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Beer Review #205 Tröegs Pale Ale

I recently had the chance to visit Tröegs Brewing Company’s new brewery in Hershey, PA. Tröegs is in the process of moving their operations out of Harrisburg, PA to Hershey as they have outgrown their current location. The new brewery is giant (compared to  their last one) and beautiful. I heard that they are going to be using their current brewing system as a pilot brewery and to brew their Scratch series of beers. After the new brewery is fully up and running, brewing operations at the Harrisburg location will cease and they will move over the remaining equipment to Hershey. One of beers that helped put Tröegs on the map in the east is their Pale Ale. I have enjoyed this beer a number of times, but I have reviewed it on this site.

The Pale Ale pours a nice clear orange color with a soapy white head. The nose is full of bright citrus hops. Behind the ample hops are some hints of bread and a light caramel odor. The hops really dominate the smell on this beer. They are fresh and bright. As I have said before, I enjoy citrus hops much more then pine hops so this beer fits right into my wheelhouse.

To begin with this pale ale starts with a slight sweetness which is quickly followed by a good punch of hops. As the nosed promised, the hops present themselves as bright and crisp in the flavor arena. With such a solid addition of hops you would expect this beer to be out of balance, but it isn’t at all. The malt really supports the hops and makes this pale ale very nice.

This is one of my favorite pale ales. It is nicely balanced and full of hop flavor. It also only comes in at 5.4% so you could have a few and not be in trouble. If you haven’t had a chance to get you hands on this one yet, I suggest you do. It’s not up to the level of a west coast pale ale, in terms of hops, but the balance on this beer is so good that it becomes dangerously drinkable. (more…)

Beer Review #197 Dig Pale Ale

I know that I said that I wanted to move away from purchasing seasonal beers, but I had no idea that today’s beer was the new spring seasonal of New Belgium Brewing Company. New Belgium seems to be putting out a lot of new seasonal beers now instead of sticking with returning classics. I suppose a lot of breweries do this and keep a seasonal in a rotation of a few years before another beer comes along to fill it’s spot. I have nothing against seasonal beers and I know that they are big sellers for the craft beer market, but I really want to focus on beers that are accessible year-round.

Dig Pale Ale comes in at 5.6% ABV and uses five different types of hops to achieve New Belgium’s desired bitterness profile. Two of the hops used (Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace) I have never even heard of. This ale pours a light copper color and has a decent white head. The nose has a slight citrus and lemon hop odor. The classic New Belgium “earthy” smell is there as well along with a slight malt toastyness. I was expecting there to be a bit more in the way of complexity, but this beer’s nose is pretty flat.

On my first taste I was surprised by the amount of malt and body to this beer. There is some really good sweetness that kicks in right from the get go and carries through the whole drink. A very balanced citrus hop comes in about halfway through the beer and really cleans up the sweetness. There are some hits of tropical fruits in the hops, but they are only there for an instant before the cascade hops wash them out.

This is a nicely balanced pale ale that is darn drinkable. I wouldn’t consider it outstanding or anything to write home about, but this one is a solid pale ale that should stay in rotation for another year or so. (more…)

Beer Review #135 Headwaters Pale Ale

Victory Brewing Company of Dowingtown, Pa released this pale ale to the public just this year. To my knowledge they did not make a packaged pale ale prior to this point. It’s somewhat surprising that they haven’t had a sable one to this point considering pale ales are a big seller. I wasn’t sure why they named the beer Headwaters Pale Ale until I ran across this bit on their site:

Named to pay homage to the water with which is it brewed, Headwaters Pale Ale is not only a refreshing beer but also a vehicle for Victory charity. A portion of every bottle sold is collected and distributed to environmental advocacy groups through the Headwaters Grant.

No it makes sense. There is a lot of other great information on the link given above if you are interested in reading a bit more about it. Now onto the beer review!

