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Beer Review #186 90 Minute IPA

I have reviewed a lot of Dogfish Head beer on this is in recent month, but give a guy a break, I live in Delaware. I would be remiss if I didn’t support the First State’s first craft brewery. DFH makes some really great beers and they also make some beers that are just not my style, but you can never deny that they aren’t afraid to try anything (even if it is just for marketing purposes). 90 Minute IPA is the middle child of their famed IPA series, 60 Minute and 120 Minute being the other “young and older” beers respectively. DFH also makes a 75 Minute IPA but it is only released on draft and can be a bitch to find.

This IPA comes in at 9% ABV and is continually hopped from 90 minutes during the boil. It pours a nice orange-amber color and is crystal clear. The head is a soapy white with a good mix of bubble sizes. The nose has a nice hop odor to with with lots of floral and citrus notes. There is some slight sweetness mixed in behind the hops.

On my first taste I was surprised at the malt behind this beer. There is a solid malt backbone and some biscuit notes are there to add some nice depth of flavor. Before the malt really has a chance to settle in the hops come in and really give a good kick. The hops are in flavor what they were in smell, floral and citrus. I also got some grapefruit in there as well. The robust hops really dry out the beer well and help lead to a crisp ending.

I really dig this one. Of the “big three” this is my favorite. I found it to be nicely in balance and it had a really nice selection of flavors. For anĀ  Imperial IPA this one is fantastic. If you haven’t had this one before, go get it! (more…)

Beer Review #178 Old Man Winter Ale

I finally finished with the beers specifically labeled as “Christmas Ales” and I am now on to some winter beers. As I mentioned previously, I am going to cut off or seriously limit myself from seasonal beers after my current batch of winter beers is done. Anyway, today’s winter beer comes from Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York. As with a lot of breweries I write about, I have had a number of their beers, but I haven’t had a chance to get all of my reviews up on the site yet. I have generally liked everything that I have tried from this brewery, so they have that going for them.

Old Man Winter Ale pours a nice amber color and has a white head to accompany the amber liquid. The nose has a bit of citrus hops, but the malt really shines here. There is some of the normal caramel sweetness but also a nice grainy flavor that I really enjoyed.

This beer has a nice malt flavor up front with those classic caramels returning. I didn’t get any of the grainy notes from the nose upon tasting this one. The citrus hops in the nose follow through to the flavor but they also flood into a slightly piney hop. The pine flavor then coats the tongue, but doesn’t stay for too long as a spicier hops flavor comes in. Right at the end some biscuit and dried fruit come in to round out the beer.

I really liked this one. It was an interesting mix of malt and hops that lead to an enjoyable drink. I also love when a brewery combines ingredients in a way that makes them taste different than they normally would. Old Man Winter Ale only uses two types of malt and three different types of hops. As a homebrewer, the lack of malt variety is encouraging since a lot of people get complexity by adding tons of different types of malts to their beers. Well done Southern Tier, I will be grabbing some more of this beer shortly. (more…)

Beer Review #175 Breckenridge Christmas Ale

I know that it is after Christmas, but it is never too late to review a Christmas Ale (hey it’s still winter). I actually picked up this beers, along with the next two beers to review, after Christmas. The nicest part about getting a beer specifically labeled for a period of time is that after that time period has passed, they usually get discounted. Christmas Ale, as it is labeled, is brewed by the Breckenridge Brewery of Denver, Colorado. They are a pretty big player in the crowded Colorado beer market and I have generally found that I enjoy their beers.

Christmas Ale pours a nice burnt amber color and a nice thin white head compliments the color of the beer well. The nose isn’t intense in any way, but has some slight toffee and caramel. There are some dried fruity esters from the yeast present along with a slight biscuit flavor. The mix of odors was really nice and expected.

On my first taste a lot of what was in the nose came through on the flavor end. The toffee flavor outshines any caramel but they both provide a good solid sweetness and base for the beer. Some slight plum and biscuity goodness come in to add a bit of complexity. The hops, which were not present in the nose, come through nicely and help to dry out the beer. One thing that I liked was that the carbonation of this beer helped clear out most of the flavors at the end, leaving a crisp feel to the ale.

I liked this one a good deal. As a winter beer it was exactly what I was looking for. It had a wonderful balance and a good malt profile that clinches the win for this beer. The fruity esters also add a nice touch without becoming overpowering. I’ll make sure to get this one before Christmas next year. (more…)

Beer Review #156 Bonfire Rauchbier

I’ve never really been a big fan of smoked beers. I had one in college from a local unnamed brewery and it tasted like I licked the ashes of a fire pit. My friend who was with me at the time remarked that it tasted like band aids. Since that time I have had a few good smoked beers that fall into the smoked porter world. Boston Beer Company a.k.a Sam Adams released a Rauchbier with their fall pack this year. If you don’t know a Rauchbier is a German style beer where some of the malt has been dried by flame instead of normal heat. The flame imparts a smokey flavor to the grain, which in turn gives a smokey flavor to the beer.

Bonfire Rauchbier pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a white head. Certainly not what you would expect from something that promises smokey flavors, but that is what a Rauchbier normally looks like. The nose is what I will describe as a “meaty” smoke. There was some real body and depth to the smoke, like it had been put into a butchers smokehouse.

On the first taste I got (you guessed it) some smokey flavor. Behind the smoke was some really nice caramel and toffee notes that added a nice layer of complexity to the beer. Just like a lot of Sam Adams beers I find this one to be an approachable version of the style. There are more aggressively smoked beers out there, but this one is nice. It wasn’t too heavy on the smoke and allowed some other flavors to come through. I enjoyed it and my taste buds are warming up to the idea of exploring more smoked beers.

Beer Review #154 Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

It seems like the list of pumpkin beers grows every year. This year was no exception with many new beers coming out to the market or beers entering new areas. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the first beer that I have ever seen and tasted from the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. The first thing that drew me to this beer was that the label was put on upside-down. I guess that QA took the day off when they sent this batch out. Anyway, a label doesn’t take away from the liquid inside, but I am suspect of a brewery who doesn’t take care of details like this. It make me think, “if they don’t care about what their beer looks like, what else don’t they care about?”

This pumpkin ale pours a nice amber color with a bit of haze. There is an off-white head that floats on top of the beer below. The nose was nothing like what I had expected. It had some sour notes and that was about it. I didn’t get any spices, hops, malt, or pumpkins. Odd for a beer like this.

On my first taste I got a brief look at sweetness and then it was buried by spices and pumpkin flavor. The flavor was an unexpected surprise since the nose was so mild. There was a bit of a sour ending, but nothing like what the nose suggested.I also didn’t get any heat which I was expected for a 8.0% ABV beer.

I’m not sure what to think of this one. The pumpkin flavor is there, but not in a strong way and the spices are very deeply melded into the rest of the beer. I’ve heard from a few other people that this is a solid pumpkin beer so I’m going to assume that I got a bad bottle. It was still a good beer, but not what was promised. I’ll try it again next year to see if I can get a better sample of it.