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Beer Review #48 Noble Pils

Ever since I have been drinking craft beer, Sam Adams has been in my drink lineup. They released a new spring seasonal this year taking the place of the White Ale of last year. For this spring Sam decided to go with a Pilsner, a “nobel pilsner.” The reason they call it a Nobel Pils is becasue the hop varieties used in the making of this beer are said to be noble. You know how the periodic table of elements has the noble gasses, well hops also have a noble lineage.

The beer pours a nice golden in color and is perfectly clear. There is a bit more of a hue in it than a typical Light American Lager, but there isn’t a huge difference in how the two look. It also pours with a nice white fluffy head. The nose on this beer is actually somewhat complex for how simple a Pilsner really is. There is a sweet, honey-like malt with a splash of hop in there as well. It isn’t stale or sulfery smelling like a light of light colored lagers tend to have.

On the tongue the sweet malt is on the front and then there is a good hoppy finish. Some might compare this beer to a Light American Lager based on looks, but the malt is more complex and there is actually a hop finish. The hop finish might surprise some, but it is not overpowering and really complements the drink. Noble Pils is light in mouthfeel and has the perfect amount of carbonation.

I find this beer super drinkable. It is great for a warm spring day or on a hot summer day. I think this beer would appeal to a lot of beer drinkers crossing into the craft beer for the first time. As I have said before on this site, Pilsner is not a style of beer that I enjoy, but Sam Adams Noble Pils was a winner in my book. (more…)

Beer Review #46 Winterhook Winter Ale

I got my hands on a winter beer that I have never seen before the other day. That beer was Winterhook Winter Ale by Redhook Ale Brewery out of Woodinville, Washington. My main surprise with finding this beer is that there were spring seasonals (reviews to come) sitting next to it. I’ve had a few other Redhook beers before, but I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this one since my winter beer experience has been so varied.

The ale pours a dark brown color with some ruby-like highlights when held in the light. It is clear and has a thin tan head. The nose on the beers is malty and slightly fruity. Caramel is the strongest of the malt odors coming from the glass. There is a bit of spice on it, but I really couldn’t pick up exactly what it was. There is also some slight hops on the nose, but not overwhelmingly so.

Winterhook has a good malt body and a nice hop bite on the end. There is a slight Belgian like yeast or spice flavor in there as well. It was much cleaner and more hidden than a normal Belgian, but there was a bit of a kick from it to be found in the beer. The hop gets more and more pronounced the more you get into the drink as well. The ale has a medium mouthfeel and, as I said before, and really nice body.

Winterhook is a super drinkable winter ale. It isn’t really high on the ABV rankings coming in at 5.9% but it has a great balance of everything. It is a nice winter ale that I think a lot of people would really enjoy. There are a lot of flavors going on and it takes a bit of time to break them all down. The beer also had great lacing if that is important to you. Overall I enjoyed this beer but it wasn’t my favorite winter ale of the season. (more…)

Beer Review #45 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

While I am stuck in Texas my family back home is getting hit with another snow storm, not as bad as last week’s storm though. This one is only going to be dropping a foot and a half on them. When I think of winter or snow, there is only one drink that will help balance out all of that white. That drink is a stout. Nice, dark, rich, creamy, silky, and roasty are all words that come to mind when I think of a stout.

I recently had the pleasure of have a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout again. I first had it a year or so ago and loved it. I finally got the chance to have it again and I did not pass up on the opportunity. It pours a deep black with a brownish/tan head. It is actually clear if you tilt the glass a bit to get a thin cross section of the beer. On the nose there are a lot of roasty aromas. It has a slightly bitter/sour smell like that of unsweetened coco.

The first sip is fully of roasty flavors. It is super malty and has a sweetness, mostly do to the oatmeal grain that it is brewed with. I got a lot of bakers chocolate in there as well along with hints of campfire. That might sound odd, but it is wonderful. The mouthfeel is silky but also thick. It goes down very easy.

