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Beer Review #252 Backyard Ale

Not too long ago I reviewed a beer from Flying Dog Brewery and I have yet another one today. I can generally count on seeing a new beer from them every time I visit the beer store. They put out a lot of solid beers along with an amazing variety. They have to rival Dogfish Head in terms of number of different beers produced.

Backyard Ale didn’t have any descriptors on the bottle, but a 7.5% alcohol rating. The beer pours an amber color that matches the label. There is an off-white head that sits firmly on the top through the whole drink. The nose is packed with malt and has a slight smoke to it. I didn’t get any hops, just malt and some smoke.

There is a nice sweetness on the front end. It wasn’t malty or caramely, just sweet. It is then followed by a smoky-sweet back end. The smoke is help in a really nice balance with the sweetness. Unlike some smoked beers that I have had, the smoke isn’t center stage. It fits into the beer nicely and provide a nice flavor additive.

This one wasn’t bad. It took me back to the summer months when I was BBQing in the backyard. The smoke actually goes nicely with the late fall as well. One of my neighbors has a wood burning stove and on cold night the air is full of wood burning goodness. This beer makes we want to sit on the deck and look at the stars while taking in the smokiness.

Beer Review #246 Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

I have yet another new brewery to add to my tasting lineup today in the Starr Hill Brewery. They are located in Crozet, Va and I have wanted to try their beers since the Washington D.C. season of Top Chef. I figure if some World class chefs enjoy the beer (even though it was product placement based) that it must be pretty good. I haven’t seen their products in my neck of the woods until recently and I grabbed a few of their beers.

Boxcar Pumpkin Porter pours a nice dark brown and has an off-white head. I always enjoy seeing a porter that isn’t black, but rather dark brown. In my eyes a porter should be a lighter version of a stout. The two cross in many areas, but you never see a dark brown stout and you can have a dark brown porter. The nose is very porteresk with chocolate and some smoky elements reaching out of the bubbles. I didn’t get any pumpkin or pumpkin spices on the nose.

The taste follows the nose at a “T.” There is a good chocolate malt flavor that runs through the beer and finishes a bit smokey. There wasn’t a hoppy finish but just enough to dry it out a bit. Again, I didn’t get any pumpkin flavor or spices. I don’t know if I just got an old bottle or if the other flavors masked anything that was there.

This was a pretty solid porter but I wouldn’t call it a pumpkin porter. It didn’t have any pumpkin beer qualities. If you would have given me this bottle without a label I would have told you that the beer was a porter. No more, no less. (more…)

Beer Review #172 Anchor Christmas Ale 2011

Happy Christmas Eve everyone. Last year I reviewed Anchor Brewing Company’s 2010 Christmas Ale and since they change the recipe every year, I just had to get it again this year. The brewery, located in San Francisco, California releases a new version of their Christmas Ale every year with the intention of spreading some holiday cheer. A new beer always brings cheer to my life.

Christmas Ale 2011 pours a deep copper to ruby color with a thin off-white head. The nose is strongly herbal with some notes of malt sweetness. There is a slight “twinge” at the end of the nose, but I honestly couldn’t decide what it tasted like.

On the first taste I got some sourness, but as I continued drinking I found that the original sour flavor that I tasted was actually a bit of smoke. The herbal notes are in the beer as well. There wasn’t much in the way of forward malt flavor by I did find some bready notes in there. The slight smoke and herbal notes really dominate the flavor in this beer. The best word that I could use to describe the flavor is earthy as it has a very primal taste to it.

I enjoyed this year’s offering of Anchor Christmas Ale. There are a ton of flavors going on and I really do enjoy trying to pinpoint them all. While this beer has earthy qualities, it is “refined earthy.” Anchor’s beer comes in at 5.5% so you could enjoy a few of these, although I found one at a sitting to be enjoyable. (more…)

09-05-21-02

Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre Beer Review

09-05-21-02I’ve had my fair share of Dogfish Head beers before, their brewery is only two hours away from my house, but they still make me happy. I had the pleasure of finding Raison D’Etre in the local six pack store the other day and I had to buy it. It was one of the few mass produced beers that I have not really had a chance to try. The reading on the bottle makes you want to drink it was well. It says, “a deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisins and a sense of purpose.” Sounded interesting so I went for it.

09-05-21-04Dogfish Heads website claims that this beer is as complex as a fine red wine. I could put quite a few beers in that leauge, but the statement holds true for this beer. It comes in a 8% ABV and 25 IBUs. Raison D’Etre pours a dark red and it is nice and clear. There is a light head, but nothing to write home about. On the nose you get a bit of raisins, wood, and lots of malt.

The first sip was filled with different flavors. There is a lot of malt with notes of wood, some hops, and I got a bit of smoke. The hops were not overpowering at all, just a bit of an accent. The Belgian yeast used on the beer gives a nice little spice on the backend as well. For a higher alochol beer, it is light in mouthfeel and very drinkable. It is also very crisp and refreshing. I enjoyed this beer and would recommend it to anyone who likes interesting beers. Dogfish Head might not be everyone’s’ cup of tea, but I sure did enjoy this example. (more…)