be joining the tour for 2012.  I'll be looking forward to that one...hopefully we will get it.

Wake-n-Bake was poured from a 12oz bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.  It's black as night and a good inch of brown creamy head recedes quickly down to a thin layer.  More retention here than I saw from the Moo-Hoo.  That plume of effervescence is once again rising up to the top in the center of my glass.  As I swirl the beer there is a good amount of creamy lacing that sticks to the side rather than ooze down like it did with the Moo-Hoo.  

Wow, the aroma here is pretty much all dark roast coffee.  Alcohol is just slightly detectible as it is masked from the coffee smell.  They suggest jokingly that this would make a great beer to have with breakfast.  After smelling it I'm not sure that was actually a joke.  W-n-B is brewed with Jittery Joe's Coffee, a local Athens, Georgia gourmet Coffee company.  Wow, the intense coffee aromas make me wish Jittery Joe's was available in Jersey...guess I'll just have to settle for Wawa. 

As the first sip is taken, it is overwhelmingly coffee.  The coffee is almost so robust it could be compared to espresso with some alcohol taste.  Even though you can taste the alcohol,(this brew is 8.1%), it is hidden quite well by the intense coffee flavors.  On the back end you can taste the roasted malts and a slight dark chocolate taste as they complement the coffee taste quite well. This is a rich full bodied stout.  Very creamy and luscious as is goes down.  Great after taste as well.  An almost perfect representation of an Imperial Coffee Stout.  Don't miss this one as it will go fast!  Personal 9.0/10 and style 9.5/10.

Terrapin Beer Company | Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout

Terrapin Beer Company out of Athens, Georgia brings us a winter seasonal treat that for many of us is truly a favorite.  Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout is another sweet stout offering.  What sets this one apart from other brews such as Riverhorse Milk Stout and Southern Tier Double Milk Stout is that Moo-Hoo, as the name suggests, is brewed with chocolate nibs.  (Get it?  Moo-Hoo...Yoo-Hoo?)  Terrapin uses Olive and Sinclare gourmet chocolate nibs and shells along with lactose sugars to achieve a truly tasty treat.

Before we get into the beer review, just a quick word on Terrapin.  If you are a fan of Terrapin products you may have noticed for quite a while that the line has been pretty much non-existent in our area for quite some time.  Terrapin has been going through some financial issues that have actually led to part-ownership rights being sold to, cough cough, Miller-Coors brewing company.  A division of the mega brewer named Tenth and Blake Beer Co. has purchased less than 25% ownership of Terrapin.  This sounds bad but actually it will be quite beneficial to the growth of Terrapin.  Under the guidelines they will remain an independent brewery and will be bailed out of an all-encompassing debt that has kept them from brewing many of their specialty beers as well as over-all distribution.  A vast majority of Terrapin's production in recent months has only made it to the localized region around the brewery.  Now that they have been bailed out they will be able to expand their production capacity and hopefully their beers will be more readily available in our area.

 Ok, lets get started...Moo-Hoo (Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass from a 12oz bottle), as you would expect from any quality stout pours a jet black color with half finger brownish head that quickly disappeared with a decent hazing left behind.  Nothing too special here but there is a small plume of bubbles still rising up in the center of my glass after about ten minutes...this is a good sign.  Good creamy lacing creeps down the sides of the glass.

The aromas rising trough the middle of my glass are of strong coffee and dark cocoa.  There is no alcohol content listed on the bottle, but it is slightly detectible in the smell.  Chocolatey roasted malts are also at the forefront here.  Just an over-all very pleasant aroma.

