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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…)

Beer Review #82 2010 Christmas Ale

Every year Anchor Brewing Company out of San Francisco, California puts out a Christmas Ale. They have done it every year since 1975 and each year they use a different recipe. Very cool of a brewery of their size to do something special each year. I reviewed their summer ale a few months ago, let’s see how their Christmas Ale measures up.

2010 Christmas Ale pours a deep, dark ruby color with a solid tan head. The nose is very complex and brings up feelings of the holiday season. I’m reviewing this beer a month after Christmas, and I was transported to the thoughts of Christmas trees (which still needs to make its way to the dump) and lights. The aromas are very earthy and herbal. Anchor’s beer had a bit of berry in the mix. I  got a bit of mint in there, but there so much happening that I’m not sure if that is the exact smell I was getting. There is also some slight sweetness in there as well. I actually got a slight tingle on my nose when smelling this beer. No idea where that came from.

The taste doesn’t have a ton upfront but some really nice roasty flavors kick in about halfway through. The herbal flavors from the smell are in there as well. The mouthfeel is creamy and wonderful. 2010 Christmas Ale comes in 5.5% ABV so it is a beer that you could have a couple of. I really dig this beer. It is complex and tasty. I could drink this all winter long and it is an excellent example of a winter style beer. Grab this one while you can! (more…)

Beer Review #44 Snow Cap Winter Warmer

Another seasonal beer found in Lubbock, I can’t believe it. I saw a review of this beer on Taste Buds awhile ago and, being that I’ve never had a Pyramid brew before, I decided this would be a good first offering. It comes in a short but stout bottle much like Sierra Nevada’s beers do. The label is pretty neat and has a whole heck of a lot going on. There are various winter sports on the label and they did a few little graphic design tricks to make it look interesting. When looking for the name of the brewery, I actually saw that it said Pyramid Breweries as there are locations in Seattle, Berkeley, and Portland. Somehow we didn’t make it to Pyramid during our honeymoon in Portland.

Snow Cap pours a nice dark ruby color with tinges of brown in it. It is perfectly clear and has a thick off-white head to go along with it. The nose of the beer is malty with some tones of dried fruit in there. I didn’t really get much in the way of hops, which for a Winter Warmer is a toss-up. There were also some roasty notes in there as well.

The taste of the beer is malty, which is to be expected seeing as how there was so much on the nose. There are some notes of chocolate in there as well which I was not expecting. There are some hop undertones but they are very restrained. And finally there is some alcohol in there as well. Snow Cap actually comes in at 7.0% ABV; just right for a winter warmer. It has a medium body on it as well. I think the biggest thing that I noticed is how dry this beer is. It seems more like an English style dark ale than a winter warmer. This beer is very drinkable as it is very subdued. All of the flavors mesh well with each other and it is excellently balanced. This is more what I was thinking when I want a winter warmer. (more…)