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Beer Review #315 Olde School

03-03-02With yet another snowstorm hitting the east coast my mindset is squarely in barelywine mode. Unlike a lot of people, I love barelywines at anytime of the year, but there is something special about them as the snow is falling. They tend to be filling, warming, and just wonderful in all of the ways needed to survive the winter. Dogfish Head makes a ton of beers, but Olde School is one of my favorites. It comes in at 15% and is solidly in the “sipper category” of beers.

The beer pours a nice orange to amber color and is a bit on the cloudy side of things. It has a medium off-white head which lasts for longer than expected, being a high alcohol beer and all. The nose is complex and full, as a barelywine should be. The first thing that I get from this beer is grape and dried fruits. There is a bit of a sour funk in there, but in a big beer kind of way. If that makes sense. There is a lot of sweetness to the nose along with a slight heat. I always expect heat on a beer of this strength, but Olde School has a light touch on the nose in this respect. There are no real hops to the nose from what I can smell.

The taste is big on the malt. There is a slight roast on the end but a round caramel flavor comes in and really makes this beer chewy. The dried fruits are there along with some dark undertones to add a nice layer of complexity. There may not be a lot of heat on the nose, but it is very noticeable when tasting the beer. It’s a bit on the “too much” end of the scale, but all of the other components really draw me back. The hops make an appearance nicely in this beer. They are mixed throughout and give the beer a nice earthy flavor. They are bitter, but not over the top and help balance out the massive malt.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I really dig this beer. I think it fits in with the season and the barelywine style of beer. The bottle says “beer [that] ages with the best of ’em” and I think that’s 100% true. I have bottles of this beer that go back 3 years and it’s interesting to see  how the beer changes over time, but that’s a post for another time.  (more…)


Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)


Beer Review #298 3Beans

06-30-02I’ve been a big fan of Sixpoint Brewery for awhile. Ever since I first sampled their beer at the Good Beer Festival I’ve been wanting to try more of their stuff. My father-in-law generally keeps me well supplied with Resin when I visit but luckily, my local beer store recently started carrying a better selection of Sixpoint beers. Today’s beer, 3Bean, is an “ale brewed with natural flavors and with coffee added.” The three beans that give name to this beer are wheat, barley, and coffee. O, and it comes in at 10%.

3Beans pours a brownish black color with a light tan head that quickly fades. No telling if this one is clear or not. The nose has a slight coffee roast to it but not much else. I didn’t get any heat or hop flavor. I really didn’t even get any malt. I was expecting a bigger nose to a 10% beer. In my experience, big beers without a big nose, mean big trouble in terms of how easy to drink they are.

The taste starts with a slight roast flavor that then gives way to a good caramel. The roast in this case is not from the coffee, but it is decidedly a malt roast flavor. A little big of coffee squeaks in at the end to help round out the flavor and give some needed bitterness. Again, I got not hops in this one and I couldn’t detect any alcohol flavors in the slightest.

3Beans drinks very creamy and smooth. The flavor transition are gentle and it doesn’t smack you over the head with any one flavor. It is dangerously drinkable. I would call this beer reserved but balanced. They probably could have gone crazier with the coffee and malt flavor but the restraint that Sixpoint showed was very nice and keeps this as one of the easiest drinking big beers that I’ve ever had. Summer might not be the best time for this type of beer, but football season is only 10 weeks away!

Beer Review #188 Samuel Adams Imperial White

The Samuel Adams Imperial Series made a big splash when it came out a few years ago, but since then, I haven’t heard much about it. They recently redesigned the packaging and my local go-to beer store finally started carrying the new stuff. Boston Beer Company makes four beers in the series, all of which will be reviewed on this site in time (they are sitting in the fridge). Of the four beers in the series, I thought that the Imperial White would be the most interesting, since it seems to me to be a total conflict of the style.

This beer comes in at a solid 10% ABV and pours much like olive oil; thick and smooth. It hits the glass a nice burnt orange color and has a fair about of haze to it. There is a generous white head that didn’t seem to be significantly cut down by the high alcohol. Some heat immediately comes to the nose followed by some slight caramel sweetness. I also noticed a good helping of oranges with a slight citrus note. Finally there was some coriander, but not as much as I was expecting from this one.

Citrus and orange dominate the front of the beer with the coriander bringing up the rear. The middle was a bit empty. There is plenty of heat all the way through the ale. While this one looked thick on the pour, it doesn’t sit as heavy in the mouth thanks to plenty of carbonation. The overall taste really wasn’t bad, but the unrelenting heat was just too much for me to enjoy this beer fully. I understand this is an imperial beer, but that doesn’t mean that alcohol should be a dominate flavor. If you haven’t tried this one yet and you want to try something different, you might want to look at this beer. (more…)

Is beer just another drink?

My wife and I have been having a discussion recently if beer should be considered just another drink like coffee, milk, or soda. I am of the belief that beer is in fact, another drink. She believes that you need to be careful with beer and you cannot just classify it as “another drink.” Her reason is two fold. First, beer, particularly craft beer, is more expensive than any other drink. If you break it down and do the math, it is.  A typical six pack is going to cost you about 10 bucks for 72 ounces worth of beer. There are 128 ounces in a gallon so that works out to 1.78 six packs per gallon or as I like to refer to them as SPPG.

128 ounces per gallon ÷ 72 ounces per six pack = 1.78 six packs per gallon

I am going to ballpark this here and say that the typical six pack is going to range anywhere from $8-12. So doing the math a gallon of delicious craft beer is going to come in between$14.24 and $21.36. Alright she has me there, it is expensive. The other argument is that beer and alcohol in general can cause health issues along with addiction. We both come from families where alcoholism runs in our blood. Somehow neither of us seem to have a problem with controlling ourselves or needing a drink. While this is a real problem for thousands, it doesn’t really hit home for us.

I am from the school of beer is another drink, a very, very wonderful drink. I don’t see a problem with coming home from work one night and having a beer or two. I agree with my wife (and I am assuming most of you) that drinking like crazy when you come home isn’t a good thing. But I don’t see the harm in having a beer or two every few days.

The best man at my wedding told me of his roommates in college who thought he was crazy to have a beer with his dinner. He is also of the belief that beer is just another drink just in case you were wondering or couldn’t figure that out. Anyway his roommates believed that beer was for drinking a lot of or having without food and just to feel good. No so. Beer is essentially flavored water with some alcohol in it. Most beers are made of of 90-95% water.

When I was in college the closest big brewery was Stoudt’s Brewing Company in Adamstown, Pa. They also happen to be one of the first regional breweries in the country and have an excellent reputation in the craft beer world. Ed and Carol Stoudt are also some pretty awesome people (and Carol is a great brewer). Anyway, while taking a tour of the brewery last year Ed talked about the health benifits of beer and exclaimed that he has almost a six pack a day and is healthy as a horse. While I don’t know how much of his story was for show, and I think drinking that much per day on a regular basis is a terrible idea, beer defiantly does have its own share of health benefits. But that is a post for another time.

Yes alcohol can be an addictive substance, but lets take a look at a few other common drink favorites; soda and coffee. Those two drinks are packed with caffeine, which is one of the most addictive substances know to man kind. Alcohol pails in comparison in addiction levels to caffeine. Why are those drinks OK when they can lead to health complications as well?

Yes beer can be expensive, but I don’t think that it shouldn’t be considered an acceptable drink to have for any occasion because of that. There are addiction risks and possible health complications associated with improper use of alcohol, but that also applies for other commonly accepted items as well. What are your thoughts on have a beer randomly? Is it acceptable to have anytime or something just for the weekends?