Overall I think this is a great stout. It is very drinkable and I could easily put away a few of these things. Some might find it filling, but I don’t have a problem with it. When I think of an oatmeal stout, Samuel Smith’s is what a reference everything to. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a solid stout. (more…)

Beer Review #40 2 Below Ale

Yet another New Belgium seasonal beer. I can’t help it, I generally like everything that comes out of that brewery. I was also super excited to find a seasonal brew in Lubbock, Tx. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you should know my struggles with finding seasonal beer in Lubbock. And for those of you who are new, Lubbock, simply put, is a hole. There is a complete lack of beer culture, but oddly enough they enjoy expensive wine. Go figure.

Anyway, I grabbed up a sixer of 2 Below as soon as I saw it. As most New Belgium Brewing Company beers have, the label was interesting looking. A nice picture of some freezing pipes with icicles coming down off of the top. Now onto the important part, the beer. It pours a light amber in color with a nice white head. The aroma is nice and strong with tons of floral hops. There isn’t much else to be found on the smell, mostly just hops and maybe some malt if you are really looking hard.

The taste is an explosion of hops, in a good way. The malt and the hops are balanced perfectly. The hops are clean and crisp. On the back-end of the beer there is a slightly bready flavor. You can also expect to finds hints of pepper and other spice in there as well. Unlike some hoppy beers, the hops goes through the entire beer and not just at the back.

2 Below has a light to medium mouthfeel with great carbonation. It is very drinkable but I kind of wanted something darker and richer tasting for a winter beer. The beer comes in at 6.6% ABV so it is not a “weak” beer but I want some more alcohol in my winter beer. The whole warming idea of a winter beer doesn’t really happen at 6.6%. It really is a great beer and I would highly suggest it if you have the chance. Again it is not my favorite winter beer, but it is a solid beer for anytime of the year. (more…)

Beer Review #37 Mad Elf

While I may not be in PA anymore, that didn’t stop me from enjoying on of my favorite seasonal beers, Mad Elf. Made Elf is made by Tröegs Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. They only make it for two months of the year and it can even be tough to find when it is in production. Mad Elf is classified as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale and it is brewed with honey and cherries. It also rocks in at 11%, so that wonderful warming feeling is sure to help on a cold winter night. And if you noticed, or care, winter officially beings today, so our winter seasonals will be coming in on the site.

The beer pours a nice clear ruby color, with a thin head that fades pretty quickly. The head is fully white, with no off colors and is made of mostly tiny bubbles, with a few medium ones mixed in. The nose of the beer is decidedly Belgian. It smells a lot like a Tripel, with everything you would expect out of a Belgian Ale yeast. I did not pick up much of the honey notes from the nose, but the cherry component comes through very nicely. There is some malt in there is well, but minimal hops.

The taste is complex and rich. The Belgian yeast flavors are in there, and so are the cherries. The cherries are not as strong as the nose might suggest. The honey comes through a bit more in the taste. I can really only describe the flavor as rich and creamy. It finishes dry with a wonderful aftertaste. The esters from the yeast and a bit of the hop leave the pallet pleased. As the beer warms it gives way to some heat (alcohol), though you would never suspect that this beer is coming in at 11%.

Mad Elf is carbonated nicely and has a nice and full mouthfeel. I really enjoy this beer and it reminds me of home. I know last year at this time I enjoy more than my fair share of it to the point that the guy at the beer store would have me ready to check out before I even picked out my beer. Rarely do I do a repeat case of beer, but with seasonal beers I take a “get as much as I can” approach. I know some people will by two cases a year; one to drink and one to let sit for a year.

I have never had this beer when it was aged, but in general I am not a fan of aging beers. I feel like you get a fresher flavor and more accurate taste the newer a beer is. The one exception is when there are a lot of hot notes, as they tend to fade with age. Getting back on track, Mad Elf is a nice winter seasonal that will warm you. The 11% sneaks up on you and can throw you for a loop if you are not careful. But if you enjoy a Belgian beer with a more complex grouping of flavors, enjoy. It is going to be more sweet than a normal Belgian and also not as spicy, but a great balance overall. (more…)