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Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

Beer Review #142 The Greater Pumpkin

I mentioned that I went to the beer store looking for pumpkin ales and that I found one from Clipper City Brewing Company. What I didn’t mention is that I actually bought two pumpkin ales from Clipper City Brewing Company. The Great Pumpkin is another imperial pumpkin ale, but this time it is aged in bourbon barrels. They also kicked it up a percentage point, to 9% ABV, just for fun. I’d never had pumpkins and bourbon before, so this was an interesting experience.

The Greater Pumpkin pours a nice orange color. It is not as burnt looking as its predecessor. The white head and clear beer as still there though. The nose is a mix of bourbon and bourbon. Seriously this thing smells boozy and wonderful. There isn’t much else but as it warms there is some slight oak notes that appear in the nose.

On the taste I found that the spices present in the last beer were toned way down in this one. Either that or they were covered up by some other flavors. The bourbon is strongly in there and mixes nicely with the pumpkin flavors. There is a fair amount of heat in there as well and some vanilla. It is a weird combination of flavors but somehow it works out nicely.

For a beer labeled “The Greater Pumpkin,” I actually liked the previous beer more. This one doesn’t have enough pumpkin and has too much bourbon. The heat is more noticeable than the last beer as well. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable beer, but it is not one that you can drink a lot of. Again, grab it while you can as I don’t think these will be sticking around too long. (more…)

Beer Review #141 The Great Pumpkin

I’ve made it no secret that I really enjoy the vast majority of Clipper City Brewing Company beers. I probably had about a dozen or so of their styles, but this is only the fourth review of theirs to make it on this site. I only live an hour or so from Baltimore (right down 95) so I feel like I have some allegiance to this brewery. For better or worse, I try my best to review things fairy without bias.

I was at the local beer store this past weekend, with the intention of loading up on pumpkin, fall, and Oktoberfest beers. One of the first ones I saw was this beer, The Great Pumpkin. How could I not buy a beer named “The Great Pumpkin?” The cartoon for which this beer is named is one of my favorites. I college my philosophy professor even had us do a study into The Great Pumpkin. I can’t remember the reason for the study, but I do remember liking it. I digress.

The Great Pumpkin pours a nice burnt orange color with a thin white head. This beer is also crystal clear. This baby rocks in at 8% and the label reads it as an imperial pumpkin ale. I guess this goes along with Clipper City’s Heavy Seas line of big beers. The label also says, “beer brewed with pumpkin and spices.”

The nose on this imperial ale smells very much like a pumpkin pie. The spices are distant, but present. There is some sweetness there as well. I didn’t get any pumpkin meat like what you can find in some pumpkin beers. I also didn’t notice any heat in this imperial offering. On the first taste those distant spices come rushing up and kick you in the face. They are a bit strong, but not totally overwhelming. There is a nice pumpkin pie finish to the beer along with some heat.

This one is a slightly different pumpkin ale than what you normally see. There are not a lot of imperial pumpkin ales out there right now and this one does a pretty good job at helping to define the “style.” It is a drinkable beer but the spices are a bit heavy handed in my eyes. Grab it while you can and be careful, these babies only come in 22 oz bottles. (more…)

Beer Review #128 Red Sky at Night

It wasn’t long ago that I reviewed Clipper City Brewing Company’s Heavy Seas Summer Ale.I quite enjoyed the beer and found it to be a nice beer to drink when the temperature is pushing 90 degrees. I have another beer from Clipper City Brewing Company today. This Baltimore, MD brewing company seems to have something new on the shelves every time I go to the beer store. Today’s ale is a Saison Ale style of beer and comes in at a respectable 7.5% ABV.

I’m assuming the name for this beer comes from old saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” This beer doesn’t exactly pour red, but rather a rich orange color. It is slightly hazy and has a nice, fluffy white head. The nose is pretty straight forward for a Saison. There are your typical Belgian spices along with some raw yeast aromas. There is some nice sweetness mixed in there as well. I thought that the nose was slightly grassy as well.

Upfront this beer offers a nice amount of sweetness.  The malty sweetness almost reminded me of a hard candy-like sweetness. I’m not sure if they used any Belgian candy sugar in this beer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. The sweetness then gives way to a spicy note that cuts through and dries the sweetness wonderfully. While this Saison is a bit high in ABVs compared to a “typical beer,” I found it surprisingly balanced. It was light in flavor but each component complimented the others.

I really enjoyed this beer. It was very subtle in most respects and shows a great deal of restraint by the brewers. It is really refreshing and I would be happy drinking this beer at anytime of the year. (more…)

Beer Review #120 Heavy Seas Summer Ale

I have only reviewed one previous beer from Clipper City Brewing Company out of Baltimore, MD, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I live about an hour away from the brewery and I have had many of their beers that have not been reviewed on this site yet. One of my favorites is Loose Cannon which I think is an outstanding beer. Clipper City has a bit on an identity problem in my book since they label everything “Heavy Seas” but the fine print shows Clipper City. Even the major beer review sites are not sure what to call them.

From my understanding, Heavy Seas was originally supposed to be a line of their beers that were “big beers.” They were high in ABV, malt, and IBUs, but it seems that all of their beer are now labeled Heavy Seas. This includes their Summer Ale which is not particularity strong in any category. It comes in at a tiny 4.3% ABV.

This summer offering pours a nice golden color and is perfectly clear. There is a nice two finger white head to go along with the rest of the beer. The nose is pretty complex for such a simple looking beer. I didn’t get any hop notes, but there was a lot going on in the malt department. There was first a honey-like sweetness which is then followed by a grainy odor. Everything was very clean and pleasant smelling.

On the first taste I really liked how drinkable this beer was. It wasn’t strong in any particular area, but the whole beer was well balanced and perfectly suited for the summertime. As the nose hinted, there is a good light sweetness to the malt. A slight hop balance kicks in and cuts the sweetness. Once the two main components fade away you are left with a nice biscuit aftertaste. As I said before, this beer is wonderfully drinkable. I have enjoyed more than a few on this 90+ days here on the east coast. (more…)