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Beer Review #183 Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale

Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia, PA has been producing a special series of beers called “Ales of the Revolution” for some time now. Not too long ago I reviewed one of the other beers in the series, George Washington Tavern Porter. Aside from our founding fathers having an apparent fondness for taverns, this Yards series of beers have been very rewarding. Today’s beer was “crafted following Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe.” I’m a slight history nerd and I really dig American history stuff. It might be because it is short, but action packed, or because I just prefer our history to a never-ending list of Kings and Queens, regardless,  when I see historically based beers, I tend to pay attention.

Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale pours a nice clear orange color with a thin bit of off-white head. The nose is fully of biscuit malt along with a lot of rustic grainy odors. There are some dried fruits in there from the yeast esters as well. The nose alone on this beer gave me the feeling of something older. It had a rough elegance to it. The malts come in, hit with some earthy qualities and then part with some esters.

Upon the first taste I got a bit of malt upfront, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Piney hops then kick in a bit stronger than I expected and clear the malt from the tongue. The beer finishes up pretty dry with hints of dried fruits accompanying the departing beer. There is a lot of subtle flavors going on in this beer that I very much enjoyed. This one comes in at 8%, but you wouldn’t know it by the flavor.

I really liked this one. As a semi-history nerd and a “red blooded American” I really appreciated this beer. One thing that I forgot to mention above was that some of the ingredients of their beer were grown on Thomas Jefferson’s Virgina estate. Cool. Try this one out if you have the chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed, especially if you have a taste for English ales. (more…)

Beer Review #169 Hoptical Illusion

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am a marketers dream. Give me some catchy and I’m bound to try it out at some point. When I saw Hoptical Illusion from Blue Point Brewing Company of Patchogue, New York, I had to get it. Seriously, how can you not buy a beer named Hoptical Illusion. Damn you marketing.

This IPA pours a nice golden orange color and it is perfectly clear. A white head accompanies the beer. The nose has slight bits of citrus hops along with a very slight hint of malt. There really isn’t a lot else to be found in nose. I looked for more and even let the beer warm, but no other odors ever made an appearance.

A decent malt backbone started off my first taste. The hops quickly kick in and contribute some grapefruit and pine flavors. The hops are pretty strong and really do “kick.” However, the hops are not crisp and just sit on your taste buds for a long time. I generally like my hops to be in and out and only leave a light aftertaste. These hops hang around a bit too long for my liking.

This IPA comes in at 6.8%, which fits nicely into the style guidelines. This is a pretty solid IPA but nothing sets it apart from similar IPAs. The craft beer market is full of solid IPAs and this one gets a bit lost with the others. The name really makes this beer seem more than what it is. I didn’t dislike the beer by any stretch, but I wouldn’t seek it out again as it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. (more…)

Beer Review #161 Ruination IPA

When I was going through my notes for this beer in preparation of writing this post I found out that this was the first Stone Brewing Company beer that I have reviewed on this site. I was honestly shocked as I have enjoyed a number of their beers. Stone is located in Escondido, CA and is a big player in the craft beer world. I really love their Smoked Porter and their Oaked Arrogant Bastard. Ruination IPA is one that I had never had from them before, so I decided to give it a whirl.

Ruination IPA pours an orange color with a fluffy white head. There is some hazy in the glass as well. The nose is “thick” smelling. There are notes of piney hops in there along with some floral notes. Other than hops and some heat, I didn’t get much else.

On my first taste I expected to be blown away by hops, but I found some really nice upfront sweetness. The hops quickly kick in and follow up with their promise from the smell. Lots of piney hops flow into this beer. I’m generally not a fan of piney hops, but these were pretty nice. I noticed a slight twang at the end, and I’m not sure where that comes from.

As someone who is not a big piney hops fan I thought this beer was outstanding. The balance was well done, if a bit too much hop forward. At 7.7% this is one that you have to be careful with. I found it enjoyable but it isn’t a beer that I could drink a lot of. Mark this one in the nightcap category for me. (more…)

Beer Review #115 New World Tripel

Boston Beer Company, a.k.a Sam Adams, put out a lot of special beers each year in addition to their typical line-up. I recently reviewed one of those special beers that received a lot of press when it came out. One of my friends brought a bottle of New World Tripel down to my house last month and we drank it while watching the Flyers play. New World Tripel is part of Boston Beer’s Barrel Room Collection (check out that link for an interesting read). At the current time, there are three beers in their collection and a fourth will soon be added. I felt honored to try such a limited beer.

New World Tripel pours an orange color and it is super hazy. It does have a fluffy white head as should be expected in a Tripel. The nose is super yeasty with some Belgian spice in there as well. I did not detect any heat on the nose which is surprising since this beer rocks in at 10% ABV.

The front-end of this beer has a nice sweetness that is quickly balanced by the Belgian spices. For a barrel aged beer, this one was very balanced. I bet if we would have let this sit for a year or so it would be much more sour. At the current time, this beer did not have any sour notes. I didn’t get any heat in the flavor of this beer either, which is wonderful and dangerous. This is one sneaky beer.

I’m a sucker for a good Tripel and this one fits the bill. I also love unique bottles, and this one is a must have. I believe they only sell this at the brewery in Boston, but if you get the chance grab one. There are some other good Tripel’s out there but I think this one sits near the top of the list. (more…)

Beer Review #101 Simcoe Spring Ale

We are right in the heart of spring. The weather has been beautiful here in the northeast and this time of year is one of my favorite beer drinking times. I love to sit outside with a beer and read a book or watch my dog eat grass. Our spring beer for today comes from Peak Organic Brewing Company out of Portland, Maine. I reviewed their winter beer a few months ago and found it pretty yummy. I have had the chance to sample a few of their other beers in the mean time (reviews coming) and enjoyed them as well. They are quickly becoming one of my “go to” breweries.

Their spring ale goes by the name Simcoe Spring Ale, with a name like that, I was expecting something pretty hop forward. In case you don’t know, simcoe is a type of hop that is fairly high in alpha acids (really bitter). The beer pours a nice orange color and a wonderful fluffy, white head floats on top of the beer. The nose is very strong and bright. The hops smell fresh and the simcoe really comes out. I couldn’t really get anything other than hops on the nose, which I was sort of expecting.

The hops were of course strong, but not overpowering like they presented themselves in the nose. The malt is grainy and finishes with some solid biscuit flavor. This beer also was a bit grassy in its flavor. Some people think of grassy as a negative, but it can be used to enhance a beer, and Peak Organic has an excellent example of that in this beer.

Overall I really liked this beer. It is very drinkable and not nearly as hoppy as what the nose promises. The balance is really nice in this beer and, if you have been reading this blog for any time, you know that I love a balanced beer. (more…)