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Beer Review #166 Fuller’s London Porter

The end of fall is usually my favorite time of year to drink porters. The “warm” days (compared to winter) and the cold nights make the humble porter the perfect style of beer for this time of year. Today’s beer comes all the way from Chiswick, London, brewed by the Griffin Brewery. I’m generally cautious of imports as they generally are not cared for properly during their transport, thus resulting in poor beer.

Fullers London Porter pours a nice brown to deep ruby color. There is a medium off-white head that goes along with it. The nose is what I expected from a porter; chocolate, roasty, malty, and hints of coffee. I didn’t get the slightest hint of hops on the nose.

On my first taste I was struck by the amazing balance of this beer. The chocolate, roasty, and bits of coffee that come through on the flavor just blend wonderfully. I really am impressed at the balance the three of these flavors represents. There isn’t one that outshines the others, but each is distinct. The mouthfeel of this beer is creamy, which helps it go down all the better.

This porter comes in at 5.4% so you aren’t going to kill yourself drinking a few of these. I really liked this one and I am already looking forward to my next trip to the beer store to buy more, a rarity for me. This is a pretty common beer so it shouldn’t be too big of a hassle to get. If you haven’t had this one yet, go get it. (more…)

Beer Review #163 Otto Ale

I briefly mentioned Otto Ale in my last post and today I am going to review it. Otto Ale comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA and it is a mix of a rauchbier and a Belgian dubbel.  I honestly don’t remember by last dubbel review, but I do remember my last rauchbier review. Smokey beers are slowly growing on me, but we still have a ways to go before we can be considered friends. The idea of this beer came from a trip to Germany in 1987 by the owners of Victory Ron and Bill. I guess they thought that the two types of beer would make a good blend and decided to produce this beer.

Otto Ale pours a deep ruby color with a full off-white head. The nose is very smoky and roasty. It has a BBQ quality to it, but it isn’t overwhelming. I did get a slight bit of malt along with some Belgian yeast “twinge” but the smoke washed out most of what was there.

The taste is, not surprisingly, smoky and roasty. This beer is very light up front with bits of Belgian spices in there. I also found some deep, rich caramels as well. While this beer looks like it would be dark and heavy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It sits very lightly in your mouth and has bold, but not overpowering flavors.

This beer is smoky, but not to the point where it is totally dominant. I really liked the balance struck in this beer between the smoky, Belgian spices, and the malt. Coming in at 8.1% ABV this is a great sipping beer that gets better with some warmth.

Beer Review #97 Atwater Winter Bock

I am a big fan of bock style beers so when I saw a winter bock, I had to grab it. The hand with snow covering the fingertips also enticed me towards this selection. Atwater Winter Bock is brewery by Atwater Block Brewery from Detroit, Michigan. I’m not sure if I have ever had a beer from Detroit, but now is as good of a time as any to start. Atwater Block Brewery specializes in German style lagers and specialty ales. The bottle even said the magic words, “high gravity lager” on it.

This winter offering pours a nice deep ruby color and is accompanied by a light tan head. The nose is very pleasant with some slight roasty components to backup the malty front-end. I also got some slight heat, which can be expected in a 7.5% bock like this one.

On the first sip I really got a complex malt flavor. The roasty back-end was there, but it was accompanied by some chocolate and biscuit. The aftertaste almost tasted like a Wendy’s Frosty. Strange, yes. Good, also yes. There was a slight hop bite in there too, but nothing overpowering. Overall I think this one is pretty decent. Nothing that will rock your socks off, but a solid beer. The roasty component is what did it for me. It is so balanced and delicate that it elevated the entire lager. (more…)

Beer Review #93 Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale

One of the best parts about living on the east coast again is that I get to enjoy River Horse Brewing Company beers. I reviewed their Tripel when I was just starting this site and a few months ago I tasted their fall beer. When I saw their winter ale, Belgian Freeze, I grabbed it right up. I’ve had a few of their other beers that I enjoyed before starting this site and I have two of their current beers in the fridge, so needless to say, I enjoy the majority of their products.

River Horse is brewed in Lambertville, New Jersey and I really need to get up there for a tour. Anyway, onto the beer. Belgian Freeze is a Belgian style ale (shocker) that falls into the dark ale sect of Belgian beers. It pours a wonderful deep ruby color that has a thin, whiteish head floating on top. The nose is pretty sweet, with the classic Belgian spices in there as well. There is a slight roast, which is mostlikely where the color comes from and some heat.

On the first sip I was surprised how nicely the roasted malt flavor mixed with the Belgian spices. It was sweet, as the nose suggested, but it was not cloyingly sweet. There was some heat on the back-end for good measure. I really liked this one. For an 8% beer it goes down pretty easy. The highlight of this beer is the way that the roasted malt and Belgian spices mix. It was unique and interesting, which made me want to enjoy more of this beer. Too bad it is so high in the ABV department because I would love to drink this beer all winter long. (more…)

Beer Review #83 Hibernator

Hibernator ale comes from Log Trail Brewing Company of Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. I have had a few of their beers before and I have generally enjoyed them very much. Hibernator is an unfiltered Scottish Ale, which to mean means that this thing is going to be super malty. Malty = good when it is cold out.

This ale pours a brilliant ruby color with a slightly off-white head. There is a slight haze to it as well which probably comes from the yeast left in the beer since it is unfiltered. The nose is very citrus smelling. Actually it is really fresh and wonderful if you as me. There is some slight malt on the nose, but the hop aromas really bury those smells.

The taste is nice and biscuity. The malt again is light. Not as heavy as I would of expected but it works good in this beer. I also go some lemon or orange flavors mixed in as well. Overall it was a really yummy tasting beer. I guess my biggest problem with this beer is that it doesn’t remind me of winter at all. The typical spices were not there and it just didn’t fit in with a “winter style” beer. I would love to see this in the spring just as things are beginning to warm up and animals are coming out of hibernation.

At 6.0% it is sessionable but again, a bit short of the winter style that I usually like to see. The bottle says that the beer is “robust and malty…” I’m not sure if I would call it either of those, but tasty would be appropriate. (more…)