The taste is of sweet dark chocolate and robust coffee.  The lactose sugars and cocoa nibs blend together well with one offsetting the other to provide a balanced taste...not too sweet yet not too bitter either.  This works quite well.  The alcohol is detectible but not over-powering.  The roasted malts are there but are somewhat hidden behind the cocoa and the sugar.  Decent carbonation remains even though the head has completely disappeared by now.  With the mouth feel being on the lighter side, this is an easy-drinker compared to many other stouts.  This is a great stout that I always look forward to this time of year...and now that Terrapin has expansion plans I wont have to worry about not ever seeing it again.  Pick this one up before it's gone for another year.  Personal 8.5/10 and style 8/10.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fegley's Allentown Brew Works | Always Sunny Pale Ale

Fegley's Brew Works out of Allentown, PA offers up their Always Sunny Pale Ale, a west coast style pale ale. Poured into a pint glass, this ale has a very pale golden straw color, and a minimal amount of fizzy white head. There is some sticky lacing on the glass, but that's about all the foam this one's got. The aroma is mainly full of sharp pine and grassy hops with some bitter grapefruit as well.

The flavor follows the nose, starting with refreshing light grassy hop flavor. The grassy hops mix with a very slightly sweet carafoam malt before the more bitter grapefruit and pine hops kick in. These flavors finish it out leaving you with a lingering bitterness.

Always Sunny Pale Ale has a very light crisp body and mouthfeel, which is definitely a plus for making it a session beer. But it's not really that special of a pale ale, and for the price, you would probably be just as satisfied with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Not to mention saving yourself about $5 for a sixer. Personal 5/10, for a pale ale 6.5/10.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Southern Tier | 2X Stout



Southern Tier 2X Stout...When we heard about this one we were definitely excited! Considering how good the Blackwater series is (Java Stout, Chokolat Stout, Oat Stout, ect.) it was probably a given that this brew would be another winner from Southern Tier Brewing. Where as the previously mentioned brews are only available in bombers, this new offering is in six packs.

This double stout is actually a milk stout or a cream\sweet stout. Milk stouts are brewed with lactose sugar which as you guessed is derived from milk. These sugars are unfermentable so during fermentation they remain in tact and add a sweetness and body to the finished product. Mmm sounds delicious.

So onto the beer. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark as night as I can't see through it as I hold it up in front of the computer screen...just like it should be. After the pour about a half inch of brown froth was left behind which quickly disappeared after a short time with minimal lacing. I was really expecting more from the pour as the sides of my glass are pretty much clean.

What the pour lacks the aromas make up for...dark roasted malts, coffee, espresso and dark semi-sweet chocolate are easily detectible here. They do a good job of masking the higher alcohol content as this one comes in at 8%. Things are already looking up: even though the head didn't stick around for long, the aromas are still very strong and inviting.

As you would expect from a milk stout, this one is definitely on the sweet side but not too sweet. Think coffee with milk and a couple spoon fulls of sugar. The chocolatey roasted malts also shine through and are not over powered by the lactose sugar. For a double stout I find this one to be rather smooth and easy to drink. Not too thick but thick enough. Sweet but not too sweet. Although if you are looking for any bitterness as some stouts do have, you will not find it here as the lactose sugars hide any hints of bitterness quite well.

Out of curiosity I looked up the score on Beer Advocate and was surprised to see that it didn't score as high as I thought it would. I am most definitely enjoying this one a lot and feel that this is a more than solid representation of a milk stout. If you like stouts, regardless of the style, Southern Tier 2X Stout is a must try! Personal 9/10 and for a milk stout 8.5/10

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Port Brewing | Wipeout IPA

Please pardon my bad photo, I didn't feel like stealing one from Google this time.

Port Brewing Wipeout IPA, first off it needs to be said how great it is that Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey are now available in New Jersey. It was only two months ago that I had my friend from California stashing bombers of the stuff into his luggage when he came to visit.

In case you're unfamiliar with the name, Port started as "Pizza Port" in the 90's as a couple of pizza brewpubs around San Diego that gained a lot of attention for their locally crafted hoppy beers. Their popularity grew so much that in 2006 they decided to open up a real brewery. One year later, Port Brewing was named 2007 Small Brewery of the Year & their brewer Tomme Arthur was named brewer of the year at the Great American Beer Festival. Then only 6 months after that, they won Champion Small Brewery & Brewer at the 2008 World Beer Cup. Lets hope the coming years will bring more rare and delicious beers from Port Brewing to the east coast!