Headwaters Pale Ale pours a nice orange color. It is perfectly clear and has a thin white head to go along with the liquid. The nose is full of big bright hops. There is a lot of grapefruit in these hops. I believe they use Simcoe hops in the brewing of this beer which gives off a very similar aroma. There is some sweetness mixed in, but the bright hops are what really shin on the nose.

Unlike what the nose suggests, the malt in this beer is pretty solid. There are notes of toasted caramel along with some good honey-like flavors. The grapefruit is in there was well. I didn’t really get a lot of piney hop flavors, but there was a small touch in there. I found the flavor to be slightly grassy as well.

Headwaters is a pretty solid pale ale. It isn’t quite a typical pale ale but it is enjoyable. When I was drinking the beer I found some things, that resembled bits of lemon, in the beer. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be there or not but they didn’t bother me or add any noticeable flavors. Try this one out if you haven’t yet. Let me know if you get the lemon things in your beer as well. (more…)

Beer Review #127 Flashpoint Pale Ale

When I first got into craft beer, one of the first breweries that I tasted things from was Hook and Ladder Brewing Company out of Silver Spring, MD.I was a bit confused when finding the location of this brewery, as their bottles says Wilks Barre, Pa, but their website and most other internet resources says the Silver Springs location. I’m assuming they contract brew with the Lion Brewing Company and that would account for the labeling on the bottle.

I’ve always liked the idea of craft beer “helping the greater good.” Hook and Ladder donates a portion of their profits to local fire departments. Since 2005 they have raised over $60,000. I would love to do something similar with my future brewpub, but I have a different group that I would want to donate to. But that’s a story for another time.

Flashpoint Pale Ale (great name) pours a nice amber color and has a thin, light tan head. It it perfectly clear and it looks very nice. A tad dark compared to most pale ales, but a good looking beer none the less. The nose is super malty with some strong smells of dark caramel. There is a slight citrus smell that is produced from the hops in the beer.

The nose promised malt, and the taste carries through on that promise. I got a lot of strong caramels, almost too strong. There was some slight citrus from the hops and also some slight biscuit. To go along with the hops and malt, the yeast gives a few dry fruity esters which is a nice addition to the beer.

I’m not sure how well this fits into a typical pale ale in terms of style. It was much more malt forward than what I would have expected. The flavors did mix very nicely and there was a good amount of complexity thanks to the strong malts and slight fruit. This probably isn’t an award winner, but it is nice to have a pale ale that isn’t all about the hops. (more…)

Beer Review #124 Summer Session Ale

I have been on quite the Peak Organic Brewing Company kick lately. I’ve never heard of them until this year (even though I spent a number of days in Portland, Maine a few years ago), but since that time I have purchased a number of their beers. In each case, I have found their beers to be very crisp and fresh tasting. When I saw their Summer Session Ale on the shelves last weekend I just had to try it.

Like the yellow label suggest, Summer Session Ale pours a nice golden color with a fluffy white head. It is also perfectly clear which allows you to watch the bubbles dance up the middle of the glass. The nose isn’t super complex and is marked with their signature crisp hop aroma. These hops were strongly citrus and the malt or other flavoring kicked in some lemon odors as well. Overall it smelled very nice and straightforward.

Summer Session Ale is classified Pale Ale with some wheat malt mixed into the grain bill. On the first taste I was expecting something that tasted along the lines of a hoppy pale ale, but with a more complex malt character. What I got was a beer that didn’t have a major malt component. The crisp, fresh hoppy finish really dominates this beer. The hops are strongly citrus but I didn’t get any of the lemon flavor that was promised in the nose. There was some slight bread flavor in there but nothing to write home about.

Overall I liked this beer but didn’t find it very “summery.” Adding citrus flavors to a beer doesn’t make it a summer beer. However, Peak succeeded in making a very crisp and refreshing pale ale that I would be happy to drink during any period of the year. This beer is only 5% ABV so it does fit nicely into the session area. Try it out if you are looking for a different type of summer beer that is away from your typical wheat beer. (more…)