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Beer Review #55 Full Sail Pale Ale

When my wife and I look our honeymoon to Portland, Oregon we had our first taste of Full Sail beers. Since living in Texas, I have gotten to taste them more regularly since they distribute here. Full Sail Brewing Company is based out of Hood River, Oregon and is completely employee-owned by 47 employees. Full Sail Amber is one of my favorite amber beers, in fact I think it may be the most classic example of an American Amber Ale out there. These guys don’t mess around when it comes to making quality beer.

Full Sail Pale Ale pours a bright amber color with a nice white head that lasts all the way through. As you expect from a pale ale it is perfectly clear. The nose has some nice hoppy aromas with bits of sweetness from the malt and also a few bready smells as well. Very clean and nice to say the least.

On the taste of the beer you will get the malt sweetness up front, with come bread/caramel, then followed by the hops. The hops are very crisp and leave easily and without any fuss. Some of the bread flavors hang around long after the hops are gone, which I really enjoyed. Unlike some Pale Ales that try to be something special, this one seems to take a straightforward approach and succeeds very well. The whole KISS principle worked very nicely here. The balance was perfect and the taste is everything a pale ale should be. Unlike an IPA where the hops leads the way (but should still be balanced) a pale ale can be slightly hop forward or slightly malt forward. This one leads a bit towards the hop end, but the balance is right there.

This brew is medium bodied and is slightly creamy. In terms of drinkability it is spot on. A wonderfully drinkable beer great for any time of the year. As I said before nothing on this beer jumps out at you and says this is something “wild and crazy” but it is a great example of a wonderfully brewed pale ale. I highly recommend it, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #51 Allagash White

About two weeks ago I was talking about how I was in an English ale mood. That phase has come and passed, unlike these guys who have a whole month devoted to English beers. Right now I am back where I was around this time last year, Belgian beers. I don’t know what is going on with my taste buds but it seems every two weeks I am in the mood for something totally different. It makes it tough as a homebrewer because I generally like to brew beer styles I like. At this rate I have no idea what I want. What does that have to do with a beer review? Well nothing, so let’s get to it.

As part of my Belgian beer kick I was lucky enough to find a four pack of Allagash White from the Allagash Brewing Comapny in Portland, Maine. Allagash White is classified as a Belgian White ale and totally delivers on the promise in every way. It pours a brilliant cloudy, golden color and has a nice fluffy white head to boot. The yeast that stays in the beer at the time of bottling can easily been seen in suspension. The nose is light, but full of aromas. The first thing I noticed was the Belgian yeast spices (clove, banana, etc). There was also a light malt sweetness thrown in there.

On the tongue there is a light lemon flavor up front. The Belgian yeast follows soon after with the banana coming first, then followed by the clove. It finishes with a wonderful aftertaste, that leaves you wanting more. It is very crisp and refreshing as well. A Belgian White is supposed to be a light, delicate beer that is full of flavor, but is also so well balanced that the smallest mistake could throw that balance off. Allagash White is light and watery in the mouthfeel department, as you would expect for the style. This is an unmistakably drinkable beer. Great for a hot day or a warm spring day. It goes down easily and has enough of everything to make you want more.

When I first had this I was on a run of Belgian Tripels, so this seemed a bit watered down and unappealing. The more I drank it the more I found that I liked it. It was very subtle in it’s approach to a Belgian style beer. I really enjoyed it and I think you would too. The bottle is also a fun read because they should you how to pour the beer to get everything you can out of it. I always enjoy when breweries do the small extra things in helping educate the drinker. Again, this is a wonderful beer, try it if you get the chance. (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 #42 Winter Lager

When I first got into craft beer, Sam Adams was one of the breweries that helped bridge the gap. Sam Adams a.k.a. Boston Beer Company does a great job at making flavorful beer that is acceptable the the majority of beer drinkers out there. They may not make everything that a seasoned craft beer drinker would like, but they do a great job of opening people up to new styles and flavors.

Winter Lager was always one of my favorites so when I saw it in the store I grabbed it. It pours a nice amber, ruby color and it is perfectly clear. There is also a fluffy off-white head. The nose on the beer is toasty, malty, and some slightly fruity esters in there. The fruity part is slightly surprising being that it is a lager and generally, lagers are cleaner tasting than ales and they generally do not produce a lot of esters either.

The taste is nice an malty. The malt sweetness is upfront with toasty and bready flavors throughout. There is a slight hop on the back-end but it is not overwhelming in the slightest. Sam Adams Winter Lager comes in at 5.80% ABV as well. This is a super drinkable beer that I think most would enjoy. It is light-medium in body and has a great aftertaste. I think this is a decent introduction to seasonal beers and fits well into the winter seasonal “style.” I still want something darker and richer for winter time, but, being that this is a mass produced beer on a much larger scale than I usually talk about, I will let it slide. (more…)

Lancaster Brewing Company Hop Hog Beer Review

09-02-26-10Lancaster Brewing Company’s Hop Hog is one of the four beers the offer year round. You can read the description that LBC gives their hoppy brew on the right.

This is actually one of the first microbrews that I ever had so it will always have a special place in my heart. At the time I first tried it, it was a bit hoppy for me. Now, I think it is just right. Anyway, this beer changes drastically from keg to bottle. Obviously keg is better but the bottled version is nothing to laugh at.

Opening up the bottle there is a pleasant floral/hop aroma with a hint of malt base. It carries a decent head that lasts through the whole drink and Hop Hog possessed excellent lacing. The brew pours and orange/copper color and is extremely clear (common of most IPAs).

As you can see on the right, there is a ton of hops, but the malt character does a great job at balancing the flavors. It is very dry and the drink just falls off of your tongue. Unlike some beers that have an unpleasant hop taste left after the drink has left your mouth (see CBC EPA), this has a lingering hop but it is right on for an IPA. I’m drinking a bottle that I bought four months ago at the time of writing this and the hop flavor still seems fresh.

As for most IPA’s the mouthfeel is very light and goes down easily. It is a very drinkable beer that gets better down the glass. I prefer mine slightly above fridge temperature as there are some notes that really pop right around there. As you can probably tell, this isn’t one of those brews that I have had a 6-pack of. I’ve drank Hop Hog several times, and I will continue to do so so it is an excellent IPA and a local one at that. (more…)