Skip to main content

Beer Review #33 Ommegang Abbey Ale

11-08-02I thought I was out of my Belgian kick that I was on over the summer, but I found another reason to continue. Ommegang Abbey Ale is a Belgian Dubbel from Brewery Ommegang out of Cooperstown, NY. I saw two options of bottling for this beer, a four-pack or a 750 ml corked bottle. I opted to go for the four-pack as it was a better buy and I didn’t have to drink it all at once.

I allowed the beer to warm up at cellar temperatures as it takes on a different feel when it is colder. The cold attempt I made I didn’t get much aroma, but a lot of sourness. Once I allowed it to warm on my next beer, I had a much better tasting beer. It pours a deep ruby color with a thick light brown head. The head on the beer is made entirely of tiny bubble (high carbonation) and a thin layer of head lasted through the entire drink. The Abbey Ale is pretty clear with some haze from the yeast and a few groups of things in suspension, as common with most Belgian beers.

11-08-03The nose was very fruity. I think the smell that stood out the most was a grape to sour grape smell. The yeast was also heavy on the nose with some hints of malt. No hops were detectable. On my first sip I was hit with the malt on the front, followed by a sourness, and then the Belgian yeast bite. There was a grapy aftertaste. As I kept drinking some bitter chocolate notes came though as well. The Belgian yeast had a slightly different twang than a normal Belgian yeast strain, it was much more sour. Most of the time you get a spiciness from Belgian yeast, there was some, but not as pronounced as other Belgian beers I have had.

The mouthfeel was medium and the high carbonation was wonderful. I really enjoyed drinking this beer. It is a perfect beer to drink slowly during a long period of time. As the beer warms to room temperature a host of new notes come out and make it more and more interesting. Ommegang Abbey Ale comes in a 8.5% which is on the higher end of ABV for Belgain Dubbels.

There were a few interesting notes on the back of the bottle as well. It says, “Part of the Duvel family of fine ales.” Brewery Ommegang was named after Belgium’s oldest medieval festival. This beer is also cellared at the brewery. If you like Belgian beers give this one a try, you will not be disappointed. It is wonderfully flavorful and complex. It really was a treat of a beer to drink. (more…)

Beer Review #32 Punkin Ale

11-05-02As I said before, seasonal beers in Lubbock are extremely hard to come by, but Dogfish Head did not disappoint as there is plenty of Punkin Ale to go around. Punkin Ale has become one of my favorite seasonal beers that I really never tire of. As normal for Dogfish the label explains exactly what you should expect from the beer. Punkin Ale’s label reads, “[a] full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.”

Those spices are pretty common in pumpkin beers but the use of real pumpkin is somewhat unusual as is the use of brown sugar. The beer pours a golden amber, almost orange with a nice off-white head. The head is composed of a mix of tiny bubbles and medium bubbles. Punkin Ale is also crystal clear.

The nose of the beer is mostly spice with some pumpkin undertones. The nutmeg and cinnamon really stand out. There is some malt toastyness and no hint of hops at all. This is one of the only pumpkin beers I’ve ever had that actually has some actual pumpkin smell on the nose. After taking my first sip I was amazed at how well balanced the beer was.

11-05-05

11-05-04There is real pumpkin flavor, some spices, and malt. The spices probably stand out the most, but all of the flavors mesh so well together. Refreshing is a word that comes to mind because nothing pushes out another. Most seasonal beers seem to have one ingredient or flavor that overtakes the beer. Not so with Punkin Ale.

There is a medium body to the beer and it has good carbonation to it. Overall it is very drinkable and enjoyable. This is by far the best pumpkin based beer that I have had to date. Punkin Ale comes in at 7% ABV which is pretty much on par with most of Dogfish Head’s other offerings. If you like pumpkin beers this is the granddaddy of them all (in my book anyway). Just a wonderfully balanced, drinkable beer that captures pumpkin flavor. (more…)

09-28-04

Sam Adams Boston Ale Beer Review

09-28-04Sam Adams is one of the first craft brewers to really make a big success out of well made beers. Heck they are so successful that they even run TV ads, something that most, if not all other, craft brewers stay away from or don’t have the money to spend on. Sam does make some great brews with their largest success being the Boston Lager.

When I saw the Boston Ale in the six pack store last week I was a bit surprised, but I figured I would give it a shot and see how it was. It is part of their Brewmaster’s Collection and I have had good and not so good samples of that “line” of their beers. Anyway, the beer pours a light amber and appears to be slightly darker than the Boston Lager. By now you guessed that there are going to be a lot of comparisons to the Boston Lager right now and you would be correct in guessing that. There is a slightly off white head with large and small bubbles. The beer is perfectly clear.

09-28-02The smell on the nose is a bit more complex than what I was expecting. There is the malty sweetness, a bit of a rye smell (no idea where that came from), and some biscuit. I didn’t really pick up any hops or esters in it. I would expect some slight esters becasue of the ale yeast verses the lager yeast. Both can be done with or without esters however.

