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Beer Review #273 Saint Saltan

02-26-03Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

Magic Hat Brewing Company was nice enough to send me some samples of their spring seasonal variety pack. Included is today’s beer, a Rye IPA, and a second yearer Pistil. I’m not going to re-review Pistil as I have already done it here, but it was much more flavorful then I remember it being. I remarked last year that it would be nice on a warm day, but I had it while it was sleeting out and found it very quenching. Anyway, on to today’s beer, Saint Saltan which is a Gose that comes in at 4.6%. The brewery has the following to say about the beer:

A pious piece of a seldom-brewed German style, Saint Saltan is tart, light and crisp. Salt and coriander combine with traditional Hallertaur hops to create a holy and sessionable sipping experience.

Saint Saltan pours a nice golden color with a slight haze that clears as the beer sits. There is a thin white head that also fades as the beer is allowed to breathe a bit. The nose is nice and bready along with some honey malt odors. It is actually a little grainy and smells fresh. I didn’t get any hops or anything else to make note of. The earthy grain smell is wonderful on this one.

On my first taste I was actually surprised to taste a nice bit of salt. Usually I’m not a fan of salty beers (especially in IPAs) but this beer’s salt component is minor, but noticeable. The slight salt then fades into a mild sour note. As I continued to drink the beer the salt and sourness faded away and some really nice malt flavors came out. Nothing on this beer is super assertive in the flavor department but each piece says quiet and comes out in stages. It was really interesting to taste the flavor progression on this one. You usually don’t get sour notes that fade away, but they really do on this one.

This beer is easily drinkable and enjoyable. At 4.6% you could easily knock a few of these out in a sitting. It’s not my preferred beer style per say but I did find myself disappointing that they send a limited number of samples. If anyone from Magic Hat is reading this I would like to demand more free samples /sarcasm. This beer is pretty solid and I think that I would enjoy it while watching my Phillies fail in Spring Training. (more…)

Beer Review #270 Bluegrass Saison

02-14-03As you can tell from the leaves on the tree in the background of the photo, I first had this beer a little while ago. I just finished my last bottle so it’s review time. Bluegrass Saison, or just Saison is brewed by the Bluegrass Brewing Company of Louisville, KY. A friend who lives in the area brought a six pack of this beer back for me after a visit. I’m also out to try a new Saison so I happily took the sixer.

Bluegrass Saison pours a clear orange color. It has a fluffy white head that deflates to half of its original size and then stops. The nose has a nice sweet caramel malt odor along with some honey. There is also a slight sour note along with a bit of funk. I tasted this on the first through last bottles that I tried on this beer and the flavor didn’t change, so I’m assuming that means it is there by design. Nothing wrong with a little funk but this wasn’t your typically “wet hay” smell.

This beer is surprisingly grassy for a Saison. It’s nothing compared to some other beers that I have had, but it’s the most grassy Saison that I have ever had. The malt flavor is really nondescript as the high carbonation level really washes it out. There is a slight sour note through this beer and it ends with a hint of bread. I didn’t get a lot of Belgian yeast characteristics from this beer. Bluegrass Saison stays light in the mouth while staying balanced, but not very flavorful.

This beer is good but not great. There are lots of other Saisons that I prefer to this one. The funk either needs to be a bit more forceful or it needs to get out of the way. Perhaps a different yeast strain or fermenting temperature would benefit this beer. Again, it’s not a bad beer, but it just doesn’t measure up to others that I have had. (more…)

Beer Review #264 Winter Ale

01-24-03After my last experience with Weyerbacher Brewing Company I made it a point to go out and try more of their beer. Since it is FREAKING COLD OUT, a winter ale seemed appropriate. While this beer’s label reminds me more of Christmas, I was still happy to see the sight of snow. At 5.6% this beer is on the low end for the normally high alcohol winter beers.

Winter Ale pours a nice brown to dark caramel color. It’s wonderfully clear and it looks wonderful in the light. The light tan head that comes with the pour quickly fades to just a thin layer. The nose is packed with rich malt. In particular I noticed lots of caramels and toffee. There are some bread tones in there as well. Finally, a winter beer that smells like a winter beer!

The taste follows what the nose promises. On my first taste I get lots of caramels and sweetness up front. There is a flat bitterness on the back end that was nondescript. The bitterness does not totally balance this one out and it stays a little sweet. The beer finishes with a note of bread, which I always enjoy. What I did find interesting in this beer is that it tingles on the back of the tongue.

This beer is more along the lines of what I think of when I try a winter beer. Rich and malty and a slow sipper. It’s not packed with alcohol and that’s cool in my book. I really like a malty, fully flavored beer in the winter. It just gives you a warm, full feeling that is enjoyable when it is FREAKING COLD OUT. (more…)

Beer Review #248 Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale

I previously posted about Boulevard Brewing Company’s Smokestack Series coming to my local beer store. I’ve enjoyed most of their beers but until I had a Smokestack Series beer, I wouldn’t have gone back to them for much. That all changed when I had a chance to try some of their “special” beers. Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale comes in at a wonderful 10.5% ABV and I hoped that it would fill my need to find a quality go-to quad.

This Belgian inspired beer pours a nice caramel brown with hints of orange coming through when held up to the light. The off-white head quickly dissolves back into the beer as expected of a beer with this amount of alcohol. The first thing I got off of the nose is heat. There is some light caramels in there along with a slight Belgian spice with fruit and melon. I was expected a bit more out of the nose but I also poured this one colder than it should have been, so some of the odors might have been masked.

The taste is really nice on this one. Smooth and dangerously drinkable. There is a fair amount of heat, but if you can get around it the Belgian spices sing and are wonderfully balanced. There is a lot of complexity to this beer. I went on a progression of heat and raisin to bready, yeasty notes.

I enjoyed this one a good bit. I’m not sure if I can call it a go-to quad, but it is pretty close. The flavor progression is very nice but the beer needs to be a little warmer for you to get the full offering of flavors. The balance was dead on. I can see myself getting this one again.

Beer Review #237 Responders Ale

16 Mile Brewing Company is becoming on of my favorite local breweries. Sure they don’t turn out the volume or variety of their neighbor Dogfish Head, but they do turn out quality, drinkable beers. The owner of 16 Mile, Chad Campbell recently did an interview with the guys from the Better Beer Authority, check it out here.

Responders Ale pours a clear golden straw color. It has a nice dense white head that does not quickly fade. The nose has a good helping of malt along with a complimentary citrus odor from the hops. There are also some hints of honey mixed in there.

A nice light malt flavors kicks this beer off and is followed by the additional malt notes of honey and bread. The hops come in at the end and provideĀ  a small kick. They scream citrus and do a nice job of balancing out the malt. I still think this beer is a bit malt forward, but there is nothing wrong with that.

This beer comes in at 4.1% so you can easily down a few of these. The beer was designed as a thank you to emergency responders. I really liked this one. It has a fresh quality that can only come from a locally brewed beer. I think this one fits in perfectly into the summer beer category. I wish that I would have tired this earlier so that I could have enjoyed more of them. (more…)