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Beer Review #319 Cultivator Helles Bock

03-17-02Even though there is another snowstorm smacking parts of the Mid-Atlantic today spring is right around the corner. Spring means that it is helles bock season! One of the newest helles bock beers, or simply helles for short, is Cultivator Helles Bock by Troegs Brewing Company.  I was at their brewery in Hershey about a month ago and I had no idea they were going to be releasing a new beer.

Cultivator pours a nice yellow orange and has a thin white head that fades to just a covering. The nose has a slight bit of sulfur along with the typical “lager smell.” It also has a great honey-like sweetness along with a crisp biscuit. I really like the combination of odors going on in this beer. I didn’t get any hops as expected.

On the first taste I did notice the flavor at first, instead I noticed how nicely this beer drank. The flavors are wonderful, but this beer took me back to my trip to Germany. It’s darn authentic and lovely. Past the nostalgia, Cultivator is big everything a helles should be. It starts with a nice light sweetness that is intertwined with biscuit and wonderfulness.  The hops come in an provide a nice bit of balancing but still leave it a bit more on the sweet end of the scale. The hops taste fresh and floral.

I could seriously drink this beer all day. It’s wonderful and makes me want to sit down with some German meatloaf, potatoes, and a fried egg. Yup, it really did take me back to Germany. I will be purchasing more of this beer shortly. (more…)

Beer Review #261 The Gift

01-18-03I have a seasonal beer (gasp!) up for review today. If you remember, I went a full year without purposely seeking out seasonable beers, and I’m ready to stop limiting my choices. I saw The Gift a few weeks ago and picked up a few bottles. The Gift is brewed by Starr Hill Brewery of Crozet, Va. The bottle says that it is a Bock, but their website narrows it down a bit more and calls it a Hellerbock. I honestly have no idea what the difference is.

The Gift pours a nice clear orange color and has a quickly fading, thin white head. The nose is very lager. It has some bready notes followed by some slight sulfur. Other than that, there really isn’t a lot going on in the nose department.

On the first taste I really noticed the malt flavors. It has a nice honey-like sweetness that is mixed with a toasty flavor. The combination is time tested and works wonderfully. There are some hops that come in towards the end but they are not crisp. The hops do not remove the sweetness entirely, but instead just help cut it down a bit to better balance the beer. The sweetness is a bit much for me personally.

I enjoyed this beer. I would like this beer to be a little less The Cranberries and linger a less then it does. It’s a solid example of a Bock and I assume a Hellerbock. I’m kind of a beer nerd if you haven’t noticed (post #584 on this site) but I am not familiar with the Hellerbock style. This beer makes me want to do some more research and I thank Starr Hill for alerting me to something that I didn’t know existed. (more…)

Beer Review #207 Victory Prima Pils

It’s no secret that I dig Victory Brewing Company. In my book they make some of the best beers on the

east coast and I am constantly amazed at the number of different beers they put out each year. They are actually working on adding a second location as the home base in Downingtown, PA can no longer be expanded. When I first started drinking craft beer, today’s beer, Prima Pils, is one of the beers that I immediately gravitated to.

Just as any pilsner should, Prima Pils pours a nice clear golden color with a fluffy white head. The nose has a decent amount of malt and sweetness. There are bits of biscuit in there along with some prevalent honey odors. I also get some nice hop aroma, but not overpoweringly so. These hops sit in the background but promise to show themselves at a more convenient time. If I had to describe the hops in a broad way, I would call them “noble smelling.” One big difference with this pilsner is that there is no lager sulfur smell. I don’t know if the brief wisp of hops mask it or if it is brewed so cleanly that the sulfur doesn’t come. In any case, it’s nice not to have it there.

On the first taste I got a nice sweetness that felt authentic. It reminded me deeply of a German pilsner that I had last summer. The honey flavors come back in along with some nice solid bread. Just as all of the malt flavors are wrapping themselves up, a nice does of hops kick in. Again, these hops are strong compared to a pale ale, but they are assertive for a pilsner. I’m guessing that people who are used to drinking light American lagers will not like this one at first because the hops are bold compared to their former beers. I want to stress that this isn’t a hoppy beer in a bitterness sense, but the hops add a great balancing force.

I fell in love with this beer several years ago and I still love it to this day. While this one is more hoppy than most pilsners, I still find it to strike a nice balance. It is very drinkable and I find myself being a regular consumer of this beer. (more…)

Beer Review #191 Alpine Spring

Whenever I want to buy a case of beer on the cheap I generally turn to a variety pack from Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company). Recently I picked up their new variety pack which had three new beers in it, Alpine Spring being one of them. According to the bottle Alpine Spring is, “a bright citrusy unfiltered lager.” I’m assuming that this is the new Spring Seasonal from Sam Adams as you can also buy single cases of this beer.

Alpine Spring pours a light orange color and has a fluffy white head. The unfiltered part is immediately visible as this beer is hazy. You can see though it around the edges of the glass, but you cannot make out anything in the middle of the beer. The nose is full of citrus odors. They are not as bright as an IPA for instance, but they are very pleasant. I also noticed some slight sulfur mixed in which is very common in lagers.

This beer begins with a nice citrus hop on the front end. Usually you flow from malt to hops, but I got hop right away on this one. After the hops faded out of the picture a lot of really nice bready notes came into the scene. Some slight honey mixed in there as well. All of the flavors mixed well .

This is a very drinkable beer. The citrus addition to a lager is an interesting one. My wife loves this beer but I’m not entirely sold on it. I think it is a good beer, but the citrus lager mix just sit totally right with me. The malt component to this beer is great. I would love to try this beer with a traditional German hop and see if it agrees with me more. (more…)

Beer Review #136 Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Lager Beer

I haven’t reviewed a lager on this is in a long time, like over 3 months long time. Today’s beer review obviously comes from Samuel Smith. The official name of Samuel Smith is Samuel Smith Old Brewery, but I like to just keep it short. Kind of like how we don’t call Sam Adams Boston Beer, we call it Sam Adams or even Sam. I actually really enjoy a quality lager and when I saw this Samuel Smith brew in their unmistakable bottles, I knew that I had to get it.

This lager pours a nice blond color, almost resembling a cheap Light American Lager. It is perfectly clear and has a thin white head. The nose is somewhat underwhelming. There is some sweetness, but not much to separate it from the style of beer previously mentioned. I have to admit that I didn’t have high hopes for this one after the first few sniffs.

Luckily the nose of the beer doesn’t portray everything that a beer is. There is some upfront honey-like sweetness that was light, but well placed. A nice biscuity finish comes in to really add some complexity to the flavor profile. The hops, which could not be found on the nose, were really nice. They were some type of noble hop variety but I couldn’t put my finger on which one.

This is one of those beers that proves that first impressions are not always correct. While it isn’t a crazy or exciting beer, it is solid in every respect. I will stand by my saying that Samuel Smith does not make a bad beer, although I’m scared to try their fruit beers. I really think this is one of those beers that is great for someone new to craft beer. It offers more than a “normal” beer but not too much. (more…)