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03-03-00

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 #252 Backyard Ale

Not too long ago I reviewed a beer from Flying Dog Brewery and I have yet another one today. I can generally count on seeing a new beer from them every time I visit the beer store. They put out a lot of solid beers along with an amazing variety. They have to rival Dogfish Head in terms of number of different beers produced.

Backyard Ale didn’t have any descriptors on the bottle, but a 7.5% alcohol rating. The beer pours an amber color that matches the label. There is an off-white head that sits firmly on the top through the whole drink. The nose is packed with malt and has a slight smoke to it. I didn’t get any hops, just malt and some smoke.

There is a nice sweetness on the front end. It wasn’t malty or caramely, just sweet. It is then followed by a smoky-sweet back end. The smoke is help in a really nice balance with the sweetness. Unlike some smoked beers that I have had, the smoke isn’t center stage. It fits into the beer nicely and provide a nice flavor additive.

This one wasn’t bad. It took me back to the summer months when I was BBQing in the backyard. The smoke actually goes nicely with the late fall as well. One of my neighbors has a wood burning stove and on cold night the air is full of wood burning goodness. This beer makes we want to sit on the deck and look at the stars while taking in the smokiness.

Beer Review #247 Fall Summit Ale

I have finally gotten rid of my turkey hangover (to be clear, from food, not booze) and I am back to beer reviews. I asked if anyone was having anything special for Thanksgiving on Facebook, but I never answer the question myself. I had lot’s of homebrew along with today’s beer, Peak Organic Brewing Company’s Fall Summit Ale. I really enjoy POBC for their ability to capture a fresh, clean, and crisp hop nose.

Fall Summit Ale pours a nice orange amber color and has a full white head. It looks like a nice fall beer, the color matches the season. The nose has bunches of bright citrus hops. This beer doesn’t smell IPA hoppy, but the clarity shown by the hops is really nice. The hops really fill the nose and push everything else out of the way. In short, it’s wonderful.

There is a bit of malt up front which is followed by a good toasted, nutty malt flavor. The citrus hops do not stay at bay for long and flood in and wash out everything else. Unlike a lot of beers with a flood of hops, this is a nice transition and just leaves you wanting to take another sip.

I really liked this one. I wouldn’t consider it a fall beer as it doesn’t really have anything to do with season, but it is really enjoyable. Peak continues to live up to its name.

Beer Review #228 Inlet IPA

16 Mile Brewing Company has been on the local beer store’s shelves for a little over a year now and, until recently, I haven’t seen anything new. The last time I went to the store I was happy to find two new beers from them. They also stopped bottling beers in 16 oz. aluminum bottles and went to the typical 12 oz. glass bottles. 16 Mile Brewing Company is in the small down of Georgetown, DE, which is not terribly far from Dogfish Head. I’m always happy to help out a small local brewery so I picked up a few more bottle than what I normally would have.

Inlet IPA is an English-style IPA that comes in 6.1%. Unlike American IPAs which are all about the hops, English IPA take greater pride in the subtle complexities that malt can offer. This ale pours a nice clear orangy amber color white a medium density white head. The nose has a slight bit of hops, but nothing like a “typical” IPA would offer. There was a nice sweetness coming through and the hops had a caramel flavor attached to them which I really enjoyed.

The nose really offered some serious hints to what this beer was going to taste like. There were some nice strong caramel flavors upfront that were quickly followed by some English ale esters. I really enjoyed the complexity that the esters added to the beer. The hops are there, but, again, not like a typical IPA. Instead of being biting, these hops form a great backbone to the beer that meshes up very nicely with the malt.

I found this beer to be very drinkable, but I think it would really shine on a colder day. The malt is sweet and it sticks to you all the way down. I’m going to be getting this one again once the fall hits to really enjoy it fully. If you like malt forward beers this one might be a good one to try. It will obviously be hoppier compared to most malt forward beers, but I don’t think that you will be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #208 Ruthless Rye IPA

I’m not sure how long this beer has been out, but it recently showed up on  the shelves of my local beer store and it hasn’t left since it showed up (like a lot beers tend to do). Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of  Chico, CA and it is obviously a rye IPA. I’ve had a number of different takes on rye beers (pale ales and doulbe IPAs among others) and I have really liked the extra flavor component that it gives a beer. It imparts a very distinct note to the malt character of a beer that fits perfectly with hops.

Ruthless Rye IPA pours a nice amber color and has an off-white head. The nose is packed with bright hops that leap out of the glass. The hops are full of citrus aromas with some piney smells lingering in the background. There is also a spiciness to the nose. Some people might attribute this to the rye as rye is often said to be spicy in beers, but I think it is more from a mix of hops than anything else. Maybe the rye does impart a smell, but I didn’t notice it enough to make note of.

On my first tasting I was impressed with the amount of malt that comes through on such a hoppy smelling beer. The malt is very nice and slightly sweet with a good amount of rye flavor. The spiciness pops up again but it is slightly different than a hop spice as a spicy hop flavor comes in quickly after the rye flavor departs.

I found this beer to be super drinkable and something that I could have on a regular basis. I plan on getting more so that I can try to construct a homebrew recipe around this beer. I liked it that much. The flavors are very balanced and while the hops are prevalent, they are not the stars of the show. The balance is what is key to this beer and the rye flavor just adds a cherry to the top of this one. (more…)