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08-20-00

DuClaw Hell on Wood Beer Review

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for barrel aged barleywines. I seriously love them. A local brewery that doesn’t get enough praise is DuClaw Brewing Company. They make some wonderful beer and when I saw Hell on Wood, I grabbed a few bottles. The bottle says that it is a barleywine style ale that is aged in bourbon barrels. It also rocks in at 10.6% ABV. A true sipper.

Hell on Wood pours a nice reddish brown color with a slight haze.  The head is light tan and thin, but doesn’t fade quickly. The nose is wonderful and full. It starts with a deep, dark, almost burnt caramel aroma. The caramel is surrounded by some “traditional sweetness” that really rounds out the malt character. A good helping of bourbon, oak, and vanilla follow though. I didn’t much if any hops which is generally how I like my barleywines.

Hell on WoodThe taste generally follows the nose. It begins with some strong caramel notes. Bourbon hits next. It’s a clean and spicy bourbon that cuts through the sweetness of the malt. A really solid, but not overpowering, oak flavor comes in next and really adds a great layer of complexity and depth. There is some heat towards the end of the taste. Surprisingly, it’s a balanced heat if there is such a thing, and it makes for a great flavor note. Hell on Wood finishes with a nice earthy/piney hop flavor that adds a touch of bitterness.

This beer stays a lightly sweet throughout but it’s enjoyable and still close to a perfect balance. It drinks thick and chewy; like I said, a sipper. I rather enjoyed this barleywine. It has a great combination of flavor, complexity, and aromas that make a barleywine an enjoyable drinking experience.

01-27-00

Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

Homebrewing Update

It’s been some time since my last post on this site. At the time of my last post I had just returned from vacation and jumped right back into a promotion at work which has kept me very busy. While I haven’t been posting a ton (like nothing at all in a month and a half) on this site, I’ve been very actively homebrewing. I thought that I would leave some notes below on my activities before getting back to beer reviews later this week.

Whiskey Barrel

My buddy and I split the cost of a whiskey barrel several months ago and we have produced a very nice Rye IPA and Belgian Tripel from it. The Rye IPA has passed its peak freshness in my eyes but the Tripel is firing on all cylinders. I expect that beer to age nicely and be around for some time. Currently to barrel has a Robust Porter in it (recipe coming soon) that hits some nice notes from the first tasting. It’s been in the barrel a little longer than what I would have liked and has become over-oaked as a result. I added some fresh beer to it a few weeks ago and that seems to have rounded it out nicely. I hope to bottle it this weekend. Going into the whiskey barrel will be a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that has been fermenting strong for three weeks now. I don’t know how it is doing it, but there are still bubbles coming out of the airlocks.

Kegs

The kegged portion of the Rye IPA is in one of my kegs and the other one has a Fall Session Ale. It’s a nice beer that comes in at 4% ABV, but has a ton of flavor that makes it drink like a higher percentage beer. I have a keg of the Barrel Aged Tripel waiting to go on tap once the Rye kicks. I need to replace the O-rings on one of my empty kegs along with a new poppet valve.

Fermentation

All of my fermenters are currently full, which is not something that usually happens for me. Three of them are taken up by the Belgian Dark Strong Ale which will be put into the barrel this weekend. Another fermenter has an American Hoppy Wheat Ale in it that is hopped with a generous amount of Citra, but stays at 4.5% or so ABV. My only glass carboy has three gallons of the fresh Robust Porter that didn’t fit into the barrel. I am toying with the idea of fermenting a few gallons of cider and mixing the two before kegging but I have to let that idea rest for a bit. I also just got two new fermenters in the mail today thanks to Northern Brewer’s buy one get on free sale from last week.

Brewing List

I have a number of beers in my mind that I want to brew pretty soon. The first thing that I need to knockout is a Pumpkin Ale. The one that I brewed last year really hit the mark for me and I am only going to be making slight adjustments for this years batch. I also have a Winter Warmer in my mind that needs to be brewed in short order. Finally I have a bunch of NZ hops on hand so I want to make an over the top IPA and Pale Ale, but those may have to hold off a bit as I want to make sure that I can drink them fresh and I don’t have the keg space to put them in right now.

Reviews will be back later this week and I plan on posting more homebrewing articles as well as I have a lot going on right now with it.

08-03-02

Beer Review #305 Nouveau Rouge

08-03-03I know that I just reviewed a Evolution Craft Brewing Company beer but my buddy brought this one down a few weeks ago and I just had to talk about it. I never heard of Nouveau Rouge but my buddy Mike is usually good at finding rare, delicious beer. The bottle has this to say, “almost two years in the making, our sour red ale is an ongoing project that pays tribute to the sour ales of Flanders. Tart and earthy with notes of vanilla and tannin from our oak aging process, this complex ale is layered with unique character.” It comes in at a respectable 6.3%.

The beer pours a brownish red color. There is zero head to this one and it has a haze to it. The nose is sour/tart and edges on being vinegary. There is also a nice dose of oak mixed in. Usually beers that have this type of smell have a complex flavor profile so I was really excited to try this beer.

On the first taste I actually got a slight sweetness on the front end. The sweetness fades into a nice oak flavor that is mixed with some hints of vanilla. The sourness then comes in and stays. On each sip after the first, I was not able to find that initial sweetness. The tart flavor isn’t the strongest that I have ever had, but it mixes nicely with the oak flavors and it provides punches of sourness as you move through the drink. The sourness lingers on the tongue well after you have swallowed. This beer is very lowly carbonated with helps some of the flavors play out different than if it were more highly carbonated.

I really dig this one. It has a nice sourness to it but it is balanced with a malt body. The complexity can be found in the oak/tart interaction and the different levels of tartness you get while drinking the glass. I’m a big fan and I would be happy to stumble upon a bottle of this at any time. (more…)

07-14-02

Beer Review #300 Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale

07-14-02For this site’s 300th beer review, I figured that I should post about a special beer. It also so happens that today’s review covers one of my favorite local breweries, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They make some fantastic beer that is always fresh and hits the spot. Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale is part of their Migration Series of beer, which are seasonal and always barrel aged. My bottle happened to be #795 of 1400 bottles produced. This winter 2012 edition has the following to say on the label, “a dark ale aged eight months in oak bourbon barrels.” It also comes in at 10.5%. This might not be a summer beer style but good is good anytime of the year.

This beer pours a dark black with a tan head that quickly fades. It is too dark to see if it is clear or not, even when tipped and held up to the light. The nose has a light bourbon aroma that provides a bit of heat and warmth. A good helping of roasted malt and dark chocolate are being the bourbon and really provide some great malt notes. I got just a hint of oak, but not as much as I was expecting for a beer aged for eight months.

Roasted malt and dark chocolate come threw first on the first taste. And as a bourbon barrel aged beer should, this beer has kick of bourbon and oak. The bourbon is very mild and really blends well with the malt. The oak smooths out the flavor and helps blend everything together nicely. There is a slight hop bitterness at the end but nothing that is overly complex or strong. This one drinks creamy and thick. A true sipper.

I really dug this one. It is one of the smoothest and most balanced bourbon aged beers that I have ever had. The bourbon isn’t crazy intense on this beer, but adds a good amount of complexity and depth to a already great beer. I really wish there were more than 1400 bottles of this produced and I will be keeping an eye out for when the 2013 version comes out. (more…)