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03-25-00

Beer Review #321 Wake Up Dead Nitro

03-25-02Left Hand Brewing Company has just started to be carried again at my local beer store so I have been trying a whole bunch of their stuff recently. I love their Milk Stout and their Nitro Milk Stout. I saw Wake Up Dead Nitro the other day and I grabbed it quickly. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout that comes in at 10.2% ABV.

Wake Up Dead Nitro pours a jet black color and comes with a thin tan head. The bubbles are super small thanks to the nitrogen carbonation. The nose is pretty blank. I really struggled to get anything from this one. Generally you expect some chocolates and roast and maybe even some hops, but I didn’t even get a hint of caramel off of this one. Weird.

On the first taste I was blown away by the malt flavor. There are lots of dark chocolates and roast going on. Some heat comes into the mix as the drink moves to the halfway portion. I also got some raisins and cherries which added a nice layer of complexity. There are some dark fruits that mix in at the end along with the return of the dark chocolate and the bitterness that it brings.

I very much liked this beer. It has a nice, complex malt and is everything that an Imperial Russian Stout should be. I wish it had a bit more on the nose, but I don’t know if that’s do to the nitro carbonation. If you are looking for a solid stout that has some ( a lot) of strength, this one is for you. (more…)

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…)

Beer Review #284 Grand Cru Dark Ale

04-14-03One of the most random style categories out there is Grand Cru. Most beer categories have a set range of numbers, color, and other things that are pretty specific, but Grand Cru is wide open. I’ve have everything from sour to peppery. Green Flash Brewing Company makes a Grand Cru and that’s what we are looking at today. Let’s see what direction they decided to go with this open style.

Grand Cru Dark Ale pours a dark ruby color. You can’t see through it as first glance, but when held up to the light you can see that it is clear and changes the source of the light beautifully as it travels through the liquid. The head is a light tan color and soon fades into the beer below.The nose starts with a good malty, caramel base. It then morphs into a nice helping of dark fruits, most notably fig and plum. It ends on a slightly spicy note.

On the first taste the first thing I noticed was the drop of heat. This beer comes in an at a massive 9.1% ABV so it’s not surprising that alcohol shows up. The caramel smells follow through to the flavor and add a nice splash of sticky sweetness. A nice raisin flavor develops in the caramel and carries through until the end of the sip. Grand Cru Dark Ale has a spicy Belgian finish that has a bit of clove on the end.

This is yet another Grand Cru that is different from what I have had in the past. It is nice and smooth. It’s a little sweet but overall it’s pretty well balanced. This is a style that I want to explore more as I love the variety and combinations of flavors that different breweries put into it. (more…)

Beer Review #262 Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale

01-20-02Dogfish Head recently rolled out a new beer in their Ancient Ale series of beers; Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. I usually have a hard time saying no to a new beer from Dogfish Head. They do such a great job of making you want their beer. The results are usually pretty good but there have been a few clunkers in there. According to the bottle this beer is “an ancient ale brewed with honey, hazelnut flour, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice, and pomegranates.” It also comes in at 8.5% ABV. I have no idea what the majority of those things taste like, but it does sound interesting.

Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale pours a copper color with a reddish hue. It has a giant off-white head on the initial pour that quickly fades down to just a thin layer. The nose is very sweet. There isn’t an heat to be found but there are lots of fruits. The raisins and pomegranates that are listed in the ingredient list come out big time in the nose. I find that a lot of these ancient ales tend to have similar noses as grapes/raisins are a typical ingredient.

The sweetness found in the nose continues through to the taste. This beer is very sweet upfront. It is then followed by a slight spicy flavor that fades into the fruit flavors found in the nose. There is a wheaty characteristic that flows through the whole beer. This ale ends on a bready, earthy note. I was really surprised that I didn’t get any heat in this beer. Usually at 8.5% you start to get a hint that the beer is high alcohol when it warms, but not in this beer.

This is one of the beer beers that Dogfish Head has put out in awhile. It has solid flavors and is very balanced. I really thought that it was going to be over the top sweet, but it came down and ended up being very nice. I really like beers that capture an earthy quality and this beer has it. I’m not going to be grabbing another one of these as the price tag ($15) is a bit too high for me, but it is a super enjoyable beer. (more…)

Beer Review #259 The Beast

01-10-02I’m a bit of a roller coaster nerd and when I saw the name of this beer, my mind immediately went the Beast at Kings Island, the World’s longest wooden roller coaster. Much like the roller coaster, this beer takes a long time to go through as it comes in at 16%! The Beast is brewed by Avery Brewing Company and is an “ale with raisins, dates, molasses and honey.” Holy balls. And yes, that is Ticket to Ride in the picture. If you haven’t played it, you should.

The Beast pours a reddish copper color and it is perfectly clear. It has a light tan head that fades away very quickly thanks to the high alcohol. The nose is packed with dark fruits and a surprising amount of sweetness. There are not any hops to make note of. You can tell this beer is strong after a quick whiff, but there isn’t any heat on the nose. It’s a truly amazing feat as alcohol at this percentage begs to have its presence known.

As the nose promised, there are lots of dark fruits on the first sip. The use of dates and raisins are evident when sampling. There is a little bit of sweetness upfront. It never really goes away, but it becomes less of a key player as the drink progresses. On the back end you get some aged hop flavors that balance the beer out. The beer really warms you up all the way down. It’s very nice.

I’m shocked at how smooth a big beer like this is. Unlike a lot of big beers, this one isn’t chewy. It has real beer characteristics and it makes for a really enjoyable drink. If you can find it, grab it. I’m generally not a huge fan of big, big beers, but this one is good. Really good. (more…)