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Beer Review #322 Snapshot

03-27-02New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the breweries that I can always count on to have something new on the shelves every time I go to the store. On a recent trip I picked up a few bottles of their new wheat beer titled Snapshot. It comes in at 5% and the bottle reads, “Snap! You just captured an unfiltered wheat beer full of refreshment and a smile-inducing flash of tart at the finish.” Interesting.

The beer pours a beautiful golden yellow with a thick white head. As this is an unfiltered wheat beer, it’s pretty hazy, but not as hazy as a wheat beer with yeast in it (think ¬†Hefeweizen). It has a nice light sweetness to the nose along with your traditional wheat aroma. There is a light lemon citrus smell mixed in there as well. I didn’t get any Belgian yeast odors like clove or pepper. (more…)


Make your own Belgian Candi Sugar

I’m a big fan of drinking and brewing Belgian beers. Many Belgian beers require the addition of Belgian Candi Sugar. Brewers use the sugar for many reasons as it will help boost the ABV, increase fermentability, and thin the mouthfeel of the beer. As a homebrewer, I’m always looking for ways to save a buck and Belgian Candi Sugar is one of those ingredients that is super expensive. Luckily, you can easily make your own sugar without much effort. I’ve done this several times and I’ve been very happy with the results. In the steps below I will explain the process of making Belgian Candi Sugar and hopefully show you how easy it is.

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

You will need the following items in order to create your own Belgian Candi Sugar:

  • Table sugar (I use five pound bags of sugar)
  • Water (I use 2.5 cups of water)
  • Food grade acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar are my go to’s)
  • Boiling pot
  • An accurate thermometer that can sit in boiling mixtures for extended times (candy, fryer, or digital thermometer with a long probe will work fine)
  • Tin foil
  • Tray



Beer Review #301 Imperial French Style Ale

07-16-02I’m always on the lookout for new beers and beer styles to sample and try. When I came across the Lavery Brewing Company’s Imperial French Style Ale, I just had to purchase it. It comes from Erie, PA and Lavery has a bit of a history of making some different styles of beer that you normally don’t find. I’m also a bit partial being from Pennsylvania.

Lavery’s Imperial French Style Ale pours a hazy straw color. This beer comes packed with carbonation which results in a thick white head. This nose has a slight hop around that was nondescript. A wet hay aroma cane be found along with some Belgian-like spice. A grassy note can also be found. It has a Belgian IPAness to it.

On the first taste I was really struck by how bright the hops were. The nose didn’t really let on that bright hops were to be found in this beer, but upon tasting, there they were. The hops are packed with citrus and have notes on lemon. There is a slight Belgian yeast note that comes out the more the beer warms. There is also a slight sourness mixed into the flavor that I rather enjoyed. All tolled, the malt wasn’t very powerful, but the hops and yeast notes make this an interesting tasting beer.

In my notes I wrote, “a very nice, confused beer.” It’s like a Belgian IPA with a funkier yeast than what you normally find. The hops are on par with other beers in the style by the yeast is more unique than others that I have tried. If you like IPAs, and more specifically Belgian IPAs, this will be an enjoyable, drinkable beer for you. I’m excited to try more of their stuff in the future. (more…)

Beer Review #234 Big Wave Golden Ale

This is my fifth beer review of Kona Brewing Company. For the most part I have had good experiences with one notable exception. This is the first new beer that I have seen from them in some time (I really want to forget that brown ale) so I grabbed a bottle or two when I was at the beer store. One thing I do want to say about Kona before I get to the beer review is that I love their style. Their bottles feel like Hawaii. As someone who digs bottle art and marketing in general, I appreciate what they can capture on a small bottle.

As expected of a beer name Big Wave Golden Ale this beer pours a clear golden color with a solid white head. The first thing that struck me about the nose was the citrus aroma with a slight hop twinge. Usually citrus hops scream out, but this one had a strong smell of citrus without the hop craziness. A nice malt sweetness and bread mix into the citrus to really make this a round nosed beer.

On the first taste citrus makes a reappearance with a nice light lemon flavor mixed in. A light hop flavor carries all of the way through the beer. It is by no means strong but it does present itself from front to back. There isn’t a lot of hop flavor even as the beer warms. I think the light hop flavor knocked out any malt flavors that existed.

This was a lighter beer that I found very refreshing. The citrus hops very crisp at the end of the drink and really cleaned everything up well. I think this beer makes up for my past experience with Kona. (more…)

Beer Review #226 Porch Rocker

It seems like no matter when I go to the beer store, Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company), has a new beer on the shelves. I generally find myself picking up their new beers as they are usually pretty solid examples of a style. I like to call the Sam Adams beers, starter beers because they are good examples of a style, but they are generally not full on choosing higher mass appeal over full authenticity. I don’t fault them for this at all, in fact I applaud it. They are one of the few breweries that has beers available nation wide and still hold true to craft beer values.

When I saw Porch Rocker I grabbed it immediately. I love a good name, and Porch Rocker is a fantastic name for a summertime craft beer. Porch Rocker pours a brilliant clear golden color and has a full white head that quickly dissolves back into the beer. The nose is packed with lemon. I have only smelled one beer that has ever had as much lemon as this beer and that beer was undrinkable to my likings. There is a slight malt note in there was well but the lemon dominates. I generally do not read descriptions of beers I buy before I drink them as I don’t want to skew my view, but after smelling this one I look a quick look at the label. The first thing I noticed was that it is a “beer with natural flavors added.” I bet 1,000 to 1 that the natural flavor added to this beer is lemon. Upon investigation of the neck label I found that this beer was inspired by Radlers, a traditional German drink that mixes beer and soda/lemonade. I had a traditional version of this when I was in Germany last summer, but I don’t recall it smelling as strongly of lemon as this beer did.

The taste is as expected, lemon. It’s not lemonade lemon, but¬† a beer lemon, by that I mean that it is a bready lemon thanks to the malt. There are no real hops to speak of or other flavors for that matter.

This really wasn’t my style of beer. It reminds me of a toned down version of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, which is the previously mentioned undrinkable lemon beer (in my eyes). There just isn’t enough brought to the table with this beer, it just tastes like carbonated lemon. I think I’ll skip this one if it is offered next year. (more…)