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Beer Review #235 Somersault

It has been over six months since I last had a beer from New Belgium Brewing Company. For the most part, they haven’t had a lot of new beer in my neck of the woods. Sure they have the occasional Lips of Faith beers, but they are super expensive compared to other similar styles so I usually don’t pick them up. Although I will pick up as many bottles of Kick as I can find if I see it around, no matter the price. Somersault was a beer that I wasn’t planning on getting but I need something to complete my mix and match six pack.

Somersault is a golden ale style beer that comes in at 5.2% ABV. It pours a clear golden color with just a hint of orange. The head is thin and white and fades away pretty quickly. The nose is pretty bready with a hint of fruitiness. There really wasn’t much going on in the nose, but what I did get I enjoyed.

On my first taste I was surprised to find how light the malt tasted while still being sweet. Usually a really light malt character results in a malt lacking in actual flavor, but this one was sweet. There was a slight fruit flavor which could have come from the yeast or possibly the hops. To keep on the mindset of hops, this beer has none. I didn’t get any real bitterness or traditional hop flavor out of this one. I don’t know if I had an old bottle or if it just didn’t ever exist.

This beer isn’t bad but it is nothing to write home about. It is neutral enough for new craft beer drinkers to enjoy but it will leave most craft beer drinkers wanting. On a hot day this beer would probably be nice, but I don’t think I’ll be grabbing this one to complete a six pack again. (more…)

Beer Review #232 Hex Ourtoberfest

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

The other beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent to me in the sampler was an Oktoberfest, or as they call it an Ourtoberfest. I really dig Oktoberfest beers as they fit so perfectly in the fall chill that begins to take over the Northeast. I’ve reviewed a almost two dozen Oktoberfest beers since this site started and except for a few exceptions, I really dig these beers.

Hex Ourtoberfest pours a nice clear amber color with a slight off-white head protecting the liquid below. All in all, it looks like an American Oktoberfest. I have generally found traditional German Oktoberfest beers to be lighter in color and lighter in caramel flavor compared to their American counterparts. Hex is decidedly in the American range of Oktoberfest beers. The nose is exactly what I hoped it would be, bready, malty, and solid caramels. In addition to the malt there is a slight hop spiciness that trickles through the whole nose.

I was really excited to try Hex Ourtoberfest on my first sip and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything in the nose comes out right away in the beer. The caramels with hints of toffee flow through the beer as do the bread flavors. I often find a lot of Oktoberfest beers to be too far on the sweet side but this one is very balanced. The spicy hops that were in the nose are present in the flavor of the beer as well. The are solid in there with a slight pine component. They provide a nice counterpart to the vast array of malt flavors.

This beer comes in at 5.4% which I consider sessionable. I thought that this one was pretty good. The slight pine flavor on the hops wasn’t something that I was expecting, but it didn’t take away from the beer at all. If you are a fan of American Oktoberfests this one will float your boat. (more…)

Beer Review #231 Hocus Pocus

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

The good folks at Magic Hat Brewing Company hooked me up again with a sampler pack of their fall selection. Today’s beer is Hocus Pocus, a beer that hasn’t been brewed since 2008 but was brought back by popular demand. Along with out next review they sent a bottle of Hi.P.A which I reviewed over 200 beers ago. As a quick review, it is a solid IPA that mixes hops and malt very nicely. I enjoyed having it again after a few years of evolving taste buds.

Hocus Pocus is a wheat beer that comes in at a tiny 4.5% ABV. It’s meant to be sessionable and drinkable. I had this beer several years ago but I never had the chance to review it and to be honest, I don’t remember much about it other then its logo. Hocus Pocus pours a nice golden straw color with a thin white head. For a wheat beer, this one was super clear. The nose has some great floral hops that hit you at first and are quickly followed by some nice wheaty grain. A good dose of citrus comes in at the end of the breath which really rounded out the nose on this one.

Up front this beer has some honey-like sweetness that gives way to a slight citrus punch. A nice bready flavor also fades into compliment the rest of the malt flavors. There is a hop note that is present during most of the drink but it’s not a biting hop, just flavor. I found it very nice as a strong bittering component would have overpowered the malt.

I really liked this one. It’s perfect for those warm fall days that fade into brisk fall nights. This one might become my Sunday afternoon football beer as it doesn’t pack a lot of ABV’s but has some really nice flavors going on. I’m glad that Magic Hat brought this one back as I think it is one of their better seasonal beers. (more…)

Beer Review #209 Anchor Bock Beer

One of the first craft beers that I ever had came from the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California and I have enjoyed their beers ever since. I’m a fan of their Christmas beer series that has a new recipe each year. In addition, they serve Anchor Steam at Phillies games along with a large number of craft beers. During last year’s playoffs I didn’t drink a single Anchor beer to show my support for the Phils and my dislike of the Giants, but in the end, the Giants did what the Phillies couldn’t. I’ve finally brought myself around to drinking a beer from San Francisco again, and Anchor Bock Beer is as good of a beer as any to jump back in with.

This bock pours a deep ruby to mahogany color with a tan head. This beer is much dark then what I was expecting. Generally bock’s tend to be lighter in color and double bocks tend to be closer to the color of this beer. While this beer is dark, light does pass through the clear liquid. The nose is very sweet with some strong caramels and slight bread. There is not real hop odor on the nose to cancel out any of the sweetness.

Caramel is the first flavor that I noticed when drinking this bock. The caramel is super sweet but it fades into a nice chocolate roast flavor. Again, there are not hops in this beer to help cut through the sweetness, but the slight roast helps in this respect. I found this beer to have a cigar quality to it. There was just something in it that reminded me of smoking a cigar on my back deck.

I liked this Anchor offering. It was not what I was expecting from a bock as it was far darker and roastier than expected, but it was decent. This beer would be good on those cold spring days that are full of sun, but not warmth. (more…)

Beer Review #207 Victory Prima Pils

It’s no secret that I dig Victory Brewing Company. In my book they make some of the best beers on the

east coast and I am constantly amazed at the number of different beers they put out each year. They are actually working on adding a second location as the home base in Downingtown, PA can no longer be expanded. When I first started drinking craft beer, today’s beer, Prima Pils, is one of the beers that I immediately gravitated to.

Just as any pilsner should, Prima Pils pours a nice clear golden color with a fluffy white head. The nose has a decent amount of malt and sweetness. There are bits of biscuit in there along with some prevalent honey odors. I also get some nice hop aroma, but not overpoweringly so. These hops sit in the background but promise to show themselves at a more convenient time. If I had to describe the hops in a broad way, I would call them “noble smelling.” One big difference with this pilsner is that there is no lager sulfur smell. I don’t know if the brief wisp of hops mask it or if it is brewed so cleanly that the sulfur doesn’t come. In any case, it’s nice not to have it there.

On the first taste I got a nice sweetness that felt authentic. It reminded me deeply of a German pilsner that I had last summer. The honey flavors come back in along with some nice solid bread. Just as all of the malt flavors are wrapping themselves up, a nice does of hops kick in. Again, these hops are strong compared to a pale ale, but they are assertive for a pilsner. I’m guessing that people who are used to drinking light American lagers will not like this one at first because the hops are bold compared to their former beers. I want to stress that this isn’t a hoppy beer in a bitterness sense, but the hops add a great balancing force.

I fell in love with this beer several years ago and I still love it to this day. While this one is more hoppy than most pilsners, I still find it to strike a nice balance. It is very drinkable and I find myself being a regular consumer of this beer. (more…)