Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland has been putting out a ton of beer recently. Two weeks ago I reviewed their Dogtoberfest, their take on an Oktoberfest style beer. I have yet another fall beer to review from Flying Dog. This beer is pretty special in the sense that Flying Dog uses a lot of local and unique ingredients in the making of this beer that “celebrate the season.” The bottle only indicates that this ale is “brewed with honey and spices,” but that’s not the whole story. This beer also has sweet corn, potatoes, green peppercorns, and grains of paradise in it as well. It sounds more like an ingredient list for a meal than a beer.
Secret Stash Harvest Ale pours a nice golden orange color and comes with a fluffy white head. The nose is really interesting as it changes as the beer sits for a bit. I first got some grapefruit, but not hops grapefruit. Some distant spice characteristics then came in but I couldn’t put my finger on the exact spice (probably peppercorn though). Finally some fresh honey entered the picture. All of these odors really mixed well together to create something that I haven’t smelled before.
On my first taste the hops were again not present, but the honey really hits. It is a light flavor, but once you notice it, you cannot stop noticing it. The spices then come in and judging from my notes, I thought it resembled nutmeg.This beer has a Belgian quality to it.
This ale comes in at 5.5% and it is something that I have never tasted before. I think it’s a pretty decent beer with lots of things going on. The spices really start kicking in as you get further into the drink, but not in a bad way. If you want to try something totally different, give this one a shot. Continue reading →
I have finally reached my last Oktoberfest of the year to review. This will be my 10th Oktoberfest of the year. Not too shabby considering that I don’t review repeats. My last Oktoberfest of the year comes from Pittsburgh, PA from the aptly named Penn Brewery, also know as the Pennsylvania Brewing Company. Whatever the name, they have gone through some big changes in recent years, including opening, closing, outsourcing, and opening again. Whew.
Penn’s Oktoberfest pours a nice copper color (like an Oktoberfest should) and has a white head. The nose is fully of toasty maltyness. There is some background lager sulfur, but overall this one smelled pretty good. The nose only gave a hint of the malt that lays inside of this beer. There is some slight caramel up front, which is quickly followed by a toasted honey malt flavor. It was a really nice transition and something that I haven’t had before. There is no hop kick in this one, and the sweetness from the malt is allowed to sit a little to long for my liking. There is some since biscuit on the aftertaste which helped the beer in my book.
This isn’t one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers but it is pretty solid. The lack of hops really shifted the balance of this beer. It is just a little too sweet for my liking. If there were some additional hops added to this beer it would really be a winner. Continue reading →
I’ve had a few Old Dominion Brewing Company beers since I moved to Delaware a year and a half ago. Most recently I had some of their beers when I was at the Good Beer Festival. Old Dominion is brewed about an hour’s drive down Route 1 from my house in Dover, De. I still haven’t gotten a chance to take a tour of their brewery, but I have a few free weekends coming up where a tour would fit in nicely.
The first thing that caught my eye about this Oktoberfest is that it isn’t spelled in the traditional way. See that “C” in there instead of the “K?” That’s not normal, in fact, I’ve never seen it on another Oktoberfest style beer. Old Dominion’s take on a Oktoberfest pours a nice copper color and it is crystal clear. The head is has a light tan hue to it, which was a bit darker than I expected. As a general rule of thumb on Oktoberfest beers I expect the head to be white the lighter the color. This one’s head was darker than most that are a similar color.
The nose is pretty straightforward with some slight malt and hoppy background. The hops were not like others, these hops were spicy and complimented the malt odor, not overpower it. The taste was more complex than the nose let on. The normal malt flavors lead into some very distinct caramel tones. The hops then come in and balance out the sweetness, but don’t take all of the sweetness away. The beer finishes with a nice biscuit dryness. I was surprised to find a little heat in this one as well.
I really enjoyed this one. For a beer that didn’t promise a lot based on the nose, it really delivered on flavor. Of note on the bottle, eight German malts and four hop varieties were used in the making of this beer. I guess that’s were the complexity came from. Good work Old Dominion, this beer will be on my repurchase list for next year. Continue reading →
On of my favorite beer blogs to read for interesting insights, The Mad Fermentationist, recently posted a pretty good rant about craft beer bottle sizes. You can read the full rant here, but a snapshot of the rant reveals two things:
Why do craft breweries insist on putting big beers in large bottles?
Why do large bottle cost more per oz than a smaller bottle? Shouldn’t be less?
I think The Mad Fermentationist did a great job at looking at the second point closely, but the first point really irks me with craft beer. It annoys me greatly that a lot of the wonderful big beers that can be had only come in 22 oz or 750 ml bottles. I don’t understand the idea of making big bottles of big beer. Shouldn’t higher ABV’s push the size of the bottle down not up?
I find it irresponsible to a point to put the high alcohol beers in larger volume containers. Beer isn’t like wine, it can’t stay fresh once opened. When you commit to opening a big bottle, you commit to drinking the whole thing. I’m not generally one who has a bunch of people over to share bottles with, when I drink, I do it at home with my wife and my dog. My wife isn’t a huge fan of big beers so it usually is up to me to knock out the large majority of a bottle of beer. There are times when a giant bottle of beer is just too much, but I can’t justify pouring some out or letting it go flat. I paid for the beer, I’m going to drink it.
Judging by the responses to the original post, I’m not alone in my thoughts. In some cases, I would actually be happy getting a 7 oz “pony” of a big beer than even a 12 oz bottle. In the homebrew world, big beers equal more production costs. I would be fine with paying 12 oz bottle prices for a 7 oz bottle of big beer. I doubt this would ever happen (with the exception of Rogue Ales who does a number of beers in 7 oz bottles) but I would love to see this come about.
While I know I’m not alone in my thoughts, am I being too picky or do I (we) have a legitimate grip here?
When I lived in Texas I had a good number of Shiner beers before I really ventured into other waters. The main reason was two fold: 1. they make a huge variety of beer, 2. it’s cheap. I was without a job for the first two and a half months of living in Texas, so cheap anything was high on the priority list. In my year down there I never saw Shiner Oktoberfest. Shiner, err the Spoetzel Brewery, is located in Shiner, Texas, a town of just 2,070 people according to the bottle.
In my round-up of Oktoberfest beers this one found its way into my basket. I’ve been disappointed by some of their beers in the past, but I hoped that this one would change that trend around. The beer pours a really nice orange color with a fluffy white head. The head quickly fades to a thin lace on top of the clear beer. Shiner Oktoberfest’s nose was lightly malty with some toasted notes in there. There was some distant sulfur, but nothing to complain about.
On the first taste the malt sweetness from the nose carried over wonderfully onto the flavor realm. I never really got a hop kick in this one. The hops fade in a bit, but never fully make their presence known. The aftertaste is what killed this beer in my eyes. It was metallic and just took away anything the beer had going for it.
I was really digging this beer up until the aftertaste. The malt was light and the hops were as well. Everything seemed to be in a decent balance, though a bit malt forward, and wham! metal. This isn’t the first time I’ve tasted metal in Shiner’s beers before. I don’t know if it is the water or something else, but it just destroys an other wise good beer. Continue reading →