I hear a bit of press when this beer came out so I decided to pick myself up a bottle. I’ve been waiting for a time to try it and I could think of no better then a day off in the middle of the week (score). Ovila Saison is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and comes corked and caged, a first for a beer that I have had from them. This beer comes in a 7.0% and it is actually a series of beers that Sierra Nevada is undertaking. You can read all about the series here, but basically they are brewing traditional Belgian beers with monks in California. I had no idea monks really existed in the U.S., but cool.
Ovila Saison pours a light orange color with a slight cloud in the middle. There is a generous white head that floats atop the liquid below. On my first smell I was surprised at how flat the nose was. There were some dull Belgian spices in there, but no malt, heat, or anything else to really make note of. Generally I expect a bit more out of the nose of a Saison but there is always room for me to learn more.
A nice smooth malt is the first thing to shine on the first sip of this beer. There are some really good Belgian spices that come in and help finish out the beer. I really have nothing bad to say about how this one tastes. It is super balanced and the spices come in at just the right time. Not only are the spices timed correctly, but they are just strong enough to fully balance out this beer.
I wouldn’t call this one super complex but I might look to it for inspiration when brewing a similar style of beer. I really enjoyed this one. It is everything that I hoped it would be and it is presented in such a nice, clean way. If you see this one around, try it out. This is a poster child for what a Saison should be. Continue reading
I’m not sure how long this beer has been out, but it recently showed up on the shelves of my local beer store and it hasn’t left since it showed up (like a lot beers tend to do). Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico, CA and it is obviously a rye IPA. I’ve had a number of different takes on rye beers (pale ales and doulbe IPAs among others) and I have really liked the extra flavor component that it gives a beer. It imparts a very distinct note to the malt character of a beer that fits perfectly with hops.
Ruthless Rye IPA pours a nice amber color and has an off-white head. The nose is packed with bright hops that leap out of the glass. The hops are full of citrus aromas with some piney smells lingering in the background. There is also a spiciness to the nose. Some people might attribute this to the rye as rye is often said to be spicy in beers, but I think it is more from a mix of hops than anything else. Maybe the rye does impart a smell, but I didn’t notice it enough to make note of.
On my first tasting I was impressed with the amount of malt that comes through on such a hoppy smelling beer. The malt is very nice and slightly sweet with a good amount of rye flavor. The spiciness pops up again but it is slightly different than a hop spice as a spicy hop flavor comes in quickly after the rye flavor departs.
I found this beer to be super drinkable and something that I could have on a regular basis. I plan on getting more so that I can try to construct a homebrew recipe around this beer. I liked it that much. The flavors are very balanced and while the hops are prevalent, they are not the stars of the show. The balance is what is key to this beer and the rye flavor just adds a cherry to the top of this one. Continue reading
Life and Limb is one of the first big collaboration brews done in the industry and it made a lot of noise when it first came out. Life and Limb is brewed by Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and it is a great example of how two industry “giants” (in craft beer terms) can come together and make something great. The beer is brewed with maple syrup from the, “Calagione family farm in Massachusetts and estate barley grown on the Grossman ‘farm’ at the brewery in Chico, CA.” (Source) The name of the beer gets its name in from two parts. 1. Life to represent the yeast used in the making of the beer and 2. Limb the two different breweries and syrups used in the beer. As a side-note, before I dive into this review I just want to note that one of the lights for my lightbox broke when I was trying to get pictures for this beer, heck the non-white background.
Oddly enough, I live in Delaware, home of Dogfish Head, but my version of this beer was brewed by Sierra Nevada. Life and Limb pours a deep brown color and has a fluffy tan colored head to compliment the deep brown nicely. The nose is super malt with lots of chocolate and some slight roast. I also got a little heat from the nose. I didn’t get a lot of hops as the malt really rules the nose, but the hops that were there were very subdued.
On my first taste I got a really nice smack of roasted grain that fades into chocolate. There is also some really rich caramel flavors in there as well. The caramel could also have been a masked version of maple or birch syrup that were added to the beer, but I’m not sure. From my experience with syrups, you don’t get a ton of flavor out of them but rather some easy ABV points. Again the hops were there, but they didn’t bite and they certainty were not a star in this beer. I really liked that these two breweries, which can be a bit hop forward, really resisted using tons of hops and let the malt shine.
