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Midwest Supplies Schwarzwald Black Lager Review

03-18-01Four months ago I was contacted by a rep at Midwest Supplies about their recipe kits. They allowed me to pick one kit to receive for free in exchange for a review. They held up their end of the bargain, now that I have finally kegged the beer, it’s time for me do to the same.

Schwarzwald Black Lager pours a nice black color with a fluffy off-white head. I have the carbonation turned up a bit high on my kegorator for this style, but I like my beers a little higher on the carbonation side. The nose is a mix of sweet, caramel-like, malt and roasted flavors. There isn’t any hops to speak of but a crisp lager nose is there.

On the first taste you get hit with some nice malt flavors. There are some great caramels and toffees in there which are then followed by the roasted flavors that give the beer its color. The roasted flavors come in and really lift this beer up. It was edging on being too sweet and roasted flavors do a great job of cutting out sweetness. There are some light coffees and general roasted grain in there.

For a beer that to the untrained eye looks like it could be thick and malty, this beer stays away from it. It is very light in the mouthfeel and all of the flavors stay in restraint. This is a very drinkable beer that is perfect for late winter/early spring. I want to thank Midwest Supplies again for including me in this. I have ordered from them in the past and I will do so in the future. They carry a great line of beer kits along with whatever else you would need if you are getting into brewing or if you are an experienced brewer.

Beer Reviews #276 Ticket to Rye

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

The other beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me is a Rye IPA, dubbed Ticket to Rye. I take it as a play on the board game Ticket to Ride. I would like to take credit for incorporating Ticket to Ride into beer before anyone else to my knowledge. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, example 1. Again, if you haven’t played it, you should.

Ticket to Rye pours a nice caramel brown color with bit of red mixed in when held up to the light. It has a two finger off-white head along with a bit of haze. The nose has some solid citrus and pine hops. The hops are edging on pungent, but don’t make it all of the way there. Some really hoppy beers have a different level of hop aroma and produce an odor that takes on a life of its own. This beer is close, but stays out of the world. The hops end with a nice spicy note that may or may not come from the rye malt. There is some sweet malt mixed in the smell as well but the hops are the showcase here.

The taste has some really nice hoppy flavors. The citrus from the nose isn’t really there but the pine sure is. The spicy hops also make a valuable flavor contribution. The hops actually lean a bit towards the grassy flavor spectrum. A lot of people talk poorly about grassy flavors but it works in some beers, this being one of them. The malt flavor is not distinct but it is present and provides a solid backbone for the hop.

I’m a big fan of rye IPAs and this is a good one. It finishes nice and dry. I don’t get a lot of rye. I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it. As an IPA this beer provides a good hop punch with a solid malt backbone. Ticket to Rye comes in at a nice 7.1%. It is very enjoyable and I would be happy to purchase this beer. (more…)

Beer Review #275 Oak Horizontal

03-01-01 I make no secret of my love for Victory Brewing Company. There are a number of outstanding breweries around the Philadelphia area, but I think that I would be most upset if Victory were to close down. Luckily, that doesn’t look to be in the cards as they are adding a second brewery. Oak Horizontal is another beer in their barrel aging series (not an official name). The bottle says a “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels.” And this bad boy rocks in at 10.5%. Old Horizontal is Victory’s barleywine and this is a barrel aged version of it.

Oak Horizontal (I love the word play) pours a nice caramel brown color. It has an off-white head and is slightly hazy. The nose has a nice bourbon note, though not overpowering, along with some nice bits of vanilla. The maltiness of this beer is apparent in the nose but there are no hops to speak of. I’m not sure if they are washed out by the bourbon or if the additional aging knocked them out of the aroma spectrum.

This beer begins surprisingly with a light malt flavor. I was expecting big bold malt, but not so. There are bits of caramel and toffee mixed in but not to the same extent as the non-barrel aged version of this beer. The light malt folds into a bourbon malt flavor. The bourbon is very smooth and enjoyable. An aged hops flavor can be tasted on the back-end with some slight spiciness.

Victory produced a wonderfully smooth barrel aged beer with Oak Horizontal. It is very drinkable and bourbon and barleywine go perfectly together. This is a perfect cigar beer and a sipper. I drank this over the course of two hours and enjoyed every bit of it. The $15 price tag was a bit high, but it did live up to my expectations. (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 #256 Indian Brown Ale

12-28-03The year is quickly coming to a close and I have yet another Dogfish Head beer to add to my list for the year. It’s been a long time since I had Indian Brown Ale as it’s not a super common one to see at the stores compared to some of their other beers, but a friend recently brought over a few to try (he’s new into craft beer!). This beer was actually one of my first Dogfish beers and my first introduction into high alcohol beers. It comes in at 7.2% which isn’t much compared to some other beers that I have on a regular basis, but when I first tried this on out, it was a real ass kicker.

Indian Brown Ale pours a nice clear brown and has a thin off-white head. It doesn’t leave any lacing while being consumed. The nose is nice and malty. There is a good helping a caramel and roasted malt. I didn’t really get any hops which leads me to believe that this bottle was a bit older. The label says, “a clean, well-hopped brown ale brewed with caramelized sugar and hopped liberally and often.” The hops from the nose of this beer did not match the description. FYI: Hop aroma is one of the first things to break down in a beer as it ages. If you have two of the same IPAs, one old and one new, the newer one will taste and smell hoppier.

On the first taste the roasted malt flavor was on full show. Some sweetness then clicks in and gets cleaned up by bits of coffee bitterness. The hops make their presence shown as the caramel sweetness amps up, but both the sweetness and hops and cleaned away by the roastiness in the beer.

This is a very nice beer. It is full of flavor and well balanced. I’m glad that this was one of my first introductions to Dogfish Head beer. I think it is a prefect representation of what they do. If you have never had it before I suggest that you go back and try it and if you are like me and haven’t had it in awhile, it’s worth redrinking. (more…)