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03-10-00

Beer Review #317 Double Chocolate Milk Stout

03-10-03Over two years ago now I reviewed Lancaster Brewing Company’s Milk Stout. It’s one of the best milk stout’s that I’ve come across next to Left Hand’s version, which I shockingly haven’t reviewed yet. I was at the beer store today minding my own business when the image of a cow being covered in chocolate assaulted my eyes. The words under the aforementioned cow read “Double Chocolate Milk Stout.” Naturally, I bought it.

The bottle says that this is a stout brewed with cacao nibs. It comes in at 6.8% so for a double, this isn’t on the crazy scale alcohol wise. This stout pours a pitch black with a thin tan head. I have no idea if it is clear or not as it is a dark beer. The nose is solidly chocolate with a slight malt sweetness. There are no hops or heat to be found on this one. It honestly smells like a chocolate milkshake.

On the first taste I got all chocolate. It’s not milk chocolate, chocolate, but rather dark chocolate, chocolate. It’s a mix of bitter, roasty, and odd sweetness. I say odd sweetness because you don’t expect to get a sweet flavor on something that comes off as bitter as this one. The bitterness sits on the tongue and lingers for a long time after the drink has left. I tastes like you just drank a 60% cacao chocolate bar. It’s impressive, if you like dark chocolate.

For a milk stout this one isn’t overly sweet or thick. It stays medium in mouthfeel and drinks easily. Lancaster Brewing Company really doubled down on the chocolate (dark not milk) and hit a homerun in my book. I really dig dark chocolate. The bitterness and sweetness balance nicely, but, as with most dark chocolates, the bitterness wins in the end leaving you wanting more. Well done. (more…)

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 Review #181 Lancaster Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale

Lancaster Brewing Company was one of the first breweries that got me into craft beer. In fact, many of the early review on this site come from Lancaster Brewing Company (2 of the first 9). It has been some time since I’ve actually had one of their beers. They didn’t distribute to Texas and in Delaware, they are available, but it’s nothing new, so I generally skip over them. One beer that I wouldn’t skip over is their milk stout, but I can’t find it in Delaware. If anyone has an in with the good people at LBC, tell them to fix that asap. Lancaster’s Winter Warmer was a favorite of mine in college. The bar down the street had it on tap every winter and my friends and I would visit after night classes. Needless to say some fun times were had, in part, thanks to this beer.

This Winter Warmer pours a nice brown color with some hints of ruby. A tan head accompanies the darker beer below. The nose is filled with dried fruits and chocolate. I didn’t get an hops or much in the way of malt (other than the previously mentioned chocolate) but I did get a slight bit of heat.

While the nose isn’t super impressive or complex, the flavor gives up more than the nose. On my first taste I was met with a wall of toffee followed closely by some coco. I slight bit of roasted malt flavors come in, but they are very light and really add a background flavor. The dried fruit comes in to finish up the whole thing. There is also some heat in there, a little more than what the nose let on.

Lancaster Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale has a lot going on with it. As it warms the flavors really start coming out and mixing in a joyous fashion. I highly suggest that you let this one warm up as it only reveals half of itself when it is cold (insert dirty joke). The heat that is in the flavor is noticeable, but I didn’t find that it took away from the beer. It provides a nice warming feeling on the way down which allows the beer to complete it’s namesake. If this beer is an option for you, try it out, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised by it, especially on a cold night. (more…)

Beer Review #72 Lancaster Brewing Company Oktoberfest

Our second Oktoberfest comes all the way from Lancaster, PA (only an hour’s drive from where I currently live). I went to college out near Lancaster, and I gained a love of Lancaster Brewing Company. Almost two years ago I visited their location in Lancaster. I believe their bottled beers are actually brewed by the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I’ve had their Oktoberfest a few too many times, and three years ago, something was just off with it. I haven’t tried it since, but when I saw it at the store this year, I decided to grab it.

It pours a nice amber color with a thin off-white head that quickly fades. It is clear, as expected. The nose is malty, with some sweetness, but it is not as sweet as Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest. There are some notable bread aromas in there as well. On the first taste I really noticed how dry it was. There is a sweetness upfront, but the dryness kicks in and cuts it off. The toasty and bready notes do follow through-out the beer. There is a slightly sulfury aftertaste, but it wasn’t terrible. There is also a bit of heat to comes in at the end as the beer is drying out.

It is a decent Oktoberfest, but not my favorite. There is just something about the beer that doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it was the sulfur and dry combination, but it didn’t compare to other Oktoberfest beers that I’ve had. It does kick up the ABV compared to some other beers as well and comes in at a lovely 6.5%. Try it if you see it, but know that there are betters out there. (more…)

Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my¬† understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.