Skip to main content

Beer Review #49 Hobgoblin

For some reason I have been in an English beer kick for the past few weeks. Maybe it is because I have been watching a lot of Band of Brothers on HBO recently, but I am really digging the English style ales right now. Unfortunately Lubbock does not offer much in the way of English style ales, however I did find the subject of today’s review, Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery. The Wychwood Brewery is located in Oxfordshire, England and they make about two dozen or so different beers since I last checked.

Hobgoblin pours a dark brown to ruby color and has a thin off-white head that quickly fades into the beer. It is perfectly clear and the head that started with the pour comes in medium sized bubbles. Just like most English ales the malt is showcased on the nose. Toffy and caramel are a few of the highlights, followed by the malt itself. There is also a slight hop smell in there as well.

After tasting the beer, Hobgoblin was exactly what I wanted. Biscuit, malt, nut, and a slight hop bit were all there to be found on the tongue. Sadly my bottle also had a few skunk flavors in there as well, but there did not overpower the beer like some skunk can. I am going to blame Lubbock on the skunk and not the beer itself. There was also some dried fruit in there, mainly grape. The mouthfeel was very thin and the beer was lowly carbonated.

Hobgoblin is very easy to drink and exceptionally dry. When people who have not tried a lot of beers see a “darker” beer the immediately assume that it is thick and high in ABV. This beer is a great example of how assuming things makes an ass of of… well you know the rest of it. It comes in at 5.2% ABV and is almost watery. I found it very easy drinking and a sure thing for anyone who appreciates English ales.

Hobgoblin comes in 500 ml bottles that have a unique design to them. I don’t know about you, but an interesting shaped bottle and almost make be buy a beer without loving the style. Luckily this beer did both for me. If you have a chance to pick it up, I suggest grabbing a bottle or six pack (they sell those too) as you will not be disappointed. And make sure that you are getting it from a place that replaces it’s stock regularly, skunked beer is no good.  (more…)

Beer Review #42 Winter Lager

When I first got into craft beer, Sam Adams was one of the breweries that helped bridge the gap. Sam Adams a.k.a. Boston Beer Company does a great job at making flavorful beer that is acceptable the the majority of beer drinkers out there. They may not make everything that a seasoned craft beer drinker would like, but they do a great job of opening people up to new styles and flavors.

Winter Lager was always one of my favorites so when I saw it in the store I grabbed it. It pours a nice amber, ruby color and it is perfectly clear. There is also a fluffy off-white head. The nose on the beer is toasty, malty, and some slightly fruity esters in there. The fruity part is slightly surprising being that it is a lager and generally, lagers are cleaner tasting than ales and they generally do not produce a lot of esters either.

The taste is nice an malty. The malt sweetness is upfront with toasty and bready flavors throughout. There is a slight hop on the back-end but it is not overwhelming in the slightest. Sam Adams Winter Lager comes in at 5.80% ABV as well. This is a super drinkable beer that I think most would enjoy. It is light-medium in body and has a great aftertaste. I think this is a decent introduction to seasonal beers and fits well into the winter seasonal “style.” I still want something darker and richer for winter time, but, being that this is a mass produced beer on a much larger scale than I usually talk about, I will let it slide. (more…)

Beer Review #38 Full Moon

I can honestly say that I don’t do “macro” brews on here very often. That is do to a number of factors, but the main two are that I like to support smaller breweries and that I think the smaller breweries turn out a better product. Full Moon is brewed by the Blue Moon Brewing Company, which is a spin-off of Coors. Blue Moon actually got its start at the test brewery for Coors located at Coors Field. As Dane Cook would say, “there’s a fun fact for you (an FF).” Is that still relevant, I mean really when is the last time you heard a Dane Cook joke?

And back to topic we go. My wife used to love this beer, and being that seasonal beers are tough to find in Lubbock, I’m willing to buy almost any seasonal, from wherever, and made by whomever. So we grabbed it. Full Moon pours a ruby color with an off-white head that quickly diminishes. It is crystal clear, if that matters to you. The bottle says the following, “this full-bodied ale is brewed with roasted malts and a hint of Dark Belgian sugar for a perfectly balanced taste.” OK then.

The nose on the beer is a malty sweetness, with a small bit of Belgian sugar. There is an ever so slight hint of the Belgian yeast, but you could easily miss it. The taste starts with a slightly malty tone, followed by some slight Belgian yeast. The candy sugar in the beer is the most apparent taste with some bready notes also buried in there. I’m surprised a Belgian beer could be toned down so much on the yeast ends of things. The taste is not super strong, but it does give a nice ending to the beer. There isn’t any hop flavor in there either, not that it should always be expected with a Belgian beer.

