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Beer Review #247 Fall Summit Ale

I have finally gotten rid of my turkey hangover (to be clear, from food, not booze) and I am back to beer reviews. I asked if anyone was having anything special for Thanksgiving on Facebook, but I never answer the question myself. I had lot’s of homebrew along with today’s beer, Peak Organic Brewing Company’s Fall Summit Ale. I really enjoy POBC for their ability to capture a fresh, clean, and crisp hop nose.

Fall Summit Ale pours a nice orange amber color and has a full white head. It looks like a nice fall beer, the color matches the season. The nose has bunches of bright citrus hops. This beer doesn’t smell IPA hoppy, but the clarity shown by the hops is really nice. The hops really fill the nose and push everything else out of the way. In short, it’s wonderful.

There is a bit of malt up front which is followed by a good toasted, nutty malt flavor. The citrus hops do not stay at bay for long and flood in and wash out everything else. Unlike a lot of beers with a flood of hops, this is a nice transition and just leaves you wanting to take another sip.

I really liked this one. I wouldn’t consider it a fall beer as it doesn’t really have anything to do with season, but it is really enjoyable. Peak continues to live up to its name.

Beer Review #184 Union Jack IPA

In the past few years I have heard a whole lot about Firestone Walker Brewing Company and how amazing their beers are. Until recently, they have not distributed to my area and I haven’t been to an area that they did distribute to so I was SOL. Imagine my surprise when I was browsing the shelves of the beer store and stumbled upon a whole bunch of Firestone Walker beer. Now I didn’t get to grab as many as I wanted, you know budgets and all of that, but I did grab a Union Jack IPA. I have been on a slight IPA kick recently, and generally west coast IPAs do a good job of filling my IPA need. Firestone Walker is located in Paso Robles, CA and a quick Google search shows that area being in the middle of Los Angles and San Jose, IPA country.

A nice orange colored liquid flows out of the stout bottle along with a fluffy white head. The nose is pretty sweet with a good mix of hop aromas. There was lots of grapefruit and pine to go around with this one. Union Jack IPA is 7.5% ABV and I didn’t get a single drop of that on the nose of this beer.

There is a light malt flavor on the front end of this beer which is then follow by a healthy kick of hops. They are mainly citrus in flavor. I found them to be a wonderful mix of crisp but also lasting. By that I mean that the beer finishes out, but a fresh hoppy aftertaste stays. This isn’t like some hops that just stay on your tongue and don’t leave, these hops are squarely in the aftertaste realm.

I really dug this IPA. I found everything about it refreshing. It was perfectly balanced and didn’t have a ton of piney hops. The hops really flowed in well and then faded out. I might have to pick up more Firestone Walker beers if this beer is any indication of the quality of beer they produce. (more…)

Beer Review #79 First Snow Ale

I am way behind on beer reviews, in fact, I had to save some of the fall beers for next year since it seems a bit silly to be posting pumpkin beers at this point in the year. I am committed to knocking out all of the winter beers before the winter actaully ends this year. On my last trip to State Line Liquors I picked up a hoard of winter beers. In fact I grabbed every winter beer I could find with the exception of some pricey 750 ml Belgian bottles.  First Snow Ale by RJ Rockers Brewing Company was one of the last beers I saw.

This beer is brewed in Spartanburg, South Carolina and I’ve never heard of the brewery before so I was eager/leery of trying it. It seems fitting to post this tonight as snow is falling outside of my window. This winter offering pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a fluffy, off-white head.  It is crystal clear as I would of expected. The label says that honey and spices are used in the brewing of this beer. I noticed some honey sweetness on the nose, but no spices. I did get some slight grapefruit from the hops.

On the first taste I was surprised by the complexity of the beer. The spices tingle the tongue and the flavor is not nearly as hoppy as the nose suggests. There was also some nice bread notes to accompany the overall flavor. I was very happy with this purchase. First Snow Ale comes in at 6% ABV so it doesn’t rock your socks off, but it is a solid beer. I could see myself drinking this year round. It was refreshing and well balanced. I would recommend this beer to you if you see it. (more…)

Beer Review #41 Winter Welcome Ale

I have a few more winter seasonal beers to get though but today’s review comes all the way from Yorkshire, England. It is Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. I’ve had a few other Samuel Smith beers before and I have liked every single one. I think their Oatmeal Stout should be the standard of the style because it is just so perfect. Samuel Smith’s is also Yorkshire’s oldest brewery and dates back to 1758.

The beer pours a nice amber, copper color with a large fluffy head that quickly fades to a thin lace. It is perfectly clear and looks more the part of a winter beer than my last review did. The nose on the beer is full of a lot of fruity esters. In particular grape and dried fruit comes to mind. There is a bit of malt sweetness in there, but the fruit is the most prevalent smell. I didn’t get much in the way of hops on the nose though.

On the first sip, it tasted like an English pub ale with more than normal fruity esters. The fruit really comes through on the back-end of the beer. There was very limited malt flavor throughout the drink. There was also a bit of the hop bite on the end but it also finishes very crisp. The beer is extremely dry, perhaps one of the most dry beers that I have ever had. And the aftertaste is mostly biscuit and toasty flavors. It is an amazingly complex beer that really allows you to sample each layer.

This beer would be excellent for anyone who loves English ales. It isn’t hoppy at all and is packed with flavor. The flavors are not overwhelming, they are layered and a bit hidden. The more you drink it, the more things you find to taste. This ale comes in at 6% ABV. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you like complex beers or English ales, this one is for you. (more…)

Beer Review #35 Hoptober

Last month I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s Skinny Dip. I was a tad late on the review of their summer offering, but I am right on time for their fall beer, Hoptober. Hoptober is classified as a Golden Ale and was quite the steal at $7.49 a six pack. Don’t you just love sales. I happen to love New Belgium’s beer labels becasue they are always a bit new age, and odd. This one is no exception with outlines of people dancing around a fire. How does that relate to fall or hops, who knows? But it looks neat.

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11-15-03Anyway the beer pours a brilliant golden color as you expect from a beer labeled Golden Ale. It is perfectly clean and has a think white head, with tiny bubbles. The head sticks to the top of the beer throughout the entire drink. On the nose, floral hops dominate. There is also a nice helping of sweet malt, and some almost, honey notes. There is a bit of pine smell in there as well. Generally I don’t like the piney hops, but this is in smell only.

The taste of the beer is mainly hops, hops, hops. Not that it is an overwhelming hop flavor like some IPAs, but rather a nice punch of them that compliments the malt very nicely. The malt has a strong enough backbone to support the hops and you can still get that sweetness from it. There is also a slight biscuit taste at the end of the beer. It finishes very nicely and crisply. There is a bit of an earthy flavor that can be found in the beer as well. I have found that to be pretty common with New Belgium’s beers as well.

11-15-04On the drinkability scale this one comes in pretty darn good. It is not nearly as hoppy as the name suggests that it would be, but there is a good punch of it. The hops are very bright and fresh tasting. This beer might not be for the new craft beer drinker or someone who does not like anything other than the American light lager, but most craft beer people will find this pleasing.

For a fall beer I was hoping for something a bit darker, with some richer notes. Hoptober comes in at 6% ABV in case you were wondering. It has a great aftertaste and just reeks of freshness (as should all seasonal beers). I really enjoyed it, but I have had beer fall beers before. If you like fresh hops and a good malt character, you will totally love this beer. Again it is not as hoppy as the name suggests, but it is super drinkable and enjoyable. My wife, who hates hoppy beers, even enjoyed this seasonal from New Belgium. (more…)