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Beer Review #266 Lips of Faith Tart Lychee

01-30-03I received this bottle as a Christmas present from my father-in-law. He has the outstanding quality of finding something that I have been secretly wanting to try. Tart Lychee is brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company. The screen printed bottle says that it is”56% ale aged in oak and 44% ale brewed with lychee and cinnamon.” This beer comes in at 7.5% and is part of their Lips of Faith Series of beers. I’ve had a number of beers from this series and my favorite has been Kick. I’m generally not a fan of cinnamon with pumpkin beers being the exception. Something about things flavored with cinnamon just doesn’t agree with me.

Tart Lychee pours a pale golden color. There is a slight haze at first that turns into a full haze by the end as the dregs of the bottle come into play. It pours with a thick white head that lasts for a long period of time.The nose is decidedly sour, not a bug shocker considering the beer has the work tart in its title. There is a nice little twinge in the nose as well. I can’t describe it fully, but it starts as a light malt that rapidly evolves into increasing sourness. It is a different version of sour than I got on the first whiff.

One thing I noticed when I opened the bottle is how loud the “pssssh” was when I cracked the cap. I’m sure the high carbonation that the sound is indicative of is the reason behind the large, lasting head. Before I tasted anything on this beer, the carbonation went crazy in my mouth. It almost has a champagne feel to it. Once I got over the carbonation I found a pleasant sweetness that was quickly followed by a good tart flavor. There is a very slight spice in there, but it didn’t contribute to the flavor in any big way. This beer not only feels like champagne, it tastes like it. And it’s the good stuff.

I really dig this beer. It’s wonderfully sour and properly balanced. The carbonation helps dry the beer out to an acceptable level. I had to reread the label a few times after trying this one as I couldn’t believe that it was 7.5%. This is one sneaky, delicious beer. Sour beers have really been growing on me and this is a good one. (more…)

Beer Review #203 Noble Rot

Living in Delaware I tend to drink a lot of Dogfish Head. It’s my stately duty to do so, or so I tell myself. DFH is really getting into the collaboration aspect of beer making and Noble Rot is an excellent example of this. This beer is a partnership with a wine maker. According to the bottle Noble Rots is an “ale brewed with grape must and with grape must added.” Grape must is essential grape juice from freshly crushed grapes. It can, but doesn’t have to include the actual skins of the grape. In the beer world, we would consider this wort since it is unfermented. One other fun note with this beer, the name Noble Rot comes from a term in wine making for a fungus that affects wine grapes. Noble Rot comes in at 9% ABV and I read somewhere that it is DFH’s first attempt at a sour beer, which surprises me.

Noble Rot pours a wonderful golden color. For some reason when I hear wine, I assume it’s red, so I wasn’t expecting a golden colored beer. It is perfectly clear and has a nice white head as well. The nose is very much that of a farmhouse ale. There is some wet straw and a slight sour note to it. If I were describing this beer to my sour beer friends I would say that it has some funk, but is nowhere near funky.

On the first taste I was surprised at the nice solid, but balanced sourness that opens this beer. I got some white grape flavor which was not unlike that of Midas Touch. This beer also has a champagne quality to it. It is highly carbonated and finishes in the style of a champagne. There is a really interesting mix of flavors going on, all of which mesh nicely into this beer.

If you are expecting a beer that is really sour you are going to be very disappointed by this beer. It isn’t strongly sour, but the light bit of sourness that is there is very pleasing. I found this one to be super drinkable and I would gladly get another bottle if they weren’t so expensive. One last quick note about this beer, it is the first DFH beer that I have seen with an embossed DFH logo on the bottle. Picture below.

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Beer Review #100 Infinium Ale

I figured with my 100th beer review that I should get something special. Well I did just that and grabbed a bottle of Boston Beer’s Infinium Ale. This beer received a lot of press when it came out and the reaction from the craft beer drinking public was a slightly mixed. Before I go into the review, let’s hear what Boston Beer has to say about their beer.

