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12-18-00

Beer Review #311 G-Thing

12-18-03The good folks over at Magic Hat Brewing Company recently sent me a few samples of their winter beers. The first was a return to the line-up in Heart of Darkness. I still really enjoy that beer and I’ve actually gone to seek out more on my own accord. Today’s beer is named G-Thing. When I read the label my first thought was “that’s an awesome gingerbread man” and my second though, well more of a song, was Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg’s Ain’t Nothing But A G Thang. Yup, I went there.

G-Thing pours a nice deep dark brown that I half expected in a winter beer. There is a slight tan-ish head, but not a ton going on. The note of this beer is really interesting. You obviously get some ginger, and a good dose of it. Being the ginger there are some really nice bready notes. This beer surprised me in it’s ability to capture as much malt as it did. I wasn’t expecting that much malt to come through when compared to the ginger.

On the first taste I was very open to the malt flavors. They flowed in nicely and exhibited some nice dark caramels and bread notes. The ginger spice comes in about halfway through the drink and makes for a wonderful addition. I will full admit that I’m not much of a ginger fan, but this beer stays in balance. I didn’t get much in the way of hops but the beer finishes dry. It reminds me of an English style beer in that the malt and body are there until the end.

It was pretty easy to drink this beer quickly. It was refreshing and had a nice mix of flavors to stay interesting as it warmed. With the holidays quickly approaching this beer would make for a nice drinker during a holiday party. With the cold weather that we have had here on the east coast, I have found myself turning to this style of beer. I think it fits the season nicely and fulfills the goals of a seasonal beer.

Beer Review #250 Wooly ESB

I have reached the 250 beer review mark. I consider myself accomplished, my wife and parents think that I drink too much. Today’s beer review is the second of three beers that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me. The bottle says that this beer is an ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, with spruce. I’m not generally a fan of spruce flavored things as it makes me think about tree sap a bit too much. Extra Special Bitter is a bit of a misnomer for many newcomers to craft beer. They are expecting something really hoppy, and an ESB just isn’t that. ESB is an English beer style that, while significantly more bitter than an English Mild, is not all that bitter in the grand scheme of things.

Wooley pours a wonderful clear orange color. It has a thin white head that clings to the side of the glass. The nose is nice and malty. It’s an interesting mike of sweet and dry that you often find in English style beers. There are also some dried fruit odors that are probably the result of the yeast strain used to make this beer. There is a slightly spicy hop smell that lingers in the background along with a slight hint of spruce. Since the spruce was so light in the nose, it gave me hope that it wasn’t going to overwhelm the beer/my taste buds.

There is a nice dose of malt and biscuit on the front end of this beer. It is followed with the fruity esters found in the nose, mainly small bits of plum and cherry. The hops come in on the second half and do a nice job of replacing the other flavors in a balanced way. The hops are slightly spicy and the spruce gives a nice resin taste that adds to the bitterness. Everything mixes nicely to give this beer an earthy quality that I always enjoy.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I’m usually not a fan of spruce flavored anything,but this beer does a good job of keeping that flavor in check. I really enjoyed sipping on this one while getting caught up on episodes of American Horror Story. This beer comes in at 4.5% and I can imagine downing one of these after shoveling some snow when you don’t want something heavy but you also want something with some balls. It’s refreshing and crisp, while delivering plenty of flavor.¬† (more…)

Beer Review #200 +/- (Plus Minus)

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The second beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me is called +/- or in English, Plus Minus. Plus Minus is an English style beer that Magic Hat classifies as a Dark Mild. Sorry no intro video to share for this beer, but their website does have this to say about the beer, “Brewed with the tradition English style in mind, +/- aims to bring drinkers a truly sessionable craft beer experience.”

Plus Minus pours a deep copper to ruby color with a thin off-white head. The nose is very rich with caramels. There are also some roasty components to the nose, but overall there really isn’t a lot happening. I didn’t get any hops or any other notable odors from this one up front.

This beer has a very interesting flavor combination. It starts out bready but then a dry caramel flavor comes in and dominates for awhile. Right when you start to get tired of the caramel  some nice clean bitterness kicks in. The hops are not super strong, but they do their job of cutting the bitterness and drying out the beer more than it already was. Like the last beer I tried, Plus Minus is very clean tasting. There is a slight dry roastiness that sits with you for awhile and I thought it added a nice touch to the ending of this beer.

At 4.2% this is a beer that you could drink several of and not have many problems. I really liked the interesting mix of flavors but I do have to warn you that this beer isn’t for everyone. I have found that a lot of U.S. beer drinkers do not care for many of the dry English styles of beer, and this one falls right into that area. If you dig dry English beer with flavors that are more dull than bright, this one is right up your alley. I would really like to try this one on cask and see how it changes in that setting. (more…)

Beer Review #171 Prelude Special Ale

My then girlfriend (now wife) and I visited the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine a few years ago during a road trip through the northeast. I remember being surprised at how small the building seemed to be for the amount of beer they produce. I generally like their beers but there are a few that have been disappointing me recently (namely their pumpkin beer).

Prelude Special Ale is Shipyard’s winter beer and one of their better beers. The beer pours a nice caramel color with a slightly off-white head. The nose is full of caramel and toffee. There is some slight biscuit sweetness in there as well, but no hops of any kind.

On the first taste the caramel makes an appearance right away. It isn’t an overwhelming caramel flavor, but provides a solid malt base. A nice biscuit flavor then mixes in along with some slight toffee. Hops make their appearance on the backside of this beer and they linger on your tongue for awhile. They are not overly bitter but they do add a nice punch of flavor. This beer also drys out very nicely.

I really liked this beer. This beer is classified as a Winter Warmer but that particular category is pretty open in terms of flavor and alcohol. Prelude Special Ale seems to fit more into the English style of Winter Warm according to my taste buds. I found it very drinkable and it really fits nicely with the winter season. I would be happy to try this beer again. (more…)

Beer Review #104 Springfling Ale

Blue Point Brewing Company out of Patchogue, New York has been in my head quite a bit recently. I had never heard of the brewery until The Brewery Show did a episode about them towards the beginning of April. Since then I have noticed many of their brews popping in in local stores. I generally tend to grab seasonal beers before any other type, so I my introduction to Blue Point is Springfling Ale.

The beer’s label says that it is a copper ale, but I have seen other classifications have it as an American Pale Ale. Regardless of the classification, this ale pours a nice copper color (shocker) and comes with a nice white head. The nose has some bright hops with hints of grapefruit. There is some maltiness in there as well with hints of caramel and bread.

On the first taste the hops come in strongly, freshly, and well balanced. I didn’t get a ton of unique malt flavor, but the hops and malt were in a wonderful marriage with each other. I believe they use an English-style ale yeast for this beer because I noticed some slight fruity dryness in the flavors as well. Generally, this flavor doesn’t come from American ale yeast.

This beer is pretty solid. It isn’t unique in any way, but it is a good beer. It also comes in at 6% ABV so it doesn’t rock your shocks off. I am looking forward to seeing what else this brewery offers since my test for a good brewery generally starts at a pale ale, but that is a post for another time. (more…)