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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…)

Beer Review #95 Peak Winter Session Ale

I have another beer from Portland, Maine for today’s beer review. I don’t remember this brewery at all from my travels in the northeast, but I am glad that I found them. They make some wonderful beer. I recently picked up a four pack of their Espresso Amber Ale and I suggest you do the same as you see it. Peak Organic Brewing Company makes some wonderful beers and I was thrilled to try their Winter Session Ale.

This winter ale pours an amber color and a slightly off-white head sits on top of the magic below. The beer is classified by the popular beer review sites as a “dark American wheat ale.” I honestly have no idea what that means or what to expect from it. The nose spews grapefruit hops, and that’s it. I guess I see where the American part of the classification comes in.

The taste is surprisingly complex. The nose just hinted that there would be hops, but it hid all of the other flavors. There is a great coffee/roast flavor in the malt of this ale that is paired nicely with a hoppy finish. It is very nicely balanced and a joy to drink. This beer rocks in at a modest 5.0% ABV so you can enjoy quite a few of them before calling it quits. This Peak offering is very complex for a beer that doesn’t offer much in the aroma department. Grab it if you can! (more…)

Beer Review #94 Gearys’ Winter Ale

I first had a D.L. Geary Brewing Company beer when my at the time girlfriend and I were doing a road trip through the northeast. The at the time girlfriend turned into my wife and we still enjoy a good Geary Brewing Company beer from time to time. Our first ale from this company was in Portland, Maine, home of Geary and we had a few others during out trip though the various states of the northeast. I remember them being straightforward beers that delivered on what they promised.

Geary’s Winter Ale was something that I hadn’t had a chance to try on our road trip and I jumped a the chance to try it when I saw it at my local beer store. It pours a deep amber color and comes with a wispy tan head. It is classified as an English IPA, which I though a bit odd, but strangely fitting for a winter beer. The nose didn’t present itself as an IPA, rather as a malty, complex ale. It had some hints of coffee along with some wonderful dried fruit aromas. I didn’t get any noticeable hops from the nose.

On the first taste I was shocked at how much this beer tasted like toffee. I’ve never had a beer that tasted like toffee as much as this beer did. There was some coffee mixed in there as well and it all combined to make a wonderfully balanced ale. I found it to be very enjoyable. My only complaint is that it is a bit on the rich side, so I couldn’t drink a ton of these without having something to breakup the toffee. It comes in at 6.00% ABV so it isn’t overpowering on the alcohol scale. Try it out if you see it, especially if you like malty, sweet beers. (more…)

Beer Review #51 Allagash White

About two weeks ago I was talking about how I was in an English ale mood. That phase has come and passed, unlike these guys who have a whole month devoted to English beers. Right now I am back where I was around this time last year, Belgian beers. I don’t know what is going on with my taste buds but it seems every two weeks I am in the mood for something totally different. It makes it tough as a homebrewer because I generally like to brew beer styles I like. At this rate I have no idea what I want. What does that have to do with a beer review? Well nothing, so let’s get to it.

As part of my Belgian beer kick I was lucky enough to find a four pack of Allagash White from the Allagash Brewing Comapny in Portland, Maine. Allagash White is classified as a Belgian White ale and totally delivers on the promise in every way. It pours a brilliant cloudy, golden color and has a nice fluffy white head to boot. The yeast that stays in the beer at the time of bottling can easily been seen in suspension. The nose is light, but full of aromas. The first thing I noticed was the Belgian yeast spices (clove, banana, etc). There was also a light malt sweetness thrown in there.

On the tongue there is a light lemon flavor up front. The Belgian yeast follows soon after with the banana coming first, then followed by the clove. It finishes with a wonderful aftertaste, that leaves you wanting more. It is very crisp and refreshing as well. A Belgian White is supposed to be a light, delicate beer that is full of flavor, but is also so well balanced that the smallest mistake could throw that balance off. Allagash White is light and watery in the mouthfeel department, as you would expect for the style. This is an unmistakably drinkable beer. Great for a hot day or a warm spring day. It goes down easily and has enough of everything to make you want more.

When I first had this I was on a run of Belgian Tripels, so this seemed a bit watered down and unappealing. The more I drank it the more I found that I liked it. It was very subtle in it’s approach to a Belgian style beer. I really enjoyed it and I think you would too. The bottle is also a fun read because they should you how to pour the beer to get everything you can out of it. I always enjoy when breweries do the small extra things in helping educate the drinker. Again, this is a wonderful beer, try it if you get the chance. (more…)

Spontaneously fermenting

Basic Brewing Radio recently did an interview with one of the brewers at Allagash Brewing Company about spontaneously fermented beer. You can see the video below that started the whole conversation. I think it is pretty cool and an awesome experiment for a production brewery.

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Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine has built a cool ship for spontaneously fermenting beer. This is a traditional method for brewign in Belgium. This is the inaugural use of the cool ship. You can see that the beer is coming from inside the brewery. At this point it has just been filtered in our whirlpool. the beer passes through the sieve so that there are no pieces of spice or hops in the cool ship. The beer will sit in the cool ship overnight, allowing the beer to cool. When the temperature is right ambient yeast will begin to ferment the beer, in this way it is spontaneously fermented.