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Beer Review #319 Cultivator Helles Bock

03-17-02Even though there is another snowstorm smacking parts of the Mid-Atlantic today spring is right around the corner. Spring means that it is helles bock season! One of the newest helles bock beers, or simply helles for short, is Cultivator Helles Bock by Troegs Brewing Company.  I was at their brewery in Hershey about a month ago and I had no idea they were going to be releasing a new beer.

Cultivator pours a nice yellow orange and has a thin white head that fades to just a covering. The nose has a slight bit of sulfur along with the typical “lager smell.” It also has a great honey-like sweetness along with a crisp biscuit. I really like the combination of odors going on in this beer. I didn’t get any hops as expected.

On the first taste I did notice the flavor at first, instead I noticed how nicely this beer drank. The flavors are wonderful, but this beer took me back to my trip to Germany. It’s darn authentic and lovely. Past the nostalgia, Cultivator is big everything a helles should be. It starts with a nice light sweetness that is intertwined with biscuit and wonderfulness.  The hops come in an provide a nice bit of balancing but still leave it a bit more on the sweet end of the scale. The hops taste fresh and floral.

I could seriously drink this beer all day. It’s wonderful and makes me want to sit down with some German meatloaf, potatoes, and a fried egg. Yup, it really did take me back to Germany. I will be purchasing more of this beer shortly. (more…)

Beer Review #280 Lancaster Pale Ale

04-01-03It’s been over a year since I last reviewed anything from Lancaster Brewing Company. They are a bit tough to find around me and I haven’t see anything new from them in some time (though I have picked up their wonderful Milk Stout from time to time). The last time that I was at the beer store I noticed something new from them (to me) a Pale Ale. It had a simple Americana logo, and I grabbed a bottle to try it out.

Lancaster Pale Ale pours a nice orange color with an off-white head. The nose has a slight floral hop and there isn’t any malt aroma to be found. I was actually a bit surprised by the smell of this one. I’m so used to the aggressive pale ales that I forget that the mild ones can hold a place. I still generally like a pale ale with a bit more to the aroma, but this one doesn’t sit too far outside of my desired zone.

The taste, unlike the nose, starts with a nice malt sweetness. The flavor then goes into a decent hop bitterness. There isn’t really a distinct hop flavor though, just bitterness. It was kind of odd not to have a defined flavor for the hops. The beer ends on a grassy note which I didn’t care for.

This is a pretty natural pale ale. A starter pale ale if you will. I don’t know if I just got an old bottle but nothing about this beer wowed me. I would love to see this beer come alive more and show some balls. Instead, it seems to be behind the pack. (more…)

Beer Review #149 Southern Tier Harvest Ale

I’ve had a number of Southern Tier Brewing Company beers in the past, but none have appeared on this site until now. I am constantly surprised by the number of beers that I have had, but have not reviewed for this site yet. In any case, Southern Tier is located in Lakewood, New York and they recently put on  a major addition to their brewery. I expect to be seeing a lot more of their beer in the stores soon.

Their Harvest Ale says clearly on the label, “4 varieties of hops and 2 different malts.” I guess this one isn’t going to be a malty monster full of caramel notes. This fall beer pours a nice light amber color with a fluffy white head. It is crystal clear if that matters to you.

The nose has loads of bright hops in it. They come off as floral and grapefruit. I was shocked at how fresh they smelled. It almost reminded me of a Peak Organic beer. I didn’t get anything other than hops in the aroma arena.The first taste has some nice sweet malt up front. The hops then kick in and take over. The same flavors promised in the aroma are there. Lots of grapefruit flavors flood over the sweet malt. The think that I found really interesting is that the hops don’t bite like a normal hop would. They rather melt into the malt than bite. It was an interesting experience and it really worked well.

This beer is clearly hop forward, but because of the way the hops come in the beer has the impression of being more balanced than it is. The bright hops made this one wonderfully drinkable and made me want more. I think I’m going back to the store to grab another sixer of this beer, I liked it that much. (more…)