Skip to main content

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 #258 Rapture

01-08-03I have a super beer for today’s review. For that I am sorry. Rapture comes from Weyerbacher Brewing Company out of Easton, PA. The beer is an American Wild Ale and was fermented and aged 18 months entirely in  pinot noir wine barrels. As a note of comparison, most beers that use barrels are aged in barrels, not fermented in them. It’s an interesting story and it must have been a pain in the ass to do.

Rapture pours a nice ruby brown. It is perfectly clear until the dregs at the bottom start getting mixed in. It has a nice light tan head that slowly collapses on itself. The nose is packed with sour smells. There is a light oak wood odor, but a winey sour flavor really dominate the nose on this one.

The taste is tart, but not anywhere near as tart as the nose suggests. It is a very clean tartness that flows nicely from front to back. There are lots of berry fruits that compliment the sour flavor. There are also notes of cherry and wine in there. Rapture dries out quite well at the end and cleans up well.

This is a very nice, drinkable sour beer. Being that it’s so rare, it’s hard to judge the beer properly without getting a little excited. I can tell you that it’s not the best sour that I have ever had, but for a wild ale that is made entirely in barrels, it has a hell of a story. I would be happy to have this one again. (more…)

Beer Review #216 Urkontinent

Today I have a new limited release beer from Dogfish Head called Urkontinent. To make this beer DFH asked people what ingredients they would like to see used in a beer. They then narrowed down the choices to five. The bottle has this to say about the beer, “ale brewed with wattle seed, amaranth, rooibos, myrica gale, and honey.” I have no idea what any of those things taste like except for honey so this review is going to be fun. O yeah, I forgot to mention that this beer comes in at 8% ABV.

Urkontinent pours a nice brownish color with hints of ruby near the light. It has a medium tan head that quickly collapses on itself leaving just a hit of what was there. The nose is very malty with a lot going on. To be honest, I couldn’t identify all of the smells, but a nice malt sweetness was the big winner with some nice deep dark chocolates in the background. I love trying new and different beers but I hate when I hit a roadblock on describing flavors and smells. DFH does a good job of confusing my tastebuds.

On the first taste I thought this one was a little strange. There is a slight fruitness to the beer along with some heat. The chocolates from the nose are well mixed into the background. There was a slight “Belgian grape” flavor that ran throughout this beer. One thing that kind of threw me off about this beer was how thin it was compared to the ABV. I was expecting something thicker, but this one was water thin. I wish it had a bit more chew to it, but I did find it refreshing.

I apologize for not properly describing this beer, but I just don’t know how to react to it. There are a number of subtle flavors that a better tongue could identify, but I just can’t. I do know that I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I enjoyed the taste or the experience/challenge more. I guess this is one that you have to try for yourself.

(more…)

Beer Review #209 Anchor Bock Beer

One of the first craft beers that I ever had came from the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California and I have enjoyed their beers ever since. I’m a fan of their Christmas beer series that has a new recipe each year. In addition, they serve Anchor Steam at Phillies games along with a large number of craft beers. During last year’s playoffs I didn’t drink a single Anchor beer to show my support for the Phils and my dislike of the Giants, but in the end, the Giants did what the Phillies couldn’t. I’ve finally brought myself around to drinking a beer from San Francisco again, and Anchor Bock Beer is as good of a beer as any to jump back in with.

This bock pours a deep ruby to mahogany color with a tan head. This beer is much dark then what I was expecting. Generally bock’s tend to be lighter in color and double bocks tend to be closer to the color of this beer. While this beer is dark, light does pass through the clear liquid. The nose is very sweet with some strong caramels and slight bread. There is not real hop odor on the nose to cancel out any of the sweetness.

Caramel is the first flavor that I noticed when drinking this bock. The caramel is super sweet but it fades into a nice chocolate roast flavor. Again, there are not hops in this beer to help cut through the sweetness, but the slight roast helps in this respect. I found this beer to have a cigar quality to it. There was just something in it that reminded me of smoking a cigar on my back deck.

I liked this Anchor offering. It was not what I was expecting from a bock as it was far darker and roastier than expected, but it was decent. This beer would be good on those cold spring days that are full of sun, but not warmth. (more…)

Beer Review #46 Winterhook Winter Ale

I got my hands on a winter beer that I have never seen before the other day. That beer was Winterhook Winter Ale by Redhook Ale Brewery out of Woodinville, Washington. My main surprise with finding this beer is that there were spring seasonals (reviews to come) sitting next to it. I’ve had a few other Redhook beers before, but I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this one since my winter beer experience has been so varied.

The ale pours a dark brown color with some ruby-like highlights when held in the light. It is clear and has a thin tan head. The nose on the beers is malty and slightly fruity. Caramel is the strongest of the malt odors coming from the glass. There is a bit of spice on it, but I really couldn’t pick up exactly what it was. There is also some slight hops on the nose, but not overwhelmingly so.

Winterhook has a good malt body and a nice hop bite on the end. There is a slight Belgian like yeast or spice flavor in there as well. It was much cleaner and more hidden than a normal Belgian, but there was a bit of a kick from it to be found in the beer. The hop gets more and more pronounced the more you get into the drink as well. The ale has a medium mouthfeel and, as I said before, and really nice body.

Winterhook is a super drinkable winter ale. It isn’t really high on the ABV rankings coming in at 5.9% but it has a great balance of everything. It is a nice winter ale that I think a lot of people would really enjoy. There are a lot of flavors going on and it takes a bit of time to break them all down. The beer also had great lacing if that is important to you. Overall I enjoyed this beer but it wasn’t my favorite winter ale of the season. (more…)