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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 Reviews #276 Ticket to Rye

03-02-03 Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The other beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me is a Rye IPA, dubbed Ticket to Rye. I take it as a play on the board game Ticket to Ride. I would like to take credit for incorporating Ticket to Ride into beer before anyone else to my knowledge. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, example 1. Again, if you haven’t played it, you should.

Ticket to Rye pours a nice caramel brown color with bit of red mixed in when held up to the light. It has a two finger off-white head along with a bit of haze. The nose has some solid citrus and pine hops. The hops are edging on pungent, but don’t make it all of the way there. Some really hoppy beers have a different level of hop aroma and produce an odor that takes on a life of its own. This beer is close, but stays out of the world. The hops end with a nice spicy note that may or may not come from the rye malt. There is some sweet malt mixed in the smell as well but the hops are the showcase here.

The taste has some really nice hoppy flavors. The citrus from the nose isn’t really there but the pine sure is. The spicy hops also make a valuable flavor contribution. The hops actually lean a bit towards the grassy flavor spectrum. A lot of people talk poorly about grassy flavors but it works in some beers, this being one of them. The malt flavor is not distinct but it is present and provides a solid backbone for the hop.

I’m a big fan of rye IPAs and this is a good one. It finishes nice and dry. I don’t get a lot of rye. I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it. As an IPA this beer provides a good hop punch with a solid malt backbone. Ticket to Rye comes in at a nice 7.1%. It is very enjoyable and I would be happy to purchase this beer. (more…)

Beer Review #274 New Albion Ale

02-28-02I have a true craft beer for review today. Perhaps THE craft beer, well the first modern one anyway. New Albion Brewing Company opened in 1976 and shutdown in 1982. It was just ahead of it’s time when it came to craft beer in America. Today’s version is brewed by the Boston Beer Company, but it uses the exact recipe from the original brewery. I love seeing things like this happen, it helps carry on a true legacy in our young craft brewing industry.

New Albion Ale pours a pale golden color. There is just a slight hint of some haze in there. A think white head goes along with everything and it eventually fades to just a ring around the edge of the glass. The nose has some slight pine/citrus hops along with a light malt sweetness. You can smell that this beer uses cascade hops. After some quick research I found that this beer only uses cascade hops and American 2-row for the malt. This is referred to as a SMASH beer as it uses a single malt and single hop.

The malt flavor is very light on this one. The cascade hops come in soon after the malt leaves but they are not the same cascade hops that we are used to by today’s standards. They are very mild and do not showcase the bitterness and flavor range that most are used to. They are slightly piney and citrusy but they are not strong at all. They are very muted to my taste and they actually are a bit more grassy then I remember.

This one comes in at 6.0% ABV. It’s a highly drinkable beer and a really cool throwback to what used to be/before I was born. I love seeing how craft beer has evolved over time and this beer really puts things perspective. This isn’t a killer beer by any means and the hopping rate isn’t enough by today’s standards, but its a hommage to the love of craft beer. (more…)

Beer Review #270 Bluegrass Saison

02-14-03As you can tell from the leaves on the tree in the background of the photo, I first had this beer a little while ago. I just finished my last bottle so it’s review time. Bluegrass Saison, or just Saison is brewed by the Bluegrass Brewing Company of Louisville, KY. A friend who lives in the area brought a six pack of this beer back for me after a visit. I’m also out to try a new Saison so I happily took the sixer.

Bluegrass Saison pours a clear orange color. It has a fluffy white head that deflates to half of its original size and then stops. The nose has a nice sweet caramel malt odor along with some honey. There is also a slight sour note along with a bit of funk. I tasted this on the first through last bottles that I tried on this beer and the flavor didn’t change, so I’m assuming that means it is there by design. Nothing wrong with a little funk but this wasn’t your typically “wet hay” smell.

This beer is surprisingly grassy for a Saison. It’s nothing compared to some other beers that I have had, but it’s the most grassy Saison that I have ever had. The malt flavor is really nondescript as the high carbonation level really washes it out. There is a slight sour note through this beer and it ends with a hint of bread. I didn’t get a lot of Belgian yeast characteristics from this beer. Bluegrass Saison stays light in the mouth while staying balanced, but not very flavorful.

This beer is good but not great. There are lots of other Saisons that I prefer to this one. The funk either needs to be a bit more forceful or it needs to get out of the way. Perhaps a different yeast strain or fermenting temperature would benefit this beer. Again, it’s not a bad beer, but it just doesn’t measure up to others that I have had. (more…)

09-12-04

St. Arnold Brewing Company Texas Wheat

09-12-04My wife has been on a wheat beer kick for a little while now and we saw St. Arnold Texas Wheat at the store last week so we decided to test it out. I’ve heard some good things about St. Arnold Brewing Company so I wasn’t too scared of what I might be drinking. I’ve also been trying to add to my collection of Texas beers since I don’t plan on living here too long.

It twisted off the top to see what awaited me. The first impression I got from the beer was that it was surprisingly clear to be a wheat. Clear to the point that there was almost no haze and you could see though it easily. Not what I expected from a wheat beer what what can I do? It was golden in color with minimal head and looked more like a Pilsner than a wheat.

09-12-03The smells emanating from the glass where sweat, lemon, and some grass. I was kind of expecting all of those but I was also hoping for some wheat/bready smells that just did not happen. On the first taste I had trouble picking up much of the flavor. There were no hops and some lemon on the back. The beer almost tasted stale. All of the bright flavors seemed to have been taken away from it. The mouthfeel was light and washed off of the tongue quickly. The only strange thing about this beer is that it is brewed with a Kölsch yeast.

I don’t have much more to say on the beer. It wasn’t very drinkable; cat piss comes to mind. I just did not enjoy it. My wife did not either nor our friends who we tried to pawn it off on. From what I have read since we bought the beer, it is apparently the worst of their beers. Awesome. (more…)