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Beer Review #211 Brekle’s Brown

I know it seems like I just reviewed a beer from Anchor Brewing Company (and you are correct), but they had two new beers (to me) when I went to the store! Today’s beer is a brown ale that is an “all malt single hop brown ale.” As a homebrewer I am intrigued by single hop beers as they can really allow you to get the full flavor and aroma profile of a hop. Now in a brown ale, the aroma might not be fully complete, but you can learn a lot about hops by single hop brewing. For those of you not familiar with homebrewing, there are generally two additions of hops in a beer; one for bittering and another for aroma. Brewers usually have a mix of hops to use in their beers to get different qualities from each hop. In single hop brewing, only one variety of hop is used for the bittering and aroma hop (and any other) hop additions.

Getting back to the review, this one pours a nice ruby to deep copper color and comes with a light tan head. The nose is loaded with caramels. There is a really nice array of different caramel flavors. They start light and then come in heavy. A slight chocolate note then presents itself. I also got some slight toasted notes, but not a single aroma of hops. This beer is brewed with cirta hops, one of my personal favorites, and I’m suprised that I didn’t get any hint of it on the nose.

As with the nose, the first taste is loaded with lots of caramel. There is some great roasty and chocolate flavors on the backend of this one. On my first few sips I got very few hops, but as it warmed the hops came alive. They are nice and citrus and really add an interesting mix to the sweet and chocolate flavors going on. While the hops add a nice punch of brightness to the beer, they don’t dry it out very much and this one stays pretty sweet.

I enjoyed this beer but I would like to see just a touch more of hops added to this beer to help cut the sweetness a bit more. As with anything in the beer industry, I’m a sucker for marketing. Brekle’s Brown is named for Gottlieb Brekle who bought a saloon in 1871 which later turned into a brewery and then Anchor. With that story, I would happily share this beer with some friends to enjoy during those chilly spring nights. (more…)

Beer Review #200 +/- (Plus Minus)

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

The second beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me is called +/- or in English, Plus Minus. Plus Minus is an English style beer that Magic Hat classifies as a Dark Mild. Sorry no intro video to share for this beer, but their website does have this to say about the beer, “Brewed with the tradition English style in mind, +/- aims to bring drinkers a truly sessionable craft beer experience.”

Plus Minus pours a deep copper to ruby color with a thin off-white head. The nose is very rich with caramels. There are also some roasty components to the nose, but overall there really isn’t a lot happening. I didn’t get any hops or any other notable odors from this one up front.

This beer has a very interesting flavor combination. It starts out bready but then a dry caramel flavor comes in and dominates for awhile. Right when you start to get tired of the caramelĀ  some nice clean bitterness kicks in. The hops are not super strong, but they do their job of cutting the bitterness and drying out the beer more than it already was. Like the last beer I tried, Plus Minus is very clean tasting. There is a slight dry roastiness that sits with you for awhile and I thought it added a nice touch to the ending of this beer.

At 4.2% this is a beer that you could drink several of and not have many problems. I really liked the interesting mix of flavors but I do have to warn you that this beer isn’t for everyone. I have found that a lot of U.S. beer drinkers do not care for many of the dry English styles of beer, and this one falls right into that area. If you dig dry English beer with flavors that are more dull than bright, this one is right up your alley. I would really like to try this one on cask and see how it changes in that setting. (more…)

Beer Review #171 Prelude Special Ale

My then girlfriend (now wife) and I visited the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine a few years ago during a road trip through the northeast. I remember being surprised at how small the building seemed to be for the amount of beer they produce. I generally like their beers but there are a few that have been disappointing me recently (namely their pumpkin beer).

Prelude Special Ale is Shipyard’s winter beer and one of their better beers. The beer pours a nice caramel color with a slightly off-white head. The nose is full of caramel and toffee. There is some slight biscuit sweetness in there as well, but no hops of any kind.

On the first taste the caramel makes an appearance right away. It isn’t an overwhelming caramel flavor, but provides a solid malt base. A nice biscuit flavor then mixes in along with some slight toffee. Hops make their appearance on the backside of this beer and they linger on your tongue for awhile. They are not overly bitter but they do add a nice punch of flavor. This beer also drys out very nicely.

I really liked this beer. This beer is classified as a Winter Warmer but that particular category is pretty open in terms of flavor and alcohol. Prelude Special Ale seems to fit more into the English style of Winter Warm according to my taste buds. I found it very drinkable and it really fits nicely with the winter season. I would be happy to try this beer again. (more…)

Beer Review #88 K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

Another winter beer review and another beer from the state of Maryland. Today’s winter seasonal comes from Flying Dog Brewery from Frederick, Maryland. This is not a brewery I am not unfamiliar with as you can tell from my Week of Flying Dog reviews.

Flying Dog’s winter offering pours a nice caramel color with an off-white head. It is perfectly clear and has plenty of bubbles that you can watch rise into the head (that sounds dirty). The nose is pretty straightforward; dried fruit and a bready smell. Simple and enjoyable are two words that I would use to describe the smell of the beer.

The flavor has a lot more packed into it than the nose would suggest. There is a nice dark caramel flavor, almost a burnt caramel that offers a good amount of malty sweetness to the beer. It is also a bit nutty which accents the slightly roasty backend. The toasty/bready aroma that I mentioned earlier is also present in the taste. What I really liked about this beer is that it ended on a very crisp note. Most beers that have a lot of malt flavor seem to stay on the tongue for awhile.

I really like this beer for the winter time. It comes in at 7.4% ABV so it provides that warming feeling. The roasty notes in the flavor profile make me feel like I should be drinking this beer around a campfire. I enjoyed it a good deal and I think you might as well. (more…)