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Beer Review #62 Drop Top Amber Ale

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company was one of the few Portland, OR breweries that my wife and I did not visit or taste on our honeymoon. I’m not sure why exactly we missed it, but we did. Perhaps it was because the town offers more breweries than one can visit in four days, but who knows. Anyway it is a brewery that is talked about a fair amount and when I saw one of their offerings in the store I decided to take a shot.

Drop Top Amber Ale pours an orange amber color and is perfectly clear. The color should not be to much of a surprise for a beer that has “Amber Ale” in it’s name. It also pours with a slight, off-white head. The nose on the beer is malty, fruity, and has a slight hop odor at the end. There are also hints of grape and orange in there as well. Not a super complex nose, but interesting.

The taste is malty upfront. Then some orange and fruity flavors follow. There isn’t much hop there, but the helps dry the finish out and adds a bit of crispness to it. Citrus also makes a delicate appearance in there. There is a strange malty aftertaste in the beer. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was an odd flavor to have in a beer. Maybe it was the fruit flavors rolling off the tongue but I didn’t really dig it to much.

Overall I think the beer is drinkable. It is not a normal amber ale. The malt and lack of hops is there, but it is much more fruity than what you would normally expect from the style. It comes in at 5.0% ABV so it is very sessionalable and great for summer. If you like fruit beers this one is not going to blow you away with fruit and if you like amber ales this one is going to throw another flavor combination at you, but it is a drinkable beer for most craft beer drinkers. Give it a try, it might not blow your mind but it is a good stepping stone beer if you are just getting into the hobby. (more…)

Beer Review #56 Tire Bite Golden Ale

We start off Flying Dog Brewery week with Tire Bite Golden Ale. This beer comes in at 5.0% ABV and supports 16.5 IBUs.  The beer pours a golden color (shocking I know) and is perfectly clear. There is a fluffy white head to go along with it as well. On the nose this is a bit of malt, with biscuit and bread in there as well. There is also a slight hop nose, but nothing overwhelming.

The flavor is bready with a light malt sweetness. The beer is very crisp. The only thing that I found odd was that it finishes a bit sour, with some lemon flavors in there. Overall it was nice and light, just had a few strange flavors that I was not expecting.  The beer is light, but well bodied. I would say this is a solid summer beer. Light and refreshing but refreshing.

If you look around the beer review sites this beer has a very low rating. I don’t know if they changed the recipe or anything like that recently, but I don’t think it deserves the low ratings at all. Sure it isn’t something that is super unique or fully flavorful, but it is not supposed to be. It is a simple refreshing beer that fits in perfectly with warm weather. If you are looking for something light and refreshing and still has flavor this beer might be for you. (more…)

Beer Review #55 Full Sail Pale Ale

When my wife and I look our honeymoon to Portland, Oregon we had our first taste of Full Sail beers. Since living in Texas, I have gotten to taste them more regularly since they distribute here. Full Sail Brewing Company is based out of Hood River, Oregon and is completely employee-owned by 47 employees. Full Sail Amber is one of my favorite amber beers, in fact I think it may be the most classic example of an American Amber Ale out there. These guys don’t mess around when it comes to making quality beer.

Full Sail Pale Ale pours a bright amber color with a nice white head that lasts all the way through. As you expect from a pale ale it is perfectly clear. The nose has some nice hoppy aromas with bits of sweetness from the malt and also a few bready smells as well. Very clean and nice to say the least.

On the taste of the beer you will get the malt sweetness up front, with come bread/caramel, then followed by the hops. The hops are very crisp and leave easily and without any fuss. Some of the bread flavors hang around long after the hops are gone, which I really enjoyed. Unlike some Pale Ales that try to be something special, this one seems to take a straightforward approach and succeeds very well. The whole KISS principle worked very nicely here. The balance was perfect and the taste is everything a pale ale should be. Unlike an IPA where the hops leads the way (but should still be balanced) a pale ale can be slightly hop forward or slightly malt forward. This one leads a bit towards the hop end, but the balance is right there.

