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Beer Review #63 Anchor Summer Beer

Now that I am finally settled into my new living quarters I can start getting back to my long neglected beer blog. Today I have Anchor Brewing Company’s Anchor Summer Beer. This beer was actually first brewed back in 1984 and over 50% of the malt is composed of wheat. Clearly this beer has to have something behind it or they would not of continued to brew it for the past 26 years.

It pours a golden straw color and is perfectly clear. For some reason I was expected to see some haze if not a lot of haze because of the amount of wheat malt used in the making of the beer. But it is perfectly clear and has a fluffy white head to boot (the head is a direct result of the wheat malt). The nose is slightly malty, with a lot of biscuit and bread components. There are not really any hops to be found. This beer smelled like something my wife would love. When the biscuit is in the aftertaste she loves that beer. This already has it in the nose.

The first flavors in the beer mimic the smell very nicely. The bready/biscuit flavors are all there. Again there are no real hops present in the taste. The backend has a slight spice to it, which I would normally attribute to hops, but it was a different kind of spice. It is very light and watery in the mouth. The carbonation was where it should of been as well.

Overall this isn’t something that I would normally drink a lot of. It is light and not packed with flavor. It does deliver perfectly in the summer beer department. While light, it is super refreshing. I can see sitting out on a hot summers night and sipping down a few of these. If you are a summer beer fan this one is for you. It is not going to knock your socks off, but it will provide a quality craft brew to help cool you down. (more…)

What to expect from a beer

When I was new into the craft beer scene I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. There are so many choices that it is a bit overwhelming. There are also a lot of random names that appear over and over again on bottles of beer that seem to give some type of classification. Pale Ale, Stout, Porter, Lager, these words appear on a lot of beer labels after the actual name of the beer. If you don’t know what they mean, you might be getting into something that you don’t want or like.

While there are a lot of names, beer is pretty simple. Like wine, beer is broken down into styles. Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Champagne are all different types of wine, and you have an idea of what to expect when you hear them. The same follows through for beer. Hell, dogs are even classified and you know what to expect from one breed to another. Like wine, beer is basically broken down into to main categories where everything else stems from. In the wine world, white or red are the start of the branching out. In the beer world, you fall under lager and ale.

Unlike the wine world (at least in my experience), an ale can taste like a lager and a lager can taste like a beer. These two classifications simple refer to the type of yeast that was used in making the beer. In general ales ferment at a higher temperature, take less like to ferment, and also ferment on the top of the beer. Lager yeast is the exact opposite, they like lower temperatures, long fermentation times, and ferment on the bottom of the beer.

So knowing a lager from an ale might help you with a few things, but not a whole lot. Out of those two main branches of the beer world grows a much fuller tree. I’m not going to address what each style is right now as that would take a long time to complete, but when looking at a beer, the style tells you what to expect from the beer. When you see stout on a label, you expect a thick, dark colored beer with a tan head that is going to be smooth and full of roasty flavors. If you were expecting to get something like that out of a pilsner, you are sadly mistaken. I am going to be doing a “series” on beer styles and explore each one and give recommendations on good examples of each style. But just remember that when you want to know what to expect from a beer, look at the style and you will have a much deeper understanding of what you will be tasting.

Beer Review #46 Winterhook Winter Ale

I got my hands on a winter beer that I have never seen before the other day. That beer was Winterhook Winter Ale by Redhook Ale Brewery out of Woodinville, Washington. My main surprise with finding this beer is that there were spring seasonals (reviews to come) sitting next to it. I’ve had a few other Redhook beers before, but I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this one since my winter beer experience has been so varied.

The ale pours a dark brown color with some ruby-like highlights when held in the light. It is clear and has a thin tan head. The nose on the beers is malty and slightly fruity. Caramel is the strongest of the malt odors coming from the glass. There is a bit of spice on it, but I really couldn’t pick up exactly what it was. There is also some slight hops on the nose, but not overwhelmingly so.

Winterhook has a good malt body and a nice hop bite on the end. There is a slight Belgian like yeast or spice flavor in there as well. It was much cleaner and more hidden than a normal Belgian, but there was a bit of a kick from it to be found in the beer. The hop gets more and more pronounced the more you get into the drink as well. The ale has a medium mouthfeel and, as I said before, and really nice body.

Winterhook is a super drinkable winter ale. It isn’t really high on the ABV rankings coming in at 5.9% but it has a great balance of everything. It is a nice winter ale that I think a lot of people would really enjoy. There are a lot of flavors going on and it takes a bit of time to break them all down. The beer also had great lacing if that is important to you. Overall I enjoyed this beer but it wasn’t my favorite winter ale of the season. (more…)

Beer Review #45 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

While I am stuck in Texas my family back home is getting hit with another snow storm, not as bad as last week’s storm though. This one is only going to be dropping a foot and a half on them. When I think of winter or snow, there is only one drink that will help balance out all of that white. That drink is a stout. Nice, dark, rich, creamy, silky, and roasty are all words that come to mind when I think of a stout.

I recently had the pleasure of have a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout again. I first had it a year or so ago and loved it. I finally got the chance to have it again and I did not pass up on the opportunity. It pours a deep black with a brownish/tan head. It is actually clear if you tilt the glass a bit to get a thin cross section of the beer. On the nose there are a lot of roasty aromas. It has a slightly bitter/sour smell like that of unsweetened coco.

The first sip is fully of roasty flavors. It is super malty and has a sweetness, mostly do to the oatmeal grain that it is brewed with. I got a lot of bakers chocolate in there as well along with hints of campfire. That might sound odd, but it is wonderful. The mouthfeel is silky but also thick. It goes down very easy.

Overall I think this is a great stout. It is very drinkable and I could easily put away a few of these things. Some might find it filling, but I don’t have a problem with it. When I think of an oatmeal stout, Samuel Smith’s is what a reference everything to. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a solid stout. (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…)