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Beer Review #284 Grand Cru Dark Ale

04-14-03One of the most random style categories out there is Grand Cru. Most beer categories have a set range of numbers, color, and other things that are pretty specific, but Grand Cru is wide open. I’ve have everything from sour to peppery. Green Flash Brewing Company makes a Grand Cru and that’s what we are looking at today. Let’s see what direction they decided to go with this open style.

Grand Cru Dark Ale pours a dark ruby color. You can’t see through it as first glance, but when held up to the light you can see that it is clear and changes the source of the light beautifully as it travels through the liquid. The head is a light tan color and soon fades into the beer below.The nose starts with a good malty, caramel base. It then morphs into a nice helping of dark fruits, most notably fig and plum. It ends on a slightly spicy note.

On the first taste the first thing I noticed was the drop of heat. This beer comes in an at a massive 9.1% ABV so it’s not surprising that alcohol shows up. The caramel smells follow through to the flavor and add a nice splash of sticky sweetness. A nice raisin flavor develops in the caramel and carries through until the end of the sip. Grand Cru Dark Ale has a spicy Belgian finish that has a bit of clove on the end.

This is yet another Grand Cru that is different from what I have had in the past. It is nice and smooth. It’s a little sweet but overall it’s pretty well balanced. This is a style that I want to explore more as I love the variety and combinations of flavors that different breweries put into it. (more…)

Pumpkin Ale Version 2 Tasting Notes

I made a commitment to start posting more about my homebrewing. I noticed that I post a fair number of recipes, but I never review them and explain future changes that I would make. I’m going to start making a better effort to do this and I figured I should review my Pumpkin Ale while I still have some left.

My pumpkin beer pours a nice clear dark amber color and has a thin white head that fades with time. The nose smells like pumpkin pie with a balanced dose of spices and some pumpkin meat.

The taste is pretty close to what I was shooting for. There is a good malt flavor with some hints of bread and graham cracker. The pumpkin pie spices come in and help clean up the beer. I really liked the aftertaste on this one. After all of the major flavor components have a chance to sit for a bit, they meld nicely.

This beer turned out exactly like I wanted it to with a few minor exceptions. The clove was a bit stronger than the other spices, so I will dial that one back a bit. I did think the spices were in balance with the beer though. This was not one of those overly spiced pumpkin beers. I want to add a bit more body to it as well. The oats didn’t give it as much silky texture as I would have liked. I’ll probably increase the mash temperature to help get some longer sugars out of it and as a result, more body. The mix of crystal malts worked nicely and I wouldn’t change a thing there. I might take a look at giving it some more bread character to better simulate the crust of a pumpkin pie. I would consider adding a touch of biscuit, brown, or carabrown malt depend on what I had on hand. I’m pretty happy with this recipe overall and I think I’m 90% there as far as how I want it to be.

Beer Review #244 Pumpkin Lager

I told myself that I wouldn’t buy seasonal beer this year, but I caved on the pumpkin beer front. Call it research for my pumpkin ale. When I saw Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager I grabbed it for two reasons, 1.) I never heard of a pumpkin lager and 2.) I never had anything from the Lakefront Brewery.

This beer pours a pale orange color and it is perfectly clear. A thin white head floats along the top for a moment and then fades into the beer. The nose has the typical pumpkin beer spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and clove) along with a touch of light sweetness. The bottle says that this is a “beer brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin spices.” I didn’t notice any true pumpkin odor but the spices were nice and seemed to be balanced.

There is a touch of caramel sweetness when first tasting this beer which is followed by some pumpkin flavor. The spices are very light and they don’t provide a bite that spices normally give to the end of a beer. I didn’t mind it but I would have liked a period to the end of the beer if you will. After a few sips I noticed a weird lagerish taste, like a flat metallic flavor. Not a fan of that.

Lakefront Brewery provided my first pumpkin lager and I’m left a bit torn. The first few sips were decent, but the metallic flavor just turned me off. I don’t think that the lager quality, i.e. sulfur, really works in this style of beer. I think I’m going to stick to a few other pumpkin beers next year in lieu of this beer. (more…)

Beer Review #225 Skull Splitter

I meant to post this review before I left for my trip but life got in the way for a bit, but I’m ready to post it now. Skull Splitter was first introduced to my by my cousin who was introduced to it by a coworker. His coworker is from Scotland and highly recommended the beer to my cousin saying, “at beer festivals this beer always goes first because it packs a punch and tastes great.” Know that I am a beer guy, my cousin called me up and let me know to keep an eye out for it. And honestly, how can you not try a beer named Skull Splitter?

Skull Splitter is brewed by the Orkney Brewery of Stromness Orkney, Scotland. I had to Google Map that one. This beer comes in at a solid 8.5% but that’s all the bottle has to hint at what is inside. It pours a nice clear brown color that has a light tan head. The nose has a fair amount of heat (especially when warmed up a bit) and some peppery spices. If I had to guess a style without looking up anything I would guess that this one sits somewhere on the Belgian spectrum. Upon actual more investigation this beer doesn’t have a specific style. I saw everything from barleywine to Wee Heavy. I tend to agree with the Wee Heavy classification, but then again, beer styles don’t really matter all that much.

On the first taste I was surprised about the amount of malt flavor happening. I figured that this one was going to be a thin, high alcohol, peppery beer, but I was wrong. The malt is packed with some dark fruits and a nice plum and raisin flavor comes through. There is a spice in there towards the end which I associated with clove. I didn’t get much heat out of it except on the last few sips when it had warmed for a half hour or so. There is a really nice sweetness that carries through this beer that balances everything nicely.

I really, really liked this one. I need to get secondhand suggestions from Scotsmen more often. I really liked how tasty this on was while being balanced. This beer is on my buy again list. (more…)

Beer Review #155 Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

I’ve already reached my last pumpkin beer of the year. I found myself in an Oktoberfest beer mood this ear and I didn’t purchase many pumpkin beers. I think part of the problem is that every brewery seems to want to be the first to get their pumpkin ale out. I saw some in late August! Not the time that I want to be drinking a pumpkin ale and by the time I do, like now, they are all gone. I hope the industry gets around to fixing that little issue.

I have had a few Blue Point Brewing Company beers before as they have recently become available in my area. Overall, I have to give them a thumbs up. The brewery is located in Patchogue, New York and they seem to be grown at a decent clip. Their version of a pumpkin ale pours a nice copper color with a thin white head. There is no hazy like there was in my last pumpkin beer. They also managed to get the label the right side up. Good start.

The nose is very “pumpkiny,” with lots of actual pumpkin meat coming through. There are some of the normal spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc) mixed in along with some sweetness. On my first taste I was shocked at how sweet this beer was. There wasn’t any pumpkin pie spice bit to this beer, but rather a slow fade into pumpkin flavor. The slow pumpkin onset was really nice.

I really enjoyed this beer from Blue Point. It was a little sweet for my liking but the gradual change to pumpkin flavor made up for any extra sweetness. I found the bottle a bit interesting because it said, “malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spice.” I wonder if New York has some weird naming rule on beers where they need to be called a malt beverage if they fall into a certain category. In any case, this is a good one and I look forward to trying it out next year. (more…)