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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…)

Beer Review #195 Tweason’ale

Dogfish Head seems to have an endless supply of new beers. Tweason’ale is no exception to that “rule.” I believe that this is the first gluten free beer that Dogfish Head has ever produced. According to the bottle it is, “a gluten-free sorghum-based ale brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey.” I really dig strawberries in berry form but I often find that it fails to translate into other mediums (strawberry ice cream, strawberry cake, etc… all gross to me). I will give DFH credit on taking an interesting take to the growing gluten “problem.”

Tweason’ale pours an orange color with a reddish hue. There is a thin white head and the beer looks different than a normal beer. By that I mean that the liquid look deflated and the size of bubbles isn’t the same as a typical beer. The nose is firmly strawberry with lots of sweetness. I didn’t get any hops or anything else for that matter.

On the first taste the strawberry dominates as the predominate flavor in the beer. There is some sweetness and no real hops to balance it out. There is also an earthy/grassy component to this beer. I thought that it had a very “vitamin quality” to it. As you drink this beer you develop a strange feeling in the middle of the drink. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it doesn’t jive with the beer idea. Not a single bitterness component comes in to clean this beer up which I think it really needs.

I suppose for a fruit beer this one isn’t terrible but it also isn’t a style that agrees with me. When I read the label I was truly expecting something that wasn’t going to be very good, but this beer was better than expected. For my taste buds this beer had a lot going against it, but I was able to finish the glass and not hate myself for it. This is a one bottle beer for me, but again, not as bad as I expected. If you dig fruit beers or need/want gluten free beers, this might not be a bad option for you.

Beer Review #102 Aprihop

Aprihop is a spring seasonal beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery located in Milton, Delaware. This is one of the fest seasonal beers that they product that I have never had, so when I saw it in the store recently, I grabbed it up. Dogfish has this to say about their beer:

Aprihop is our fruit beer for hopheads!

It is an American IPA brewed with Pilsner and Crystal malts massively hopped in in the continuous fashion. The flavor is complemented by the addition of Apricots.

After fermentation the beer is dry hopped with irresponsible amounts of Amarillo hops. The beer is hoppy in the aroma with the apricots playing a supporting complimentary role.

It sounded like an interesting combination to me. Generally I’m not a fan of fruit beers, but I have never had an IPA version of a fruit beer. The bottle clearly says “an Indian Pale Ale brewed with real apricots.” I enjoy their Punkin Ale so I figure that this beer will also be a nice balance. The beer pours a ruby/amber color and comes with a slightly off-white head. The nose has a faint hoppy odor but it is very strong on the apricots.

On the first taste the apricots really hit home. They are then followed by a slight roasted malt flavor and then the hops kick in. It was actually a very nice progression. The hops and apricots mix wonderfully in the aftertaste as well. After drinking this beer for a bit of time, the apricots fade out of taste and the hops really start to come out. I thought this beer was pretty good but the apricots do get old quickly. Aprihop comes in at 7% ABV and it was a nice attempt at something that hasn’t really been done before. I’m not a huge fan of fruit beers but  I found this to be one of the more drinkable ones out there. (more…)

Beer Review #81 Shiner Holiday Cheer

I made my first post about Shiner almost two years ago to the day. Shiner is one of the big Texas beers and at the time I was getting ready to move to Texas. Since that time, I’ve lived in Texas, and come back east and now live in Delaware. Surprisingly I can get this beer in Delaware. Shiner is brewed by the Spoetzl Brewery out of Shiner, Texas. On my last post about Shiner beer Lee from I Love Beer suggested that I try their Holiday Cheer. So I did.

Shiner Holiday Cheer pours a burnt amber color with a light tan head that quick fades back into the ale. It pours crystal clear as well. The nose is pretty interesting. The bottle says that it is an “ale brewed with peaches and pecans and with natural flavor and caramel color.” That’s a lot of “ands’.” The nose is peachy for sure. I didn’t really get anything else other than peach. The peach is super bright and vibrant. Most “fruit” beers don’t offer fresh smells, this one does. It also smelled like a fruit gum.

The taste doesn’t have a lot upfront. Peaches kick in during the middle part of the taste and continue through the rest of the beer. There is some nice biscuit in there as well. It has some slight nut character to it as well. I like it. The mouthfeel is light to watery, but it fits this beer nicely. It is a drinkable beer but I always fall into a trap with beers with fruit in them. The trap is that they are usually sweet and get undrinkable quickly. For my tastes, one glass was enough. It was easy enough drinking for more, but the sweetness would get to me. The side benefit is that I am going to be burping peaches for the rest of the day. Try it if you want something unique and easy drinking. (more…)