Many of the first reviews were of Troegs Brewing Company. The reasons for this are two fold 1.) They make lot of good beer, and 2.) They were the most accessible craft beer when I first got into craft beer. Since that time they have been in my regular buying rotation as I still have a fondness for their beers. Sunshine Pils is a spring/summer seasonal release of theirs that I never actually tried until this year. Generally when I am looking for a good PA pilsner, I go for Victory’s Prima Pils, but seeing as this was a new beer to me, I grabbed it.
According to the bottle, Sunshine Pils comes in at 5.3% but Troegs website says 4.5%. In any case this beer looks exactly like a pilsner should. It is a golden straw color and has a brilliant clarity to it. A thin white head sits atop the beer below and slowly absorbs back into the liquid. The nose is a bit more complex then what I was expected. The first thing that gets you is a good solid malt, which has a grainy, fresh quality to it. The odor is on the sweet side with some bits on honey mixed in there. I didn’t get any hops in my attempts to find them.
The taste very much follows what the nose promised. It starts off with a honey sweetness that has some notes for grain as it goes over the back third of your tongue. There is a really nice earthiness to this beer which I wasn’t expected. It has a real handcrafted quality to it that I have not found in many pilsners. The hops finally make their appearance at the very end of this one and give a slight noble hop spiciness that dries everything out enough to keep this beer from being too sweet.
With the exception of the earthiness, this is a pretty standard pilsner. It was nice, balanced, and refreshing; all things that a pilsner should be. I wish I had tried this beer soon as it would have really helped those summer classes in my college days. Continue reading →
I hear a bit of press when this beer came out so I decided to pick myself up a bottle. I’ve been waiting for a time to try it and I could think of no better then a day off in the middle of the week (score). Ovila Saison is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and comes corked and caged, a first for a beer that I have had from them. This beer comes in a 7.0% and it is actually a series of beers that Sierra Nevada is undertaking. You can read all about the series here, but basically they are brewing traditional Belgian beers with monks in California. I had no idea monks really existed in the U.S., but cool.
Ovila Saison pours a light orange color with a slight cloud in the middle. There is a generous white head that floats atop the liquid below. On my first smell I was surprised at how flat the nose was. There were some dull Belgian spices in there, but no malt, heat, or anything else to really make note of. Generally I expect a bit more out of the nose of a Saison but there is always room for me to learn more.
A nice smooth malt is the first thing to shine on the first sip of this beer. There are some really good Belgian spices that come in and help finish out the beer. I really have nothing bad to say about how this one tastes. It is super balanced and the spices come in at just the right time. Not only are the spices timed correctly, but they are just strong enough to fully balance out this beer.
I wouldn’t call this one super complex but I might look to it for inspiration when brewing a similar style of beer. I really enjoyed this one. It is everything that I hoped it would be and it is presented in such a nice, clean way. If you see this one around, try it out. This is a poster child for what a Saison should be. Continue reading →
Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The other new beer that Magic Hat sent me as part of their summer sampler was Elder Betty, a elderberry weiss. I’m generally not a big fan of fruit beers, but I am a fan of Magic Hat #9 which is an apricot beer, so I know that they know what they are doing with it comes to fruit beers. The big key with fruit beers is not making them too sweet. Many times a beer will have a great flavor, but the sweetness to get the desired flavor overwhelms the beer. I don’t think that I have ever had elderberries in a beer prior to this one.
Elder Betty pours a nice light orange color. It is very cloudy and has a nice white head. The nose is super fruity with the elderberries taking center stage. Behind the fruit there are some bits of bread and toasted oats, but the main character in the odor of this beer is berries.
On my first taste I was surprised that the berries didn’t show up right off the bat. Rather, a nice honey malt flavor took center stage at the opening. A mild berry flavor comes in, but it is not nearly as strong as the nose promises, which is a good thing. There is some slight bread at the finish but no signs of hops. This beer finishes a bit too sweet for my liking, but as I have said before, I think that a lot of fruit beers finish too sweet. There were no hop flavors present to help dry Elder Betty out.
This isn’t a bad fruit beer and I would actually consider it one of the better ones that I have ever had. The berry flavor is mild enough to not totally kill this beer. I think my favorite part about this beer was that I wasn’t burping berry flavor for the whole night. If they could just find a way to dry this one out a bit more it I would enjoy it much more. For a guy who really doesn’t like fruit beers, this one was rather drinkable. Continue reading →
Today I have a new limited release beer from Dogfish Head called Urkontinent. To make this beer DFH asked people what ingredients they would like to see used in a beer. They then narrowed down the choices to five. The bottle has this to say about the beer, “ale brewed with wattle seed, amaranth, rooibos, myrica gale, and honey.” I have no idea what any of those things taste like except for honey so this review is going to be fun. O yeah, I forgot to mention that this beer comes in at 8% ABV.
Urkontinent pours a nice brownish color with hints of ruby near the light. It has a medium tan head that quickly collapses on itself leaving just a hit of what was there. The nose is very malty with a lot going on. To be honest, I couldn’t identify all of the smells, but a nice malt sweetness was the big winner with some nice deep dark chocolates in the background. I love trying new and different beers but I hate when I hit a roadblock on describing flavors and smells. DFH does a good job of confusing my tastebuds.
On the first taste I thought this one was a little strange. There is a slight fruitness to the beer along with some heat. The chocolates from the nose are well mixed into the background. There was a slight “Belgian grape” flavor that ran throughout this beer. One thing that kind of threw me off about this beer was how thin it was compared to the ABV. I was expecting something thicker, but this one was water thin. I wish it had a bit more chew to it, but I did find it refreshing.
I apologize for not properly describing this beer, but I just don’t know how to react to it. There are a number of subtle flavors that a better tongue could identify, but I just can’t. I do know that I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I enjoyed the taste or the experience/challenge more. I guess this is one that you have to try for yourself.
Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The nice folks at Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me another sampler of beers, this time for their summer line-up. Later this week I will review the other beer they sent me, but today’s beer is Pistil. Pistil is a beer brewed with dandelions, that’s right dandelions. They have always been a strange beer ingredient to me, but my buddy Pete has brewed a few beers with dandelions with varying degrees of success. According to Magic Hat’s website, there are a number of other ingredients that are used in this beer that make it a bit strange.
Pistil pours a light golden color and it is super cloudy. A thick white head comes out of the beer but quickly fades back into it leaving just a trace on top of the liquid. The nose is sweet with hints on honey. I got a light toasted smell on my second whiff. There were no hops to speak over and nothing that would alert the drinker that they were about to try something brewed with dandelions.
On the front end of the beer you get some light malt flavor; raw and grainy. It then carries into a light fruity flavor. A slight spicy hop kicks in right at the end to help finish out the beer. I found the end of this one to be slightly grassy. Along with the all of the other flavors, this beer is slightly sour which really works well with everything else going on. I don’t know what dandelions taste like in beer, but I’m not sure if I could detect them even if I did.
This beer isn’t bad and would make an excellent light summer beer. It’s a bit different than your typical summer beer which is nice. I would give this one another one a try when the summer decides to turn the outside thermostat up a few degrees. Generally these types of beers I find to be a bit “gimmicky” but this one was actually very drinkable. This is a perfect transition beer for someone just getting into craft beer or someone who has never had a craft beer before. Continue reading →