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Beer Review #151 Old Dominion Octoberfest

I’ve had a few Old Dominion Brewing Company beers since I moved to Delaware a year and a half ago. Most recently I had some of their beers when I was at the Good Beer Festival. Old Dominion is brewed about an hour’s drive down Route 1 from my house in Dover, De. I still haven’t gotten a chance to take a tour of their brewery, but I have a few free weekends coming up where a tour would fit in nicely.

The first thing that caught my eye about this Oktoberfest is that it isn’t spelled in the traditional way. See that “C” in there instead of the “K?” That’s not normal, in fact, I’ve never seen it on another Oktoberfest style beer. Old Dominion’s take on a Oktoberfest pours a nice copper color and it is crystal clear. The head is has a light tan hue to it, which was a bit darker than I expected. As a general rule of thumb on Oktoberfest beers I expect the head to be white the lighter the color. This one’s head was darker than most that are a similar color.

The nose is pretty straightforward with some slight malt and hoppy background. The hops were not like others, these hops were spicy and complimented the malt odor, not overpower it. The taste was more complex than the nose let on. The normal malt flavors lead into some very distinct caramel tones. The hops then come in and balance out the sweetness, but don’t take all of the sweetness away. The beer finishes with a nice biscuit dryness. I was surprised to find a little heat in this one as well.

I really enjoyed this one. For a beer that didn’t promise a lot based on the nose, it really delivered on flavor. Of note on the bottle, eight German malts and four hop varieties were used in the making of this beer. I guess that’s were the complexity came from. Good work Old Dominion, this beer will be on my repurchase list for next year. (more…)

Beer Review #107 Copperhook

Another spring seasonal from Redhook Ale Brewery for today. This beer is actually a year round beer on the west coast, but here on the east coast it is only an option for April and May. It came bottled in Redhook’s new bottles. They are partially a marketing stunt, but I really dig how they look and feel. One note about them, they pour very differently compared to a traditional beer bottle. The neck is much shorter so the angle of the pour needs to be altered a bit or maybe I had a few too many on tap for review.

Copperhook pours a light copper color and comes with a thin white head. The nose had a slight sweetness followed by some herbal notes. The taste was a strange mix of flavors. There was some caramel and toasted malt in there, but then that herbal flavor kicked in. It was reminded me of a cross between mint and spruce. Their other spring beer had similar flavors, but had a better malt backbone to stand on.

The bottle says “things gold and silver are way overrated.” If I am basing that saying off of this beer I wholeheartedly disagree. It does come in at 5.8% so it is sessionable, but this one just wasn’t for me. I did get a cool bottle out of it though. (more…)

Beer Review #106 Smooth Hoperator

Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of my “local favorites.” I went to college about 20 minutes away from the brewery and worked 5 minutes from the brewery a few years ago. I dig the whole vibe to the place and they make some really wonderful beer. I have reviewed two (Fall and Winter) of their other seasonal beers in the past year or so and enjoyed both of them. I have seven of their beers still to review, but I figured their “springish” style seasonal is more timely. The reason I say “springish” is because the brewery calls it a seasonal beer, but doesn’t have an official release time for it.

Smooth Hoperator (great name) is a Doppelbock that features a smooth looking ram on the label. Ram are a traditional logo for any beer with the word “bock” in it. This beer rocks in at 7.2% ABV, so this isn’t a beer you can drink a ton of, although you might want to. This beer pours a nice amber to copper color and has a fluffy off-white head. The nose has super bright hops. There is some grapefruit mixed in there as well, but not much else.

The taste has a nice rich malty front-end. There are some caramel notes in there but other notes were hard to pick-up.  Right after the malt comes some great, punchy hops. The grapefruit from the nose comes through, but so does an unmistakable freshness. These hops were very clean and dried out the malt nicely.

I don’t generally go bananas over beer, but I really dig this one. It really hits the spot and is very well balanced. The fresh taste made it all that much more enjoyable. Go get this while you can! (more…)

Beer Review #47 60 Minute IPA

Yet another beer review, yet another beer from Dogfish Head. This is probably one of my favorite beers period. It is called a 60 Minute IPA because the hops are added for a full 60 minutes and that is how long the boil is. I really wouldn’t consider this an IPA if I didn’t know they called it one, in my mind it falls under more of a Pale Ale than anything.

DFH 60 Minute IPA pours a nice golden/copper color and is perfectly clear. It also has a nice fluffy off-white head as well. The nose on this beer is wonderful. There is some malt and bready flavors but the main thing that you get is floral hops. Lots of them, and they are super bright, which is nice. I don’t know if I got a fresh bottle but the hops/beer just smelled fresh. I’ve clearly had this beer more than once and all of them have had a similar nose.

On the first taste the thing I really noticed is how balanced the beer is. The hops and malt just meld wonderfully. The malt is the taste that you get upfront but it is quickly followed by a smooth hop finish. In addition to being smooth it is also very crisp. There is also a pleasant hop left on the tongue. 60 Minute IPA is medium bodied an has great carbonation.

This is just a drinkable beer; a solid beer all the way around. There isn’t much more than I can say about it. It is on the light end of an IPA and maybe on the aggressive end of a Pale Ale, but as I said earlier, I really think this is mislabeled and should be presented as a pale ale. If you are a fan of either types of these styles of beers, you will enjoy this offering. I know that I can’t wait to clear out some space in the fridge to get another sixer of it. (more…)

Beer Review #41 Winter Welcome Ale

I have a few more winter seasonal beers to get though but today’s review comes all the way from Yorkshire, England. It is Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. I’ve had a few other Samuel Smith beers before and I have liked every single one. I think their Oatmeal Stout should be the standard of the style because it is just so perfect. Samuel Smith’s is also Yorkshire’s oldest brewery and dates back to 1758.

The beer pours a nice amber, copper color with a large fluffy head that quickly fades to a thin lace. It is perfectly clear and looks more the part of a winter beer than my last review did. The nose on the beer is full of a lot of fruity esters. In particular grape and dried fruit comes to mind. There is a bit of malt sweetness in there, but the fruit is the most prevalent smell. I didn’t get much in the way of hops on the nose though.

On the first sip, it tasted like an English pub ale with more than normal fruity esters. The fruit really comes through on the back-end of the beer. There was very limited malt flavor throughout the drink. There was also a bit of the hop bite on the end but it also finishes very crisp. The beer is extremely dry, perhaps one of the most dry beers that I have ever had. And the aftertaste is mostly biscuit and toasty flavors. It is an amazingly complex beer that really allows you to sample each layer.

This beer would be excellent for anyone who loves English ales. It isn’t hoppy at all and is packed with flavor. The flavors are not overwhelming, they are layered and a bit hidden. The more you drink it, the more things you find to taste. This ale comes in at 6% ABV. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you like complex beers or English ales, this one is for you. (more…)