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Beer Review #221 New Glarus Raspberry Tart

My buddy Mike is really big into curling (you know the sport where they bowl rocks on ice and sweep in front of the rock?) and he recently brought over a few beers from his travels. New Glarus Brewing Company is one of those mythical breweries for a lot of craft beer drinkers as they do not distribute outside of Wisconsin and their beers get consistently high marks from the big beer review websites. I was very happy when he offered up a few bottles to me for review.

Raspberry Tart is a  Framboise which is French for raspberry. The beer comes in  a green glass 750 ml bottle that is capped and then sealed with a nice layer of wax. The logo is rather simple (which I like). Raspberry Tart pours a clear light ruby color. A medium off-white head sits on top of the beer and never really fades. The nose is obviously full of raspberries that are very sweet. There is also a sour tart smell in there as well which cuts through the sweetness a bit in the nose. Right off the bat, you can smell why this beer is called Raspberry Tart.

The raspberry flavor continues into the flavor, but it doesn’t overpower it. The raspberry flavor is fresh and non-syrupy. A solid sourness kicks in about halfway through and, as the nose suggests, helps cut out some of the sweetness. This beer finishes sweet and there is not hint of hops through the entire beer.

This beer is very nice and very drinkable. For a fruit beer, this one is very nicely done. I think a glass was enough for me as the sweetness starts to get to me after a bit. For what this beer is supposed to be, it hits everything on the head. I very much enjoyed it and I’m glad that I had the chance to partake in a beer that is only available in one state. (more…)

Beer Review #217 Elder Betty

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

The other new beer that Magic Hat sent me as part of their summer sampler was Elder Betty, a elderberry weiss. I’m generally not a big fan of fruit beers, but I am a fan of Magic Hat #9 which is an apricot beer, so I know that they know what they are doing with it comes to fruit beers. The big key with fruit beers is not making them too sweet. Many times a beer will have a great flavor, but the sweetness to get the desired flavor overwhelms the beer. I don’t think that I have ever had elderberries in a beer prior to this one.

Elder Betty pours a nice light orange color. It is very cloudy and has a nice white head. The nose is super fruity with the elderberries taking center stage. Behind the fruit there are some bits of bread and toasted oats, but the main character in the odor of this beer is berries.

On my first taste I was surprised that the berries didn’t show up right off the bat. Rather, a nice honey malt flavor took center stage at the opening. A mild berry flavor comes in, but it is not nearly as strong as the nose promises, which is a good thing. There is some slight bread at the finish but no signs of hops. This beer finishes a bit too sweet for my liking, but as I have said before, I think that a lot of fruit beers finish too sweet. There were no hop flavors present to help dry Elder Betty out.

This isn’t a bad fruit beer and I would actually consider it one of the better ones that I have ever had. The berry flavor is mild enough to not totally kill this beer. I think my favorite part about this beer was that I wasn’t burping berry flavor for the whole night. If they could just find a way to dry this one out a bit more it I would enjoy it much more. For a guy who really doesn’t like fruit beers, this one was rather drinkable. (more…)

Beer Review #198 Shipyard Applehead

I’ve surprisingly only reviewed on Shipyard Brewing Company beer on this site thus far, but I have had about a dozen or so of their beers. Heck, I’ve even taken a tour of their brewery in Portland, Maine. It scares me sometimes to think about the number of beers that I have had that I haven’t had a chance to review or drank before I started this site. One day I will get back to Shipyard and properly review their other offerings.  I was a bit surprised when I saw an apple based beer on the shelves. Shipyard makes a pumpkin beer named Pumpkinhead, so I guess this beer is the counterpart to their fall seasonal.

Applehead pours an apple juice color (shocker). The thin head quickly fizzles out and leaves a clear liquid below. The nose is strong on apple (again shocker) but there is more than just apple. I found some toasted odors along with an ale smell. This beer had esters! There was also some good cinnamon in the background which I half expect with anything apple based.

On the first taste I was again shocked (/sarcasm) by the strong apple flavors. There is some interesting toasted notes about halfway through which added some decent complexity and a change from apple. Cinnamon finishes the beer nicely as there was not hop flavor. I don’t think that hops would work in an apple beer as the flavors just don’t compliment each other. This beer comes in at 4.5% and is very light and watery in the mouth. I’m not a fruit beer fan and I did hesitate on buying this beer, but I’m glad I tried it. As far as fruit beers go this is one of the better ones I’ve had (I’m on a streak). There is some nice balance and the apple flavor isn’t overwhelming/the only flavor. While it’s not a beer that I would pick up often, I am open to purchasing this beer again. (more…)


Portland Breweries: McMenamins

07-21-01McMenamins is another chain that has dozens of locations in the Portland area. I know you are thinking that I traveled across the country to visit chain breweries; this is the last one. We went to the McMenamins Crystal Ball location. The funny thing is that have an additional bar the next block down. Weird.

McMenamins was a werid place overal, but I dug it. When Smalls and I entered there was a large bar area, and a decent seating area. Overtop the bar was a huge concoction of things. Broken glass, odd figures, bits and pieces of just about anything. It gave a folky vibe, which for an Irish place, is somewhat fitting. Smalls and I ordered our normal water and sampler.

In the sampler was a fruit beer, pale ale, stout, pilsner, wheat, and a porter. Most Portland breweries seemed to have a good selection of brews that run the gambit. To start out with we had the Pilsner called Bagdad Ale. It was a pretty tasty Pilsner with nice sutble flavors that would be perfect on a hot day. It was a great example of how you can use ale yeast for a lager. We then moved onto the wheat named Edgefield Wheat. I was alright, a typical American Wheat which some not subtle flavors but nothing to write home about.

The fruit beer was next on the list. It was called the Ruby and was pinkish in color. I never really had a beer that was that color before, so I was a little werided out. It is brewed a puree of Oregon grown raspberries as well. IF you have read this blog in the past, you know I’m not a fan of fruit beers, and this one did not agree with me. It was too sweet, to overly fruited (is that even correct english?) and there was nothing other than fruit. Not a fan.

Terminator Stout was McMenamins offering of a stout. Pretty typical flavors, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. I enjoyed it, but then again a typical tasting stout is pretty good on its own. Black Rabbit Porter was pretty excellent. It had a nice coffee flavor to it and Smalls promptly called dibs on it after tasting. Is it weird that I don’t like coffee, but I like coffee flavors in beer? Just saying. The final beer we had at McMenamins was their top seller, a pale ale, Hammerhead. It was a bit higher in hops than what I like in a pale ale but it was well balanced and fit the name. It was clean and really hit the spot.

The food wasn’t half bad at McMenamins either.  We got there for the lunch special and got all of our food and beer for under $25. Being that we had a $25 gift certificate, we each ordered another pint to finish it off. I got the Hammerhead and Smalls decided on the Pils. Pretty good place, both beer and food were not up to the standards of some of the future breweries I will write about from Portland. I would put the beer slightly behind Rock Bottom, and the food way behind it.