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What to expect from a beer

When I was new into the craft beer scene I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. There are so many choices that it is a bit overwhelming. There are also a lot of random names that appear over and over again on bottles of beer that seem to give some type of classification. Pale Ale, Stout, Porter, Lager, these words appear on a lot of beer labels after the actual name of the beer. If you don’t know what they mean, you might be getting into something that you don’t want or like.

While there are a lot of names, beer is pretty simple. Like wine, beer is broken down into styles. Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Champagne are all different types of wine, and you have an idea of what to expect when you hear them. The same follows through for beer. Hell, dogs are even classified and you know what to expect from one breed to another. Like wine, beer is basically broken down into to main categories where everything else stems from. In the wine world, white or red are the start of the branching out. In the beer world, you fall under lager and ale.

Unlike the wine world (at least in my experience), an ale can taste like a lager and a lager can taste like a beer. These two classifications simple refer to the type of yeast that was used in making the beer. In general ales ferment at a higher temperature, take less like to ferment, and also ferment on the top of the beer. Lager yeast is the exact opposite, they like lower temperatures, long fermentation times, and ferment on the bottom of the beer.

So knowing a lager from an ale might help you with a few things, but not a whole lot. Out of those two main branches of the beer world grows a much fuller tree. I’m not going to address what each style is right now as that would take a long time to complete, but when looking at a beer, the style tells you what to expect from the beer. When you see stout on a label, you expect a thick, dark colored beer with a tan head that is going to be smooth and full of roasty flavors. If you were expecting to get something like that out of a pilsner, you are sadly mistaken. I am going to be doing a “series” on beer styles and explore each one and give recommendations on good examples of each style. But just remember that when you want to know what to expect from a beer, look at the style and you will have a much deeper understanding of what you will be tasting.

Beer Review #34 Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55

11-12-05A few years  ago when I started to like the whole craft beer thing I bought a sampler case from the Brooklyn Brewery. At the time it was the most expensive case of beer I bought, coming in at $34.95. I have since passed that mark for expensive cases, but that really doesn’t mean much. A good beer can be found in a $25 case and a bad beer can be found in a $100 case. Price doesn’t really equate to quality in the craft beer world.

When I got that variety case from Brooklyn Brewery I loved the Pennant Ale ’55. Ever since I have been wanting to get just a six pack so that I could have it again. My local store carries Brooklyn Lager and occasionally Brooklyn Pale Ale, but I have never seen the Pennant Ale 55′. I walked in the other day, and there it was. I have got to tell you that I was more than excited. I quickly brought it and $8.99 and a short ride later and it was all mine to drink.

11-12-03Brooklyn Pennant Ale 44′ pours a golden amber in color with a slightly off-white head. The head is thick and lasting and a thin head will remain through the entire beer. There are a lot of small to medium bubbles and the beer is perfectly clear. The nose is very malty. Biscuit, toast, and bread were what I picked up in the malt area. There was a slight hop aroma, being slightly floral, but not overpowering and not bitter at all.

On the first taste the malt was the first thing that I noticed. There is a lot  caramel notes along with bread. A few other toasty notes were found, but they were not overpowering. The hop of course comes on the back-end and provides a nice bite to the caramel of the malt. It is not a overly hoppy beer, but has a strong finish. I also picked up a slight metallic flavor in there, that I didn’t remember from before when I had drank it. Perhaps I just had an old six pack as seems to be common for good beer here in Lubbock.

The mouthfeel is medium in body, but very round. It starts light and grows quickly on the tongue, and then leaves quickly. It finishes very dry. Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55 is named for the Brooklyn Dodgers and when they last won the Pennant. It is a very drinkable beer that is also enjoyable. If you like round body, caramel filled, dry finish ales, then this beer is for you.  I’ve probably had better from this style of beer, but Brooklyn Brewery makes a strong entry. (more…)

09-15-02

Real Ale Brewing Company Full Moon Pale Rye Ale Beer Review

09-15-02I bought a sampler six pack from Real Ale Brewing Company 2 weeks ago and I’ve slowly been getting through their three offerings. On a side note, I love the idea of a sampler six pack and I wish more breweries would do something similar. Back to the beer at hand, Real Ale Brewing Company is based out of Blanco, Texas which is almost in between San Antonio and Austin. The company was started out of a basement brewery in 1996 and has since moved up to a 60 barrel brewery. There isn’t much on their website but they seem very community oriented and are willing to give away some free beer for a non-profit community event.

