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Beer Review #204 Red Oak Amber Lager

A buddy of mine recently brought be a bottle of Red Oak Amber Lager from the Red Oak Brewery. According to my friend, Red Oak was the local craft brewery of choice for students of Wake Forest. The Red Oak Brewery is located in Whitsett, NC, which is about an our from Wake Forest. Before I received this bottle, I never heard of Red Oak. I really liked the bottle of this beer, and my wife shares the same thoughts. It has a unique shape and has a small, but powerful feel to it, along the lines of the Sierra Nevada bottles.

Red Oak Amber Lager pours a amber color and has a thin white head. The beer is perfectly clear and the light passing through the amber liquid looks great. The nose is pretty simple, but very nice. It starts with some nice malty odors and flows into some hints of bread. There is some very light sulfur mixed in there as well.

After the first taste I was surprised by how clean this beer tastes. There is some slight caramel upfront which is followed by some really nice bread flavors. The bread really dominates the flavor on this beer. It is a clean bread that is supported by some background sweetness, but it stands on it own. There is not a lot of hop flavor but there is just enough to clean out this beer and give it a crisp ending.

This is a super drinkable beer. I could easily sit down and knock out a six pack or two of these while watching a baseball game. There is nothing that stands out on its own in this beer, but it is super easy drinking and tasty. If you are looking for a unique craft brew you are not going to find it with this beer, but if you are looking for something with flavor and that is very drinkable, this is a good one to have. (more…)

Beer Review #199 Vinyl Lager

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The first beer that I opened from my spring samples of Magic Hat Brewing Company beers was Vinyl Lager. This lager comes in at a respectable 5.1% ABV. According to Magic Hat’s website this beer is classified as an amber lager. I would also suggest that you check out the page previously linked for the weird intro video for the beer. I don’t think that I have ever seen a intro video for a beer before, but the weirdness works.

Vinyl Lager pours a nice amber color with a thin, off-white head. It is crystal clear as expected from a lager. The nose has lots of nice caramels with a touch of sweetness. There is some nice bready flavors in there as well. I didn’t get any hops, but there was a slight fruity spiciness that I can only assume came from the hops in the beer.

On my first tasting I was surprised at how clean this beer tasted. There are plenty of caramels and some slight toffee but the sweetness is controlled. Once the sweetness fades a bit there are some really nice bread/biscuit flavors that come in. Just as you start really enjoying the bread/biscuit the hops come in and help dry the beer out. This is not a hoppy beer by any means, but the hops do assert themselves in a positive way.

I really liked how clean tasting this beer was. Each component had its time to shine and then was cut by a new flavor. When I first smelled this beer I felt like it was going to be a sweet, malty lager. What I got was a balanced beer that was not overly sweet. I can see myself enjoying this beer during a spring sunset when the cold air is pushing the warmer air out for the night. While there is nothing super special about this brew, it is solid and drinkable. (more…)

Beer Review #67 Festbier

It’s the time of year when the fall beers are rolling out. I have about a dozen pumpkin, Oktoberfest, and fall style beer lined up so far, and that’s just from one trip to the beer store. Today’s beer is Festbier from Victory Brewing Company. Festbier is actually not a seasonal brew anymore, Victory brews this year round but it can only be found in bottles September through November.

Victory describes the beer as “a rick amber lager in the tradition of Oktoberfest.” They also brew this beer with a decoction mash, which basically means they take some of the wort out of the mash tun, boil it, and then throw it back into the mash tun. By doing the brewing method, you get a very strong malt component added to the beer.

Festbier pours a brilliant amber color and is perfectly clear. The pours with a thin white head that quickly fades to nothingness. The nose is very malty, which is to be expected as I mentioned earlier. There are some bread components in there as well. I didn’t notice any hops or ABV on this beer which isn’t super surprising.

On the first tasting you really get a sense of the malt component. The beer has a very nice body. Festbier is a slightly sweet beer, which, with all of that malt, should not come as a big surprise. There is a nice slight hop bite towards the end, but it is very approachable. I love beers that have a nice bread aftertaste, and Festbier delivers.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer. It comes in at 5.8% ABV so you don’t have to plan an afternoon around drinking this beer. It has a nice malty body and not a lot of hops. It should be a dream for a new comer to the craft beer world but is a solid choice for the seasoned expert. I enjoyed every drop and I am going to be getting another six pack soon. I can’t wait to have my patio door open and enjoy a crisp fall night while sipping this and watching my Phillies play in October. (more…)

Beer Review #57 Old Scratch Amber Lager

Continuing with out week of Flying Dog comes Old Scratch Amber Lager. This beer may be a lager it according to the brewery it is fermented at medium temperatures to develop both ale and lager characteristics. If your not sure what that means hear is a quick review. Ales are brewed at warmer temps usually 60-70 degrees and because of the warmer temperatures, they have a quicker fermentation period which causes the production of a few esters that impart their own flavors on the beer past what the raw ingredients do. Lagers are brewed at lower temperatures usually 35-50 degrees and take longer, but also result in a beer that is much cleaner. These are just the basics because each style of beer could compose parts of another. From what I read, this beer uses a lager yeast at a higher temperature so you would expect it to be clean tasting, but also have more esters than a normal lager.

Old Scratch Amber Lager pours a beautiful amber color, I guess that’s were part of the name comes from. It had a nice off-white head and was perfectly clear. The nose was malty with some slight bread components. I didn’t really get any hops on the nose from this beer. There were some earthy components in there as well, which could of been mixed in with hops but they didn’t really stand out all that much.

On the initial taste I wasn’t hit with a lot of flavor. There is a little malt sweetness along with those bready flavors that were on the nose, but there really isn’t much else. Some slight caramel notes can also be found. The finish had a nice hop crispness to it. Nothing overwhelming, but dried out and finished the beer nicely. The mouth feel is light and watery, but it does have a very nice carbonation.

This beer is very clean. There isn’t a lot of flavor to be found but it is drinkable. Old Scratch comes in at 5.5% ABV and sports 19.5 IBUs. This would be a good beer for someone just getting into craft beers. While the flavor notes are not terribly strong, it blows away a mass production beer in every way. Even if you are not new into craft beer, this would be a good summer beer as well as it is light and refreshing. If you get it don’t be expecting to have your typical American Amber Ale, but a much lighter version that clean out very nicely.  (more…)