Our brewers worked for two years with the world’s oldest brewery, Germany’s Weihenstephan, to create this unique new beer style. A groundbreaking brew, made with only the four traditional ingredients: malted barley, hops, water and yeast, Infinium™ is a crisp champagne-like beer with fine bubbles and a fruity, spicy aroma. The crisp clean malt character and delicate fruit notes in this beer are complemented by a slight citrus flavor from dry hopping with Bavarian Noble hops. Bottle conditioning adds another layer of complexity and light spice notes.

Before reviewing this beer I also want to note how cool the bottle and overall packaging for this beer is. It has a great shaped bottle, beautiful screen printing, and a nice cork cover. One I removed aforementioned cork cover I popped the top and pour up a glass (or 4). I choose the only champagne-like glass I had and poured away. This ale came out a nice golden, orange color with a fluffy white head. It was perfectly clear and had tons of bubbles.

The nose was very sweet and reaked of champagne. Overall I thought this beer smelled like it was advertised. There wasn’t a lot of complexity to my nose, but I’m not schooled in the champagne world so the subtle notes were hard to come by. The taste was a good mix of beer and champagne. It was decidedly more on the champagne side of the scale, but it had beer qualities. It had a slight tang to it, but there was a solid bready flavor that represented the beer world well.

I found this beer very drinkable. The 10.3% ABV that it comes in at is very well hidden as well. Almost dangerously so. This is not a typical beer, but I think drinkers of champagne and beer could both appreciate what was done here. The average cost for a bottle of this is around $20, so it hits the wallet hard. It also gives new meaning to the phrase “champagne taste on a beer budget.” If you have some disposable income that you don’t want to give to me, give it to this beer and try it out. (more…)

Hard Cider experiment

09-05-15-02Back in October I was really getting going with homebrewing. I was making a new batch a week. Something sparked my interest and I wanted to try and do a hard cider. It didn’t sound too hard, there was no boiling, just combining ingredents and waiting for awhile. I read around and found a few ideas on what to use and the kinds of cider to look for.

When you are making a cider the most important thing to do, if you are buying your cider, is to make sure that it has no preseratives. If it does, it is not going to ferment and in a few months you will have spoiled cider. Some people go through the trouble of mashing their own apples, collecting the jucies and all of that. For a first try, and possibly only try, I was not going to attempt that. I went with the following recipe:

  • 5 gallons apple cider from local orchard
  • 2 lbs honey
  • 2.5 lbs brown sugar
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • Champagne yeast (homebrew store was out of cider yeast and I had read champagne yeast would be fine)

09-05-15-01I went with the sugars to add a little flavor and alochol. The powdered sugar wasn’t something I was going to the store to get, but it was a buck for two pounds, so I figured why not? I got home and put two gallons in my boil pot. I wanted to raise the temp to around 120 degrees so that the sugars would disolve more easily into the soultion. The remain liquid I put into a sanitized bucket. Once disolved, I combined everything and let it sit for a day as was recomended by some research.

A day later I added the yeast and waited for things to happen. Another day passed and fermenation had clearly begun. The smell of rotten eggs is apparently pretty common, and I got to expericene the smell for myself. It was very strong and stayed for about two weeks. My original plan was to have this ready for Thanksgiving (heck I gave myself two months), but I quickly learned this stuff takes forever. After two and a half months it was ready for transfer to a secondary. It sat there until the end of April when I finally bottled it. It had fully cleared as you can tell by the pictures and it smelled pretty wonderful.

09-05-15-03I might of made a mistake when bottling, I put it into 22 oz bottles. I never got a good gravity reading on this with my hydrometer but I’m guessing it is in the 12-15% range, if not a little higher. I did not carbonate the bottles for fear of putting the wrong amount of sugar in there and the yeast has been dormant for a few months. I believe there are still some unfermented sugars anyway becasue it tastes a bit sweet and the cold weather came early this year, mean my closet with the access to the crawl space was pretty chilly. I’m waiting a little longer before I try a bottle for myself but I enjoyed what I tasted when I was bottling. I don’t know how good it is compared to other ciders but I enjoyed it and I think I would try it again given the chance.