The body of the beer comes in light-medium and it is rather watery. Blue Moon puts this under an Abbey Ale while I have also seen it classified as a Belgian Dubbel. Which ever the case, it is a watered down version of a true representative of this style. It is drinkable, but for most craft beer drinkers I think this one misses the mark. It is a great introduction to craft beer though for a newcomer. While it is made by a macro, it is balanced enough to not turn someone off. This isn’t going to be for a Belgian beer lover, but as an introduction to the style, it isn’t bad. (more…)

Beer Review #37 Mad Elf

While I may not be in PA anymore, that didn’t stop me from enjoying on of my favorite seasonal beers, Mad Elf. Made Elf is made by Tröegs Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. They only make it for two months of the year and it can even be tough to find when it is in production. Mad Elf is classified as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale and it is brewed with honey and cherries. It also rocks in at 11%, so that wonderful warming feeling is sure to help on a cold winter night. And if you noticed, or care, winter officially beings today, so our winter seasonals will be coming in on the site.

The beer pours a nice clear ruby color, with a thin head that fades pretty quickly. The head is fully white, with no off colors and is made of mostly tiny bubbles, with a few medium ones mixed in. The nose of the beer is decidedly Belgian. It smells a lot like a Tripel, with everything you would expect out of a Belgian Ale yeast. I did not pick up much of the honey notes from the nose, but the cherry component comes through very nicely. There is some malt in there is well, but minimal hops.

The taste is complex and rich. The Belgian yeast flavors are in there, and so are the cherries. The cherries are not as strong as the nose might suggest. The honey comes through a bit more in the taste. I can really only describe the flavor as rich and creamy. It finishes dry with a wonderful aftertaste. The esters from the yeast and a bit of the hop leave the pallet pleased. As the beer warms it gives way to some heat (alcohol), though you would never suspect that this beer is coming in at 11%.

Mad Elf is carbonated nicely and has a nice and full mouthfeel. I really enjoy this beer and it reminds me of home. I know last year at this time I enjoy more than my fair share of it to the point that the guy at the beer store would have me ready to check out before I even picked out my beer. Rarely do I do a repeat case of beer, but with seasonal beers I take a “get as much as I can” approach. I know some people will by two cases a year; one to drink and one to let sit for a year.

I have never had this beer when it was aged, but in general I am not a fan of aging beers. I feel like you get a fresher flavor and more accurate taste the newer a beer is. The one exception is when there are a lot of hot notes, as they tend to fade with age. Getting back on track, Mad Elf is a nice winter seasonal that will warm you. The 11% sneaks up on you and can throw you for a loop if you are not careful. But if you enjoy a Belgian beer with a more complex grouping of flavors, enjoy. It is going to be more sweet than a normal Belgian and also not as spicy, but a great balance overall. (more…)

Beer Review #33 Ommegang Abbey Ale

11-08-02I thought I was out of my Belgian kick that I was on over the summer, but I found another reason to continue. Ommegang Abbey Ale is a Belgian Dubbel from Brewery Ommegang out of Cooperstown, NY. I saw two options of bottling for this beer, a four-pack or a 750 ml corked bottle. I opted to go for the four-pack as it was a better buy and I didn’t have to drink it all at once.

I allowed the beer to warm up at cellar temperatures as it takes on a different feel when it is colder. The cold attempt I made I didn’t get much aroma, but a lot of sourness. Once I allowed it to warm on my next beer, I had a much better tasting beer. It pours a deep ruby color with a thick light brown head. The head on the beer is made entirely of tiny bubble (high carbonation) and a thin layer of head lasted through the entire drink. The Abbey Ale is pretty clear with some haze from the yeast and a few groups of things in suspension, as common with most Belgian beers.

11-08-03The nose was very fruity. I think the smell that stood out the most was a grape to sour grape smell. The yeast was also heavy on the nose with some hints of malt. No hops were detectable. On my first sip I was hit with the malt on the front, followed by a sourness, and then the Belgian yeast bite. There was a grapy aftertaste. As I kept drinking some bitter chocolate notes came though as well. The Belgian yeast had a slightly different twang than a normal Belgian yeast strain, it was much more sour. Most of the time you get a spiciness from Belgian yeast, there was some, but not as pronounced as other Belgian beers I have had.

The mouthfeel was medium and the high carbonation was wonderful. I really enjoyed drinking this beer. It is a perfect beer to drink slowly during a long period of time. As the beer warms to room temperature a host of new notes come out and make it more and more interesting. Ommegang Abbey Ale comes in a 8.5% which is on the higher end of ABV for Belgain Dubbels.

There were a few interesting notes on the back of the bottle as well. It says, “Part of the Duvel family of fine ales.” Brewery Ommegang was named after Belgium’s oldest medieval festival. This beer is also cellared at the brewery. If you like Belgian beers give this one a try, you will not be disappointed. It is wonderfully flavorful and complex. It really was a treat of a beer to drink. (more…)