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Beer Review #90 Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

We had a good bit of snow fall yesterday here in northern Delaware and snowfall makes winter ales so much more enjoyable. Today’s winter ale comes from Anderson Valley Brewing Company located in Mendocino, California. I never heard of this brewery when I purchased a bottle of this beer so I was excited/hesitant to try it. As a sidenote for any of our new readers, I don’t look at any of the beer review websites before purchasing a beer. I simply go into the store and get what looks interesting. I don’t understand the point of looking at beer reviews before shopping, I think it could skew your opinion of the beer (for better or worse).

This winter seasonal ale comes in a bit darker than my last review, coming in at a “burnt amber.” It is perfectly clear and has a think off-white head to go along with the beer. The nose has lots of dried fruit, with a slightly sour ending. I also got a lot of malt in the nose. It smelled rich.

With all of the malt on the nose I was expecting a really thick, chewy beer, but it was very light. The first thing I thought of when I drank this beer was how light it was upfront. The dried fruit flavors kick in about halfway though the taste. A nice spicy end accompanies the rest of the flavors. This beer comes in at 6.9% and it again surprises me that a beer this think comes in at a higher level ABV. Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is a drinkable beer but for my likings, I think this one would get old quickly. (more…)

Beer Review #89 Stoudt’s Winter Ale

Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of my local favorites. I reviewed their Oktoberfest last last year and enjoyed it a good bit. Their Winter Ale is another beer that has a different recipe each year, much like Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale. I’ve had the 2008 and 2009 versions of this ale and enjoyed them very much. This year’s version comes in a little lighter in ABV, sitting at 6.0%.

Amber is the color that this ale pours. It is perfectly clear and has a nice off-white head that goes along with it. The nose is nice and complex. It is hoppy with some slight heat, which is surprising for a 6.0% beer. I got a lot of dried fruit with some hidden caramel notes. There is also a nice roasty aroma that sits in the background. The more this beer warms up the more complex it gets.

The taste is very malty upfront, which is something that Stoudt’s does with all of their winter beers. There is some heat in the flavor as well. The end was hoppy and spicy. I’m not sure if the spice came from the hops or if it was added in from a third party source. The malty flavor is pretty close to what the nose has to offer. This beer is pretty thick as well. I found it pretty drinkable and it serves as a good example of a Stoudt’s beer. I might be a bit biased, but I haven’t had a bad beer from this brewery, ever. (more…)

Beer Review #88 K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

Another winter beer review and another beer from the state of Maryland. Today’s winter seasonal comes from Flying Dog Brewery from Frederick, Maryland. This is not a brewery I am not unfamiliar with as you can tell from my Week of Flying Dog reviews.

Flying Dog’s winter offering pours a nice caramel color with an off-white head. It is perfectly clear and has plenty of bubbles that you can watch rise into the head (that sounds dirty). The nose is pretty straightforward; dried fruit and a bready smell. Simple and enjoyable are two words that I would use to describe the smell of the beer.

The flavor has a lot more packed into it than the nose would suggest. There is a nice dark caramel flavor, almost a burnt caramel that offers a good amount of malty sweetness to the beer. It is also a bit nutty which accents the slightly roasty backend. The toasty/bready aroma that I mentioned earlier is also present in the taste. What I really liked about this beer is that it ended on a very crisp note. Most beers that have a lot of malt flavor seem to stay on the tongue for awhile.

I really like this beer for the winter time. It comes in at 7.4% ABV so it provides that warming feeling. The roasty notes in the flavor profile make me feel like I should be drinking this beer around a campfire. I enjoyed it a good deal and I think you might as well. (more…)

Beer Review #49 Hobgoblin

For some reason I have been in an English beer kick for the past few weeks. Maybe it is because I have been watching a lot of Band of Brothers on HBO recently, but I am really digging the English style ales right now. Unfortunately Lubbock does not offer much in the way of English style ales, however I did find the subject of today’s review, Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery. The Wychwood Brewery is located in Oxfordshire, England and they make about two dozen or so different beers since I last checked.

Hobgoblin pours a dark brown to ruby color and has a thin off-white head that quickly fades into the beer. It is perfectly clear and the head that started with the pour comes in medium sized bubbles. Just like most English ales the malt is showcased on the nose. Toffy and caramel are a few of the highlights, followed by the malt itself. There is also a slight hop smell in there as well.

After tasting the beer, Hobgoblin was exactly what I wanted. Biscuit, malt, nut, and a slight hop bit were all there to be found on the tongue. Sadly my bottle also had a few skunk flavors in there as well, but there did not overpower the beer like some skunk can. I am going to blame Lubbock on the skunk and not the beer itself. There was also some dried fruit in there, mainly grape. The mouthfeel was very thin and the beer was lowly carbonated.

Hobgoblin is very easy to drink and exceptionally dry. When people who have not tried a lot of beers see a “darker” beer the immediately assume that it is thick and high in ABV. This beer is a great example of how assuming things makes an ass of of… well you know the rest of it. It comes in at 5.2% ABV and is almost watery. I found it very easy drinking and a sure thing for anyone who appreciates English ales.

Hobgoblin comes in 500 ml bottles that have a unique design to them. I don’t know about you, but an interesting shaped bottle and almost make be buy a beer without loving the style. Luckily this beer did both for me. If you have a chance to pick it up, I suggest grabbing a bottle or six pack (they sell those too) as you will not be disappointed. And make sure that you are getting it from a place that replaces it’s stock regularly, skunked beer is no good.  (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…)