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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 #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 #185 Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer

The last time that I had a Tommyknocker Brewery beer was when I lived in Texas. The brewery is located in Idaho Springs, Colorado which is just west of Denver, and short 8 hour drive from my former “home,” Lubbock, Texas. I enjoyed both of the beers that I tasted from Tommyknock but I always felt that they were missing something. My father-in-law asked me to find this beer for him last winter as a beer-a-day calendar had it as one of the pages. I was unsuccessful in my attempts to locate it last winter, but this year I found success. To celebrate my victory, I purchased myself a bottle as well.

This porter/winter warmer pours a dark brown color and has little to no head. The lacing did wind up being tan, but I’m not sure where it came from. The nose obviously is filled with lots of chocolate. There is some candy-like sugar mixed in there as well and the combination of sugar and chocolate really made this one smell like a Tootsie Roll. I’ve had a few other beers that have a similar odor, but this one had the least “factory” smell that I have run into. Most of the beers that have a Tootsie Roll smell that I have run into don’t smell fresh but rather processed.

On the first taste the sugar sweetness along with some caramel comes up and greets your taste buds. Lots of cocoa then comes in to give this beer its name. I didn’t get any bitterness, which I was expecting a bit of. Chocolates, especially dark chocolates, tend to have a nice bitterness to them. This beer found no hop or chocolate bitterness. The lack of bitter flavors really threw this beer out of balance for me.

This beer was exactly what it claimed to be, but I found it to be just too sweet for me. If you enjoy sweet beers then this one might be for you. Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer comes in at 5.7% and after I finished drinking it I noticed that the bottle said, “the addition of cocoa powder and honey make for a special brew.” I really didn’t find any honey, but the sweetness sure is there. I don’t think I’ll be seeking out this on again. The father-in-law didn’t care for it either if that makes any difference. (more…)

Beer Review #181 Lancaster Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale

Lancaster Brewing Company was one of the first breweries that got me into craft beer. In fact, many of the early review on this site come from Lancaster Brewing Company (2 of the first 9). It has been some time since I’ve actually had one of their beers. They didn’t distribute to Texas and in Delaware, they are available, but it’s nothing new, so I generally skip over them. One beer that I wouldn’t skip over is their milk stout, but I can’t find it in Delaware. If anyone has an in with the good people at LBC, tell them to fix that asap. Lancaster’s Winter Warmer was a favorite of mine in college. The bar down the street had it on tap every winter and my friends and I would visit after night classes. Needless to say some fun times were had, in part, thanks to this beer.

This Winter Warmer pours a nice brown color with some hints of ruby. A tan head accompanies the darker beer below. The nose is filled with dried fruits and chocolate. I didn’t get an hops or much in the way of malt (other than the previously mentioned chocolate) but I did get a slight bit of heat.

While the nose isn’t super impressive or complex, the flavor gives up more than the nose. On my first taste I was met with a wall of toffee followed closely by some coco. I slight bit of roasted malt flavors come in, but they are very light and really add a background flavor. The dried fruit comes in to finish up the whole thing. There is also some heat in there, a little more than what the nose let on.

Lancaster Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale has a lot going on with it. As it warms the flavors really start coming out and mixing in a joyous fashion. I highly suggest that you let this one warm up as it only reveals half of itself when it is cold (insert dirty joke). The heat that is in the flavor is noticeable, but I didn’t find that it took away from the beer. It provides a nice warming feeling on the way down which allows the beer to complete it’s namesake. If this beer is an option for you, try it out, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised by it, especially on a cold night. (more…)

Beer Review #179 Dark Intrigue

It is time for the long awaited Dark Intrigue beer review. If you remember I had to wait in line for three hours in order to secure a few bottles of this beer. More on that in a coming post. Dark Intrigue is brewed by Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, PA and is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King Stout (which is wonderful). This is the second, and reportedly, last batch that they will ever do of this beer do to its intense space requirements. Somehow I think we will see this beer again at some point in the not too distant future.

The bottle reads, “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels,” and it has a recommendation of aging for up to five years as well. Clearly I didn’t give it much time to age at all. Dark Intrigue pours a chocolaty black color and has a deep, dark tan head. The nose is decidedly bourbon with some heat mixed in. There are some bits of roasted malt as well. I didn’t get any hops as I think they were wiped out by the bourbon.

On my first taste I was greeted with a rich and complex mix of flavors. To begin with there is chocolate and roasted flavors up front. The malt tastes are then pushed out by lots of bourbon and heat. There is some slight vanilla in there as well. While I didn’t get any hops in the nose, they are there in the taste, but only just enough to balance out the malt a bit. They did provide a nice spiciness that brings a much needed break from malt, bourbon, and heat. This beer is very thick and creamy and improves as it warms.

Victory really came up with a very complex beer here. It is a big high in the heat department but I imagine that aging this beer for a period long than what I did would eliminate those flavors. I really wish that I had another few bottles to put away to see how the beer changes over time. If you were one of the lucky few to get this beer, enjoy it while you have it, you are in for a treat. (more…)