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Beer Review #261 The Gift

01-18-03I have a seasonal beer (gasp!) up for review today. If you remember, I went a full year without purposely seeking out seasonable beers, and I’m ready to stop limiting my choices. I saw The Gift a few weeks ago and picked up a few bottles. The Gift is brewed by Starr Hill Brewery of Crozet, Va. The bottle says that it is a Bock, but their website narrows it down a bit more and calls it a Hellerbock. I honestly have no idea what the difference is.

The Gift pours a nice clear orange color and has a quickly fading, thin white head. The nose is very lager. It has some bready notes followed by some slight sulfur. Other than that, there really isn’t a lot going on in the nose department.

On the first taste I really noticed the malt flavors. It has a nice honey-like sweetness that is mixed with a toasty flavor. The combination is time tested and works wonderfully. There are some hops that come in towards the end but they are not crisp. The hops do not remove the sweetness entirely, but instead just help cut it down a bit to better balance the beer. The sweetness is a bit much for me personally.

I enjoyed this beer. I would like this beer to be a little less The Cranberries and linger a less then it does. It’s a solid example of a Bock and I assume a Hellerbock. I’m kind of a beer nerd if you haven’t noticed (post #584 on this site) but I am not familiar with the Hellerbock style. This beer makes me want to do some more research and I thank Starr Hill for alerting me to something that I didn’t know existed. (more…)

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…)