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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…)

Custom Brewcrafters English Pale Ale Beer Review

09-02-19-05A friend of mine lived in upstate New York for the past few years and he brought me a bottle of Custom Brewcrafters’ English Pale Ale. He had previously brought me their Double Dark Cream Porter which I liked a great deal, so I figured this one would be on the same level.

09-02-19-02The bottle reads, “a well balanced amber ale with a smooth dry finish.” I opened the bottle to a nice pfff and it had a nice malty smell to it. There was a small bit of hops in there as well as a strange sour smell. I couldn’t put my nose to it, but there was something off. The beer pours a nice copper color but not super clear. There is a bit of cloudiness in there but as a homebrewer cloudiness is not a big deal.

Upon my first sip I couldn’t get very much mouthfeel. This beer felt very light and drinkable on basis of mouthfeel. Taste is another matter. There was not much malt flavor, the sour smell continued into the taste, and the hop bitterness stayed around just a little too long. The bottle was correct with the dry finish as the flavors drop right off of your tounge, but the bitterness lingers. It’s not a terrible beer by any strech, but it’s not a good one either. There was a little funk that threw this off. After checking around the net, it’s not just me that has had this problem with this brew. Maybe it is something they are trying to get into their beer, but it only takes away from it. If you are out and about and see this, pick it up if you have some extra cash, but better get a buddy give it to you for free like I did.

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SB Birthday Beer

09-02-16-01One of my dear friends is turning 21 soon and she asked if I could make a homemade beer for her. Naturally I was thrilled that someone other than my roommate and I wanted to drink my beer, so I accepted the challenge. She is a big tea freak and wanted some tea flavor in the beer. I decided that a wheat beer would be ideal for a tea flavored beer. Wheat beers carry a lot of complex flavors that I thought would compliment the beer nicely.

I made a trip out to my homebrew store last week and got all of the necessary supplies. Below is a list of everything I picked up:

  • 3 pounds American 2-Row Pale malt
  • 3 pounds Wheat malt
  • 1 pound 60 Crystal malt
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (3.6%)
  • 1 tube liquid American Hefeweizen Ale yeast

I know that most wheat beers generally have a 50% wheat grain bill, but I wanted to make this an amber colored wheat beer and the homebrew store was running a bit low on wheat malt. This is supposed to make about 4 gallons worth of beer. I started my mash trying to get the grains to 110 degrees for 15 minutes, then 125 degrees for 15 minutes, and then finally 153 degrees for 45 minutes. All of these different temperatures are an attempt to release different characteristics from the wheat.

I boiled for the normal 60 with a half ounce of the Saaz going for the full boil and the other half ounce going for the last 15. I took the beer off the burner and put two teabags into wort leaving them there for only a minute or so. theĀ  Everything went well and I cooled down the wort and pitched the yeast. The next day I took a look at my airlock and bubbles were firing away.

09-02-17-02I was unsure of the tea she wanted to use when I got my supplies. The day before brew day she gave me Chi Tea. I’m not a big tea guy so I made up a cup and found it to be very gingery. Not something I would put with a wheat beer with hefeweizen yeast. That’s the reason for such a short time in wort. I think the Chi would of gone great with a winter warmer type beer as the flavors are those I typically taste in a winter beer. At first glance I achieved an effieceny of 75% from my batch sparge and we are looking at an ABV of 4.3%. I’m pretty happy with that and I’m looking forward to trying this beer as it ages through and finally is ready to drink out of a bottle on her birthday in March.

Victory Brewing Company Hop Wallop Beer Review

I’m going to go ahead and bring it back to PA for this beer review, with Victory Brewing Comapny’s Hop Wallop. Before I go into it, lets see what Victory has to say about their brew:

We celebrate the pioneering spirit of old Horace ‘Hop’ Wallop and those who dare mighty adventurous things in this vivid, robust ale. As our annual homage to the hop harvest, expect loads of aromatic splendor and bitter beauty.

Malts: Imported German malts
Hops: American whole flowers
Alcohol by volume: 8.5%”

Man-o-man is this thing good. They don’t call it a Wallop for no reason. This is a seasonal brew by Victory, starting in November and lasting for a limited time. Luckily, at 8.5% this beer can sit around for a bit and still be good (though the hops will fade a bit).

I was excited to get my hands on this. To start off with the beer has a nice hop/piney smell. There is a bit of citrus and alachol (not suprisingly) in there as well, but they are much more subtle. It pours a briliant oragne and as with most IPA’s, is very, very clear. There is a thick head that pours with the beer, and it stays through the entire drink.

When you take your first sip, you immeditaly notice the hops. The hop flavor carries through the entire drink and stays on your touge. There is a bit of malty goodness in the middle, but it is overshadowed by the ever-present hop. The hops do a nice job of hidding the alachol taste as well, as there is almost none present.

I could easily recommend this beer to any hop head. It might be too overpowering for someone not used to hops. The extreme hoppy flavors mixed with the slight malt gives a decent ballance. I know I keep going to local beers, but it is what I have the most access and experience with. The next review will be from much further away. Go try a Hop Wallop if you have the chance! (more…)