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05-06-05

Beer Review #290 Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

05-06-03On my last visit to the beer store I saw a large display of a new beer to the area, Terrapin Beer Company of Athens, Ga. I never tasted their beer and a Rye Pale Ale sounded delightful, so I picked up a six pack along with a few other beers.

This Rye Pale Ale pours a light copper color with a thin white head. It is perfectly clear and looks really nice in the light. The nose didn’t give me the sense of hops. I got a strong dose of honey-like sweetness and some bready notes. There was a slight rye malt, but not as much as what I was hoping for. After a bit more smelling, I finally found a light citrus hop odor. I like my pale ales a little more malt forward, so this one fit the bill.

The honey carries over to the flavor and the rye/honey combination really plays nicely. The bread also comes in and adds a nice roundness to the taste of this beer. Hops come in at the end and provide a light hop bitterness. I mainly got pine from the hops and oddly no rye spiciness. I know that some say that rye doesn’t deliver a spicy component, but I would argue that it does, especially when given a proper hop profile to work with. It’s one of those flavors that can be masked or enhanced depending on what is around it. This beer doesn’t add to the spicy notes that I’m used to at the end, but it does allow for the rye to shine upfront.

This isn’t a bad pale ale, but I do wish it had something more to it. There is a lot of potential there, but it tastes a bit watered down to me. I’m going to contradict myself from earlier and say that I wanted this beer to be more aggressive with the hops. Malt forward is great, but in a pale ale, the hops also need to shine. I have a few other beers from this brewery to review but I think I will pass on this one next time around. It’s not a bad beer by any means, it’s just not one for me. (more…)

Beer Review #263 Secret Spot Winter Ale

01-22-03We had a nice bit of snow last night here in northern Delaware, and by nice I mean a coating. It’s been a pretty dry winter thus far and I’m not happy about it. Secret Spot Winter Ale boasts a snowboarder on the logo and screams snowy winter. Brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company this beer is going to get snow to me. The weather works that way right? No? Crap.

Secret Spot pours a nice orange copper color and has a thin white head. The nose has a slight bit of citrus hops. As I took a deeper breath of the beer I found a lot of malt notes. You have your typical malt flavors along with a subtle toasty and bready odor.

On the first taste I got a really nice malt flavor. There are some light caramels but mainly a standard malt backbone. The hops then come in an provide a really nice citrus flavor. The hops are very clean and don’t bite like traditional hops. They gently mix in with the malt and slowly make themselves more apparent. The transition is very smooth and enjoyable.

For a normal beer I really like this one. It’s drinkable and a bit different. The hop transition is so smooth that it added a new layer of intrigue for me. This beer does not say winter ale to me. It’s no robust in any way and it is not a stick to your ribs kind of beer. As a beer I like it, but as a winter beer it doesn’t measure up. Change up the release time of this one to the spring and I think you have a real winner. (more…)

Beer Review #262 Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale

01-20-02Dogfish Head recently rolled out a new beer in their Ancient Ale series of beers; Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. I usually have a hard time saying no to a new beer from Dogfish Head. They do such a great job of making you want their beer. The results are usually pretty good but there have been a few clunkers in there. According to the bottle this beer is “an ancient ale brewed with honey, hazelnut flour, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice, and pomegranates.” It also comes in at 8.5% ABV. I have no idea what the majority of those things taste like, but it does sound interesting.

Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale pours a copper color with a reddish hue. It has a giant off-white head on the initial pour that quickly fades down to just a thin layer. The nose is very sweet. There isn’t an heat to be found but there are lots of fruits. The raisins and pomegranates that are listed in the ingredient list come out big time in the nose. I find that a lot of these ancient ales tend to have similar noses as grapes/raisins are a typical ingredient.

The sweetness found in the nose continues through to the taste. This beer is very sweet upfront. It is then followed by a slight spicy flavor that fades into the fruit flavors found in the nose. There is a wheaty characteristic that flows through the whole beer. This ale ends on a bready, earthy note. I was really surprised that I didn’t get any heat in this beer. Usually at 8.5% you start to get a hint that the beer is high alcohol when it warms, but not in this beer.

This is one of the beer beers that Dogfish Head has put out in awhile. It has solid flavors and is very balanced. I really thought that it was going to be over the top sweet, but it came down and ended up being very nice. I really like beers that capture an earthy quality and this beer has it. I’m not going to be grabbing another one of these as the price tag ($15) is a bit too high for me, but it is a super enjoyable beer. (more…)

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 #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…)