On my first taste I felt that the beer floated on the tongue and then crashed on the back of my pallet. There is some biscuit taste with some toasty flavors in there as well. The malt sweetness is mostly caramel and there is a bit of hop bitterness on the back. The malt and hop balance it tilted towards the malt side, but in a good way.

Boston Ale is a fully bodied beer that is extremely drinkable. I find that a lot of Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company) beers represent a style of beer that might to toned down just a bit, but are very drinkable and a decent example of the style they represent. For a newcomer to craft beer, their beers might open a door to a new style that they have not tried before. Boston Ale was just wonderful. I’ve actually gone back out and purchased two more six packs becasue I (and the wife) enjoy it so much. One of our later six packs must of been a bit older becasue it was a bit duller in taste and had some metallic undertones. I still really enjoyed to fresh version of this beer and I think most people would also enjoy it. (more…)

Me a beer judge!?!

I had my first chance to do a beer judging last weekend and boy was that a trip. My local homebrew club sponsor a competition every year for the past 11 years now. I believe the entries were limited to IPAs and Pale Ales this year becasue our club is just not big enough to have hundreds of beers to sample. In fact one year they had over 300 entries, with five people judging, which prompted the limiting of categories.

My tasting table was in charge of the IPA style number 14 A-C. Being my first judging I was a little nervous about making sure I did a good job and that my taste buds agreed with the style guidelines. It is amazing to see what people submit to the contest. We had one guy who sent in three bottles that said save for final round on them. Some balls.

09-22-01
Picture not from our judging, just there to give an example

I used to be a much bigger fan of IPAs than what I current am. I am just hopped out, but I do have a good background in IPAs because I used to drink them like crazy. My table was made up of 3 people, one of which was extremely skilled in brewing and judging. Surprisingly all three of us came out around the same scores consistently. It is funny how you can pick out the things that take a beer down a few points. Half of the beers I tasted I would of been happy with if I brewed them, but according to the style guidelines they didn’t quite fit.

Being judge is easier than being a brewer. So is running a beer review website. A few things I noticed with almost all of the IPAs we tried. The first was that people often gave too much malt backbone, particularly in 14C the Imperial IPA. The malt should support the hops, but no be equal. The second thing I noticed is how tough it is to properly hop a IPA. Most of them were very harsh and just smashed down on your tongue and left a lingering harsh flavor. Some people like this, I do not, and neither do the style guidelines. The final thing is that you can see the knowledge of the brewer when tasting. We had one contaminated beer so it couldn’t be fairly judged but the differences in the beer came down to slight variations that had huge impacts.

It might be unfair to judge the brewer on the beer they make as I’ve made plenty of great and terrible beers. It just seems like a beer that is more technically correct shows a better skill level by the brewer than his competitors. That skill might not translate into a winning beer but, as a homebrewer, I appreciate it.

09-15-02

Real Ale Brewing Company Full Moon Pale Rye Ale Beer Review

09-15-02I bought a sampler six pack from Real Ale Brewing Company 2 weeks ago and I’ve slowly been getting through their three offerings. On a side note, I love the idea of a sampler six pack and I wish more breweries would do something similar. Back to the beer at hand, Real Ale Brewing Company is based out of Blanco, Texas which is almost in between San Antonio and Austin. The company was started out of a basement brewery in 1996 and has since moved up to a 60 barrel brewery. There isn’t much on their website but they seem very community oriented and are willing to give away some free beer for a non-profit community event.

I am always more out to buy something from  a company that is willing to support its local community, but I digress. Full Moon Pale Rye Ale pours a nice golden amber in color and is perfectly clear. It is slightly darker than the typical pale ale but I believe that comes from the rye malt added in. It also has a nice fluffy head that, while it diminishes a bit, stays through the entire drink.  The smell of the beer is all hops with some malt sweetness but I did not detect the rye malt in there.

It taste like a typical pale ale with a slight rye flavor. You notice the rye more on the aftertaste. There is a great balance of hops to malt. I’ve seen a few reviews where people complained about too much hops but I did not find that, I thought the balance was pretty good. If they wanted the rye to stand out a bit more there should of been some less hops, but I enjoyed it on the aftertaste.

09-15-05

The mouthfeel was light and pretty thin. This was not a chewy beer. I’m not the biggest fan of pale ales (gasp!) but I enjoyed this one. The rye adds a bit of flavor that was different and nice. Now I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent. I don’t understand why rye and hops are being paired together some much right now. Michelob just released their Rye P.A. and I’ve seen a few other beers featuring hops and rye showing up on the shelves. The rye flavor is so delicate that the addition of too many hops blows it out of the water. I really enjoy a nice rye beer, just one that is not over hopped for the malt to carry through. I guess the brewers are trying to get a different malt character out of the beer but I prefer to have the rye shine a little bit more. Anyway this is a Texas beer and it doesn’t look like they distribute much further than Texas. It was enjoyable and something a bit different. If you are a pale ale fan try it out and see if you like the rye flavor on top of the typical pale ale. (more…)