This brew is medium bodied and is slightly creamy. In terms of drinkability it is spot on. A wonderfully drinkable beer great for any time of the year. As I said before nothing on this beer jumps out at you and says this is something “wild and crazy” but it is a great example of a wonderfully brewed pale ale. I highly recommend it, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #53 Brooklyn Local 1

My little hiatus from posting has not stopped my love of Belgian beers in the slightest. Today’s Belgian beer comes all the way from Brooklyn, NY, home of the Brooklyn Brewery. Don’t you love it when the brewery’s name and location match? Anyway I don’t think that it any secret that I love most of the beers that I have ever had from the Brooklyn Brewery. On this site I have only reviewed their Pennant Ale ’55, but I have enjoyed a great number of their beers that we hastily drank before the appearance of this blog. I have also read their book, which is also wonderful if you were wondering.

Brooklyn Local 1 comes in as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, which essentially means it is a Belgian beer that has a high ABV and hops that are stronger than you would expect on a normal Belgian beer. It pours a straw color and is 100% cloudy. Lots of sediment to be found and a delicious fluffy white head to go along with it. This beer looks the part of a wonderful Belgian. On the nose the Belgian yeast stands out, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. There is a slight sweetness that is on there as well which I found refreshing.

On the tongue I first noticed the Belgian yeast and the spicy flavors that go along with it. As I dug more into the beer I noticed the malt more and more. It was very sweet. Perhaps that comes from the German malts that are used in making the beer instead of the typical Belgian malts. The hops also come from Germany. Local 1 is a very clean beer. The hops, Belgian yeast, and the malts balance each other out nicely and the hops really help clean your tongue from any left over flavors. The aftertaste was also a nice mix of lemon, grassy flavors, a slight hop bite, Belgian yeast, and some warming alcohol.

For a beer that comes in at 9.0% ABV this beer really did not feature much in the way of heat. It was very hidden and only noticeable on the aftertaste and a bit when the beer really warmed up. The body was in the medium range but it was highly carbonated, so it was tough to get a really sampling of what it would of been like had it had normal carbonation. The beer is something that I think any Belgian beer lover would love. It is clean but features everything a Belgian beer should. Perhaps the most surprising part is how well the ABV is hidden. If you are not careful this beer could easily sneak up on you. It also comes in a caged and corked bottle which added to the “must buy” factor for me.

The Brooklyn Brewery also makes Local 2 which I have had in the past and really enjoyed. It is another Belgian style beer, but much darker and much more bold. If you see anything with Brooklyn Local 1 or 2, get it and I don’t think that you would be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #49 Hobgoblin

For some reason I have been in an English beer kick for the past few weeks. Maybe it is because I have been watching a lot of Band of Brothers on HBO recently, but I am really digging the English style ales right now. Unfortunately Lubbock does not offer much in the way of English style ales, however I did find the subject of today’s review, Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery. The Wychwood Brewery is located in Oxfordshire, England and they make about two dozen or so different beers since I last checked.

Hobgoblin pours a dark brown to ruby color and has a thin off-white head that quickly fades into the beer. It is perfectly clear and the head that started with the pour comes in medium sized bubbles. Just like most English ales the malt is showcased on the nose. Toffy and caramel are a few of the highlights, followed by the malt itself. There is also a slight hop smell in there as well.

After tasting the beer, Hobgoblin was exactly what I wanted. Biscuit, malt, nut, and a slight hop bit were all there to be found on the tongue. Sadly my bottle also had a few skunk flavors in there as well, but there did not overpower the beer like some skunk can. I am going to blame Lubbock on the skunk and not the beer itself. There was also some dried fruit in there, mainly grape. The mouthfeel was very thin and the beer was lowly carbonated.

Hobgoblin is very easy to drink and exceptionally dry. When people who have not tried a lot of beers see a “darker” beer the immediately assume that it is thick and high in ABV. This beer is a great example of how assuming things makes an ass of of… well you know the rest of it. It comes in at 5.2% ABV and is almost watery. I found it very easy drinking and a sure thing for anyone who appreciates English ales.

Hobgoblin comes in 500 ml bottles that have a unique design to them. I don’t know about you, but an interesting shaped bottle and almost make be buy a beer without loving the style. Luckily this beer did both for me. If you have a chance to pick it up, I suggest grabbing a bottle or six pack (they sell those too) as you will not be disappointed. And make sure that you are getting it from a place that replaces it’s stock regularly, skunked beer is no good.  (more…)