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07-10-03

Beer Review #299 Reunion Ale 12

07-10-03I have yet another collaboration beer up for review today. Reunion Ale 12 is brewed by Shmaltz Brewing Company in collaboration with Terrapin Beer Company. This was a wife picked beer and not something that I normally would have gotten because of the description on the label. The bottle says it is a “dark imperial ale brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and natural flavors.” I always hate the natural flavors part of a beer description. If you aren’t going to be specific, don’t add it to your label.

Reunion Ale 12 pours a deep black with an off-white head. The nose is packed with cinnamon and has a slight vanilla twinge. A light caramel note can be found in the background of the nose as well. I was expected to get some roasted odors out of this one but none could be found.

On the first taste the cinnamon really attacks. The cinnamon doesn’t taste fresh like a stick cinnamon would but rather powdered and clingy. The vanilla also comes in and asserts itself strongly. At the end the malt finally has a chance to show itself with some light bread coming out of the woodwork. The cocoa nibs also make an appearance at the end of this one, but they seemed to have missed the party as they don’t blend with the other ingredients. The beer finishes on the sweet end of things and lack any hop presence.

This one gets an “eh” from me. There is way too much going on with too many strong flavors. All of the flavors fight each other for dominance and they just don’t fit. I usually like flavors to sing when they get together, this beer’s ingredients yell. I would like it to end a bit more on the dry end of things as well to maybe closeout the beer on a better note. At 8% this beer will make you feel better but this one is just not for me.

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…)

Pumpkin Ale Recipe- Version 2

I’ve brewed two pumpkin beers in the past. My first one was right when I first got into homebrew and it involved cutting up some cooked pumpkin pieces and steeping them in the boil kettle. The results were good but I wanted more out of the pumpkin. I also thought that the porter aspect of my beer took away from the other aspects that I wanted to showcase. About three years ago I brewed my second Pumpkin Ale. I still like the recipe idea but I got a stuck sparge and only collected 2.5 gallons of wort. The only thing that I didn’t realize was that I managed to get the majority of the sugar pulled out of the grain before it stuck, meaning that I had a 15% pumpkin beer.

For this round I wanted to make sure that I could really highlight the pumpkin flavor. I also had two secondary goals; a medium mouthfeel and a bready malt quality. On the technical end I just wanted to avoid a stuck sparge again. Below is the recipe that I decided to go with after looking through the ingredients that I had:

  • 8 lbs. 2-Row
  • 1 lb. Light Munich
  • .5 lb. Oats
  • .5 lb. Carapils
  • .5 lb. Crystal 40
  • .25 lb. Crystal 80
  • .25 lb. Crystal 120
  • 3 lbs. Pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb. Rice Hulls
  • 1.0 oz US Goldings @60 mins
  • 1.0 oz US Goldings @10 mins
  • 1 tsp. Ground nutmeg @1 min
  • 1 tsp. Ground allspice @1 min
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon @1 min
  • WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast

Generally I like simple malt bills but I went a little more complex on this one. The 2-row is pretty standard as a base grain but the rest are all added for a specific purpose. The Munich malt helps add some breadiness as well as a depth to the malt character. The oats are there to provide a bit more mouthfeel. Carapils is there, well for what Carapils does, head retention. I used a variety of crystal malts to try and hit all ends of the caramel/toffee spectrum. The rice hull are there to help stop a stuck sparge. My pumpkin puree was made using the process I described here with the only difference being that I didn’t add any water. I added the spices at the end to make sure I could get as much flavor out of them as possible without having to add them in the secondary. I made sure to make this mash very thin, mashing 12 lbs. of grain and 3 lbs. of pumpkin puree with 6 gallons of water at 153. I sparged with 2 gallons to collect a total of six gallons of wort.

