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Beer Review #106 Smooth Hoperator

Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of my “local favorites.” I went to college about 20 minutes away from the brewery and worked 5 minutes from the brewery a few years ago. I dig the whole vibe to the place and they make some really wonderful beer. I have reviewed two (Fall and Winter) of their other seasonal beers in the past year or so and enjoyed both of them. I have seven of their beers still to review, but I figured their “springish” style seasonal is more timely. The reason I say “springish” is because the brewery calls it a seasonal beer, but doesn’t have an official release time for it.

Smooth Hoperator (great name) is a Doppelbock that features a smooth looking ram on the label. Ram are a traditional logo for any beer with the word “bock” in it. This beer rocks in at 7.2% ABV, so this isn’t a beer you can drink a ton of, although you might want to. This beer pours a nice amber to copper color and has a fluffy off-white head. The nose has super bright hops. There is some grapefruit mixed in there as well, but not much else.

The taste has a nice rich malty front-end. There are some caramel notes in there but other notes were hard to pick-up.  Right after the malt comes some great, punchy hops. The grapefruit from the nose comes through, but so does an unmistakable freshness. These hops were very clean and dried out the malt nicely.

I don’t generally go bananas over beer, but I really dig this one. It really hits the spot and is very well balanced. The fresh taste made it all that much more enjoyable. Go get this while you can! (more…)

Beer Review #104 Springfling Ale

Blue Point Brewing Company out of Patchogue, New York has been in my head quite a bit recently. I had never heard of the brewery until The Brewery Show did a episode about them towards the beginning of April. Since then I have noticed many of their brews popping in in local stores. I generally tend to grab seasonal beers before any other type, so I my introduction to Blue Point is Springfling Ale.

The beer’s label says that it is a copper ale, but I have seen other classifications have it as an American Pale Ale. Regardless of the classification, this ale pours a nice copper color (shocker) and comes with a nice white head. The nose has some bright hops with hints of grapefruit. There is some maltiness in there as well with hints of caramel and bread.

On the first taste the hops come in strongly, freshly, and well balanced. I didn’t get a ton of unique malt flavor, but the hops and malt were in a wonderful marriage with each other. I believe they use an English-style ale yeast for this beer because I noticed some slight fruity dryness in the flavors as well. Generally, this flavor doesn’t come from American ale yeast.

This beer is pretty solid. It isn’t unique in any way, but it is a good beer. It also comes in at 6% ABV so it doesn’t rock your shocks off. I am looking forward to seeing what else this brewery offers since my test for a good brewery generally starts at a pale ale, but that is a post for another time. (more…)

Beer Review #102 Aprihop

Aprihop is a spring seasonal beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery located in Milton, Delaware. This is one of the fest seasonal beers that they product that I have never had, so when I saw it in the store recently, I grabbed it up. Dogfish has this to say about their beer:

Aprihop is our fruit beer for hopheads!

It is an American IPA brewed with Pilsner and Crystal malts massively hopped in in the continuous fashion. The flavor is complemented by the addition of Apricots.

After fermentation the beer is dry hopped with irresponsible amounts of Amarillo hops. The beer is hoppy in the aroma with the apricots playing a supporting complimentary role.

It sounded like an interesting combination to me. Generally I’m not a fan of fruit beers, but I have never had an IPA version of a fruit beer. The bottle clearly says “an Indian Pale Ale brewed with real apricots.” I enjoy their Punkin Ale so I figure that this beer will also be a nice balance. The beer pours a ruby/amber color and comes with a slightly off-white head. The nose has a faint hoppy odor but it is very strong on the apricots.

On the first taste the apricots really hit home. They are then followed by a slight roasted malt flavor and then the hops kick in. It was actually a very nice progression. The hops and apricots mix wonderfully in the aftertaste as well. After drinking this beer for a bit of time, the apricots fade out of taste and the hops really start to come out. I thought this beer was pretty good but the apricots do get old quickly. Aprihop comes in at 7% ABV and it was a nice attempt at something that hasn’t really been done before. I’m not a huge fan of fruit beers but  I found this to be one of the more drinkable ones out there. (more…)

Beer Review #80 Old Fezziweg

Samuel Adam’s is probably the largest brewery in the World who puts out seasonal beers. They don’t only put out one seasonal beer, but generally several. Winter time usually brings out their Winter Lager, but Old Fezziweg is another seasonal favorite from Boston Beer Company. This beer is a traditional winter warmer and comes in at 5.9% ABV. It is also brewed with several spices including ginger, cinnamon, and orange peel. Those spices and ingredients are typical of a winter warmer style beer, particularly an English version of the beer.

Old Fezziweg pours a dark ruby color with a thin tan head. It is clear, but dark enough to not alert you to the brewer’s skill. The nose is a bit flat, but there is some ginger in there. I also picked up a bit of heat, but it could of been from the spices. Overall there isn’t a lot going on upon first inspection. The taste is malty with some slight roast. The ginger again presents itself but I was unable to really find the other spices. There was a bit of a bite on the end, but I attributed it more to hops than spice.

This ale is pretty drinkable but it isn’t packed with flavor. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really suit my palette. I think this beer is nice for newcomers to craft beer because it is very reserved in terms of flavor. As a “seasoned” craft beer drinker I thought this one was a bit too “mass produced” feeling. It is a good beer, but I wanted more of everything (flavor, aroma, aftertaste, etc..) from it. Pick it up and try for yourself. It is a good starting point for beers of the style but there are other examples out there. (more…)

Beer Review #73 Otter Creek Oktoberfest

I’ve never had an Otter Creek beer before, but I can’t help but pick up seasonal beers when I see them. Otter Creek Brewing Company is located in Middlebury, Vermont and their website doesn’t give much more detail on the company other than that. Doing a bit more research I found their earliest beer that is still in production was originally made in 1991. Our beer for today made its first appearance in 1995.  This Oktoberfest does not come in the normal blue and white diamonds, instead the bottle’s label is orange and has the Otter Creek crest prominently displayed.

The beer pours a nice orange color white a thin off-white head. The clarity is there as well. On the nose I got some slight caramel sweetness. There is no heat on the nose but there is a bit of hops. I also picked up a slight sulfur smell on the nose. I get sulfur on lager beers on a regular basis, but in Oktoberfest style beers the malt usually drowns it out.

The taste is surprisingly not malty at all. The main thing you notice is a harsh/strange ending in the beer. The sulfur is on the back-end as well and that might be contributing to the strange ending. There are a fair amount of hops in this beer, much more than what I would expect in a traditional Oktoberfest. Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest comes in at a very light 4.5% ABV. You could easily down a few of these and not have to worry about getting far gone. If this beer didn’t have the strange ending it does, it would be much more drinkable. I would say that there are much better examples of Oktoberfest beers out there. I’m not going to be purchasing this beer again next year. (more…)