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03-03-00

Beer Review #315 Olde School

03-03-02With yet another snowstorm hitting the east coast my mindset is squarely in barelywine mode. Unlike a lot of people, I love barelywines at anytime of the year, but there is something special about them as the snow is falling. They tend to be filling, warming, and just wonderful in all of the ways needed to survive the winter. Dogfish Head makes a ton of beers, but Olde School is one of my favorites. It comes in at 15% and is solidly in the “sipper category” of beers.

The beer pours a nice orange to amber color and is a bit on the cloudy side of things. It has a medium off-white head which lasts for longer than expected, being a high alcohol beer and all. The nose is complex and full, as a barelywine should be. The first thing that I get from this beer is grape and dried fruits. There is a bit of a sour funk in there, but in a big beer kind of way. If that makes sense. There is a lot of sweetness to the nose along with a slight heat. I always expect heat on a beer of this strength, but Olde School has a light touch on the nose in this respect. There are no real hops to the nose from what I can smell.

The taste is big on the malt. There is a slight roast on the end but a round caramel flavor comes in and really makes this beer chewy. The dried fruits are there along with some dark undertones to add a nice layer of complexity. There may not be a lot of heat on the nose, but it is very noticeable when tasting the beer. It’s a bit on the “too much” end of the scale, but all of the other components really draw me back. The hops make an appearance nicely in this beer. They are mixed throughout and give the beer a nice earthy flavor. They are bitter, but not over the top and help balance out the massive malt.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I really dig this beer. I think it fits in with the season and the barelywine style of beer. The bottle says “beer [that] ages with the best of ’em” and I think that’s 100% true. I have bottles of this beer that go back 3 years and it’s interesting to see  how the beer changes over time, but that’s a post for another time.  (more…)

Beer Review #35 Hoptober

Last month I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s Skinny Dip. I was a tad late on the review of their summer offering, but I am right on time for their fall beer, Hoptober. Hoptober is classified as a Golden Ale and was quite the steal at $7.49 a six pack. Don’t you just love sales. I happen to love New Belgium’s beer labels becasue they are always a bit new age, and odd. This one is no exception with outlines of people dancing around a fire. How does that relate to fall or hops, who knows? But it looks neat.

11-15-02

11-15-03Anyway the beer pours a brilliant golden color as you expect from a beer labeled Golden Ale. It is perfectly clean and has a think white head, with tiny bubbles. The head sticks to the top of the beer throughout the entire drink. On the nose, floral hops dominate. There is also a nice helping of sweet malt, and some almost, honey notes. There is a bit of pine smell in there as well. Generally I don’t like the piney hops, but this is in smell only.

The taste of the beer is mainly hops, hops, hops. Not that it is an overwhelming hop flavor like some IPAs, but rather a nice punch of them that compliments the malt very nicely. The malt has a strong enough backbone to support the hops and you can still get that sweetness from it. There is also a slight biscuit taste at the end of the beer. It finishes very nicely and crisply. There is a bit of an earthy flavor that can be found in the beer as well. I have found that to be pretty common with New Belgium’s beers as well.

11-15-04On the drinkability scale this one comes in pretty darn good. It is not nearly as hoppy as the name suggests that it would be, but there is a good punch of it. The hops are very bright and fresh tasting. This beer might not be for the new craft beer drinker or someone who does not like anything other than the American light lager, but most craft beer people will find this pleasing.

For a fall beer I was hoping for something a bit darker, with some richer notes. Hoptober comes in at 6% ABV in case you were wondering. It has a great aftertaste and just reeks of freshness (as should all seasonal beers). I really enjoyed it, but I have had beer fall beers before. If you like fresh hops and a good malt character, you will totally love this beer. Again it is not as hoppy as the name suggests, but it is super drinkable and enjoyable. My wife, who hates hoppy beers, even enjoyed this seasonal from New Belgium. (more…)