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.