There was some slight heat in the flavor of the beer as well, but it was enjoyable. For a 10.2% beer I was surprised that there wasn’t more heat on it. As a beer which presumably has a lot of simple sugars (making for a thinner beer), Life and Limb was really creamy in the mouth. I really liked this one and I am glad that I had the chance to try it. I resisted getting it while I was at the Dogfish Head brewpub in favor of trying more beer, included Limb and Life, the counterpart of this beer. If you can find any bottles of this again, make sure you grab it. I’m not sure if they are still making it or if it was a one time run, but I sure hope they decide to do this beer again soon. Continue reading
As an end of summer trip my wife and I agreed to meet some of my friends for a day at the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewis, Delaware. We decided to head down to the beach a little early so that we could stop by the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to grab some quality food and brews before beaching it up for the day.
We arrived right around 12:30 and somehow found a spot in their parking lot. We decided to eat on the deck because the temperature was in the low eighties and there was a slight breeze. There wasn’t anyone on the deck for the most part either, which is always a plus in my book. To begin with I ordered a Limb and Life, which was delicious. Limb and Life is made from the second runnings of the Life and Limb ale, a collaboration of Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Limb and Life was very refreshing and fully flavored. It had all of the right notes and body to be a dangerously drinkable beer.
Once our drinks came we ordered lunch. My wife went with the “healthy” option and ordered a turkey sandwich of some kind. I went with the indulgence burger, pictured below. Needless to say it was delicious and I am craving another one already.
We also ordered a custom sampler since Smalls, my wife, couldn’t decide on just one beer. I don’t blame her at all for that. Our choices are pictured below.
- Black and Red: I never had this one before and I don’t think I’m going to get it again. The beer is “dry hopped” with mint leaves. I thought it had a very medicinal taste and it was the only beer of the day that we didn’t finish
- Chateau Jiahu: I dig this beer, but my wife digs it more. It has a bubble gum like sweetness and Smalls says it tastes just like candy.
- Midas Touch: Another beer that both my wife and I dig. The grape flavor goes really well with this beer.
- My Antonia: It was hoppier than my wife expected but I really like this Imperial Pilsner.
- 90 Minute IPA: We went on a Monday and they run the beer though the Randall on Mondays. 90 minute was as good as always but I didn’t think that the Randall added a ton to the flavor
After we kicked the sampler we ordered desert. Smalls decided on the Warm Brownie Raison DEtre Sunday. The ice cream is partly made with Raison DEtre. I didn’t care for the ice cream all that much but the brownies were wonderful.
To finish it all up I had a Shelter Pale Ale before meeting my friends. I really like the brewpub in Rehoboth. It is much nicer towards the end of the summer around noon, since the crowds haven’t really hit yet. The outside seating was a big plus. We were under the cover of burlap and hop vines and the table centerpieces were DFH growlers with rope lights inside. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable and I am looking forward to heading back. One final note, Dogfish has the coolest coasters anywhere around.
There are some more pictures if you hit the more button after this sentence. Continue reading
This is another beer that I tried when I was at Max’s Taphouse. It was actually the beer I was drinking while my wife was having her Espresso Amber Ale. This beer is named for Firtz Maytag (rescuer of Anchor Steam) and Ken Grossman (founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company). This was actually a collaboration brew between the two breweries but is mainly brewed by Fritz, brewing on the Sierra brewhouse.
This beer pours a nice black color which pays homage to the early brews the two men brewed when starting their companies. It comes with a slightly tan head and the head is super fluffy. The nose is big and bold; fully of spicy hops and malt.
Just as the nose promised, the flavor follows in a big, bold fashion. There is a nice grainy, maltyness followed by a nice spicy hop ending. The beer flows very naturally which is a hard feat to do with such bold flavors. This beer comes in at an impressive 10.2% ABV and gives a warming feeling all the way down. They labeled this beer as a black barleywine, which is totally appropriate. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. For such a big beer it was very tasty and balanced. I’m sure these are starting to get in short supply so grab one while you can. I really liked it and this beer should age very nicely. Continue reading