Poured into a chalice glass, Wipeout IPA has a hazy golden amber color with a big fluffy cream colored head. A good amount of sticky lacing is left all over the glass, and there is still a generous amount of froth atop the beer after sitting for some time. The aroma is very hoppy, with lots of resinous pine and citrus fruit. There is a mild sweetness accompanying the bitter aroma, but it's more of sweet mango and pineapple than malt sweetness.

The flavor is of juicy tropical fruit; mango, pineapple, grapefruit, as well as resinous pine. There is a slight bitterness that does more of balancing the sweetness rather than get too astringent. Lingering hop bitterness finishes each sip. The hop flavor in this IPA is honestly... incredible.

With a medium body and mildish carbonation, it's hard not to drink this beer in 1 minute because of how delicious it is. Depending on your tolerance to bitter hoppy beers, you may disagree, but I find this to be refreshing and very drinkable. Not to mention, one of the best examples of a west coast IPA I've ever tried (it's hard to believe this isn't a DIPA). Here's to hoping we have some bottles left when I get back to work tomorrow! Personal 9.5/10 for an IPA 10/10.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Firestone Walker | 15th Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker's 15th Anniversary Ale is a once-brewed beer that is a special blend made from many of their other popular ales. This year's blend consists of:
18% Helldorado (11.7% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine.
17% Sticky Monkey (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine.
17% Bravo (13.5% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale.
13% Double Double Barrel Ale (11.5% ABV) Double Strength English Pale Ale.
11% Good Foot (14.3% ABV) American Barley Wine.
10% Velvet Merkin (8.6% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout.
9% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
5% Double Jack (9.5% ABV) Double India Pale Ale.

Yeah... that's a lot of stuff, and a lot of STRONG beers. As you might expect, this one is quite heavy (12.5%abv) and rightfully so, is in the style of "American Strong Ale."
 
Poured into a Stella Chalice, this ale has an opaque dark brown color that gets to a dark amber around the edges. There is a minimal amount of light tan head that falls to loose bubbles on the edges of the glass. The aroma is of strong alcohol, coconuts, licorice, coffee, and vanilla. It sort of smells like a blend of coconut rum and bourbon.

The flavor is strong and overwhelmingly intense. Sweet boozy vanilla and coconut start it off while it blends together with dark fruit, candied sugar, and licorice. Getting towards the finish there is a drier roasted malt espresso flavor mixing nicely with charred oak bourbon. In the end it finishes very smooth with lingering alcohol sweetness.

15th Anniversary Ale is definitely an experience, and I'm glad I had a chance to try this one (thanks Chad!). With that in mind, as delicious and complex as this beer is, I think it would be very difficult to finish it by yourself, at 12.5%abv in a 650ml bottle, this is a real sipper. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up before it's gone, and to offset the high price, split it with a friend. Personal 8.5/10, for the style 9/10.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Troegs | Hopback Amber Ale

Troegs Hopback Amber Ale, which they claim to be their flagship brew. Not too surprising to hear considering we all love their seasonal classic, Nugget Nectar, which is an imperial version of Hopback. This beer gets it's name from the (optional) brewing stage called "hopbacking," which is no more than a little airtight container filled with hops. The brewed wort flows into it, and essentially gets filtered through the hops before heading out towards chilling and fermentation. As you can imagine, this extra stage of hopping adds a significant amount of aroma and flavor to the beer.

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle, Hopback has a deep amber/copper color with a moderately thick light-tan head. The aroma is of sweet and bready malt with some floral and pine hop. Smells pretty balanced, slightly more on the sweet side.

The flavor starts rather smooth and malty sweet, but hop bitterness starts to creep in. Citrus, pine, and floral hops shine with a slightly bitter finish. The malt really holds up well here and keeps the beer very drinkable despite noticeably aggressive hopping.

All in all Troegs Hopback is a very smooth, almost syrupy ale, with LOTS of flavor. Simply put, it's smooth and sweet, with a crisp citrus & pine hop bite. Personal: 8.5/10 and for an amber ale: 9/10.