I wasn’t sure which yeast I wanted to go with on this one originally but the homebrew store only had one “standard” American ale yeast in stock so WLP008 was the choice of the day. After doing some research I think this one will do well with the style. It is described as, “Similar neutral character of WLP001, but less attenuation, less accentuation of hop bitterness, slightly less flocculation, and a little tartness. Very clean and low esters.” The beer comes out with the follow stats:

  • OG: 1.049
  • FG: 1.008
  • ABV: 5.37%
  • IBUs: 24

As of posting this the beer is sitting in the secondary and my transfer sample tasted very nice. I can’t wait to try this one out in a few weeks.

Beer Review #174 The Vixen Chocolate Chili Bock

This will be the last beer review of 2011 on Brewery Reviewery. I still have a bunch of winter beers to get though during the weeks ahead, but I will get to them next year. I saw this beer while I was at the beer store last week and picked it up. My father-in-law also got me a bottle for Christmas. The Vixen Chocolate Chili Bock is brewed by Boston Beer Company, aka Sam Adams, of Boston Massachusetts. This bock is part of their series of one-off production beers, meaning that this beer is brewed only once and is never rebrewed again. I have a feeling that a very successful beer in this series would be produced again (I’m looking at you Victory Dark Intrigue). To my knowledge Sam has three other beers in this series currently.

The Vixen pours a nice black color and has an accompanying tan head. I have no idea on the clarity of this beer as its darkness blocks out any light (or is it that it absorbs all of the light, science!) The nose is fully of chocolate with some sweetness in there as well. I didn’t get an chili odor and I looked all over for it. The bottle says “ale brewed with cinnamon and with spices and cocoa nibs added.” I didn’t find anything other than the cocoa on the nose.

The taste is full of chocolate as well. And when I say chocolate, I mean lots of chocolate, like a bigger version of their Chocolate Bock. Again, I wasn’t able to get any chili flavor. I tried this beer cold and at room temperature and there was no chili to be found. There was a slightly strange ending on this beer, but not a flavor that I would attribute to chilies or the other spices mentioned. The only thing I found other than chocolate was some heat as it warmed.

This beer comes in at 8.5% and comes in a “stylized” bomber (22 oz). The Vixen is a very smooth, fully flavored chocolate beer, but it is not chili beer. If you are scared off by the chilies, don’t be fearful of this beer. You will not find any chilies, but just some rich chocolatey goodness. (more…)

Hopped up Devil

I was at Victory Brewing Company earlier this week to have dinner with some friends and my wife, all of who had never visited the brewery before. My wife banned the camera from taking any pictures while eating or anything like that, but I did have some wonderful beer and burgers. As is my custom at a brewery, I purchased a burger and a sampler. I had a glass or two of Uncle Teddy’s Bitter as well which is a great beer if you are the driver for the evening. It comes in at 3.7% and is still a sipper. I wish more breweries had some super low ABV offerings.

One of my favorite things to do before leaving Victory is to visit their gift shop and make sure that there isn’t any single bottles that I can’t take home. I did pick up a bottle of their new beer, Otto, which will be reviewed shortly. Victory is now making their own beer inspired ice cream. They offer three flavors using the wort (pre-hop) from Golden Monkey, Hop Devil, and Storm King Stout.

Judging by the title of this post I bet you can figure out which ice cream we took home. Hopped up Devil is an ice cream that has ingredients such as cayenne, cinnamon, and chocolate covered coffee beans.

The mix of ingredients goes really well together. The cinnamon gets a bit burred out of all of the flavors but the cayenne is a stand out. The heat from it slowly builds as you eat the ice cream. It isn’t intense at all, but gives a soft burn on the back-end. It make a cycle of eat ice cream, cool down mouth, cayenne heats mouth, eat more ice cream. A wonderful and dangerous cycle. As I have mentioned before, I’m no coffee fan except in beer, but add ice cream to that list. The chocolate covered beans provided some nice punches of flavor as well as a different texture. I think the ice cream is only available at the brewery, so stop in if you are ever close and try some beer ice cream. (more…)