I am always more out to buy something from  a company that is willing to support its local community, but I digress. Full Moon Pale Rye Ale pours a nice golden amber in color and is perfectly clear. It is slightly darker than the typical pale ale but I believe that comes from the rye malt added in. It also has a nice fluffy head that, while it diminishes a bit, stays through the entire drink.  The smell of the beer is all hops with some malt sweetness but I did not detect the rye malt in there.

It taste like a typical pale ale with a slight rye flavor. You notice the rye more on the aftertaste. There is a great balance of hops to malt. I’ve seen a few reviews where people complained about too much hops but I did not find that, I thought the balance was pretty good. If they wanted the rye to stand out a bit more there should of been some less hops, but I enjoyed it on the aftertaste.

09-15-05

The mouthfeel was light and pretty thin. This was not a chewy beer. I’m not the biggest fan of pale ales (gasp!) but I enjoyed this one. The rye adds a bit of flavor that was different and nice. Now I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent. I don’t understand why rye and hops are being paired together some much right now. Michelob just released their Rye P.A. and I’ve seen a few other beers featuring hops and rye showing up on the shelves. The rye flavor is so delicate that the addition of too many hops blows it out of the water. I really enjoy a nice rye beer, just one that is not over hopped for the malt to carry through. I guess the brewers are trying to get a different malt character out of the beer but I prefer to have the rye shine a little bit more. Anyway this is a Texas beer and it doesn’t look like they distribute much further than Texas. It was enjoyable and something a bit different. If you are a pale ale fan try it out and see if you like the rye flavor on top of the typical pale ale. (more…)

08-25-03

Pete’s Wicked Ale Wanderlust Cream Ale Beer Review

08-25-02I recently got a variety pack from Pete’s Wicked Ale and in it was Wanderlust Cream Ale. I’m not a big fan of cream ales to begin with, but I tried to keep a clear head. To be fair my only other experience with a cream ale is Genesee, which, while my best man’s father loves it, I do not. Anyway, the bottle is pretty neat looking as you can see from the pictures.

I opened up the bottle and poured it out. There was a nice sweet aroma in the air which a nice fluffy head, that quickly vanished into nothing. I didn’t notice any hops or anything like that on the nose, just a pleasant sweet smell. This is just a nice looking beer. It is perfectly clear and the color of a pale ale.

08-25-03Looks don’t matter much if the taste can’t back it up. My first taste was light. There wasn’t a lot going on. There was some malt sweetness and just a hint of hop on the back end, but that was about it. I kept drinking to see if I could explore some other flavors, and the only thing I noticed as I kept drinking was a metallic taste. It was creamy, but a bit lighter than what I am used to. I guess it fits the style of beer pretty well, but as I said in the second sentence of this post, I don’t like it.

If you like cream ales, you would enjoy this beer, but that is all I would recommend it to. Click the read more link to see more pictures of the beer and the neat bottle. (more…)

07-30-01

Portland Breweries: Full Sail Brewing Company

07-30-01On my visit to Texas last year I saw a few six packs of Full Sail beer at the store, but decided to go with some Fat Tire instead. On my honeymoon I got to discover what I missed all that time ago. Smalls and I decided that Full Sail was one of the many breweries that we would visit during our stay. There are a ton of breweries in Portland, and Oregon for that matter. So many in fact that our hotel gave us a brewery guide to Oregon. It was like eight pages long!

Getting back to Full Sail, we hoped on the Portland Street Car (still in fairless square) and took it down to one of the last free stops. Went towards the river and found Full Sail’s tasting room in Portland. The full brewery is located about an hour outside of the city. The tasting room is also attached to a resturant that was pretty pricy, but the beer was not.

We obviously got a sampler from their many beers and made sure to get their three main brews: Amber, IPA, and Pale Ale. They had a wheat beer, a stout, a porter, and a few other IPAs. I really wanted to try their barleywine, but they were out, darn.

I’m not going to get into all of the beers becasue they tasted as they should. Very good and stuck to the standards very nicely. I did get the stout on cask as well and it was excellent. Stouts might be my favorite beer to have in a cask. The flavors combine so nicey and the warm temperature brings out a lot of hidden flavors. They also had a Pilsner which was excellent. Really crisp and light but packed with flavor.

I would visit Full Sail again the next time I get out to Portland.