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01-20-00

Beer Review #313 Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale

01-20-03Since I haven’t been posting too much in the past few months thanks to life, I have a solid backlog of beer reviews to get up. This beer goes back to the early fall, while the leaves were still on the trees and I remembered what warmth felt like. Seriously, this winter is brutal. Today’s beer review comes from my favorite up and coming (although they may have arrived at this point) brewery, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They have a Migration Series of beers that are always interesting. When I saw a year old bottle of Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale at the beer store, I grabbed it up. I was lucky too, because before I left the store they were out. Such is the life and luck of a beer drinker.

This beer pours a nice burnt orange color with a slightly off-white head. Despite what my pictures show, this beer is clear. The nose is full of wine aromas. It is dry and “wine-grapy.” There is a slight heat to it which caught me off guard as this beer comes in at only 7.2%. I didn’t get a lot of barrel character on the nose nor did I get any bugs. The bottle says “a Belgian style ale aged in oak chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces.” I did get a few muted Belgian spices on the last whiff.

On the first taste I was hit by lots of Belgian flavors. There are some nice peppery notes along with the typical helping of Belgian spices. There is a great sweetness to this beer. It’s sweet, almost candy-like, in how it presents itself. As the sweetness comes in the wine character from the barrels comes in. It has a strong chardonnay flavor that dries out things nicely. The beer ends on a mix of Belgian spices and white wine.

This is a really interesting beer that I’m not sure if I dig or dislike. It reminds me a bit of my initial feelings on White Monkey. I only had one 750 ml of this beer and I feel that I would really begin to appreciate it after a second bottle. Looking back at my notes, it’s clear that I enjoyed this beer, but was caught off guard with it. I’m not a wine guy by any means and this beer strongly features something that I’m not familiar with. I’m a big fan of the Migration Series from Evo and I will continue to enjoy their experiments. (more…)

Beer Review #264 Winter Ale

01-24-03After my last experience with Weyerbacher Brewing Company I made it a point to go out and try more of their beer. Since it is FREAKING COLD OUT, a winter ale seemed appropriate. While this beer’s label reminds me more of Christmas, I was still happy to see the sight of snow. At 5.6% this beer is on the low end for the normally high alcohol winter beers.

Winter Ale pours a nice brown to dark caramel color. It’s wonderfully clear and it looks wonderful in the light. The light tan head that comes with the pour quickly fades to just a thin layer. The nose is packed with rich malt. In particular I noticed lots of caramels and toffee. There are some bread tones in there as well. Finally, a winter beer that smells like a winter beer!

The taste follows what the nose promises. On my first taste I get lots of caramels and sweetness up front. There is a flat bitterness on the back end that was nondescript. The bitterness does not totally balance this one out and it stays a little sweet. The beer finishes with a note of bread, which I always enjoy. What I did find interesting in this beer is that it tingles on the back of the tongue.

This beer is more along the lines of what I think of when I try a winter beer. Rich and malty and a slow sipper. It’s not packed with alcohol and that’s cool in my book. I really like a malty, fully flavored beer in the winter. It just gives you a warm, full feeling that is enjoyable when it is FREAKING COLD OUT. (more…)

Beer Review #262 Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale

01-20-02Dogfish Head recently rolled out a new beer in their Ancient Ale series of beers; Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. I usually have a hard time saying no to a new beer from Dogfish Head. They do such a great job of making you want their beer. The results are usually pretty good but there have been a few clunkers in there. According to the bottle this beer is “an ancient ale brewed with honey, hazelnut flour, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice, and pomegranates.” It also comes in at 8.5% ABV. I have no idea what the majority of those things taste like, but it does sound interesting.

Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale pours a copper color with a reddish hue. It has a giant off-white head on the initial pour that quickly fades down to just a thin layer. The nose is very sweet. There isn’t an heat to be found but there are lots of fruits. The raisins and pomegranates that are listed in the ingredient list come out big time in the nose. I find that a lot of these ancient ales tend to have similar noses as grapes/raisins are a typical ingredient.

The sweetness found in the nose continues through to the taste. This beer is very sweet upfront. It is then followed by a slight spicy flavor that fades into the fruit flavors found in the nose. There is a wheaty characteristic that flows through the whole beer. This ale ends on a bready, earthy note. I was really surprised that I didn’t get any heat in this beer. Usually at 8.5% you start to get a hint that the beer is high alcohol when it warms, but not in this beer.

This is one of the beer beers that Dogfish Head has put out in awhile. It has solid flavors and is very balanced. I really thought that it was going to be over the top sweet, but it came down and ended up being very nice. I really like beers that capture an earthy quality and this beer has it. I’m not going to be grabbing another one of these as the price tag ($15) is a bit too high for me, but it is a super enjoyable beer. (more…)

Beer Review #167 Lagunitas Maximus

This will be my first review of a Lagunitas Brewing Company beer on this site. I have enjoyed a few of their beers over the years but sadly this is the first time I’ll be writing about one of them┬áLagunitas Brewing Company is located in Petaluma, California which is about an hour north for San Fransisco. Those Californian’s are known for their love of hops and Lagunitas Maximus officially comes in as a double IPA. I’ve had good and bad experiences with double IPAs in the past, so this was more of in impulse buy than anything.

Maximus pours a nice burnt orange color with a slight bit of haze in the glass. There is a fluffy white head protecting the liquid underneath. The nose isn’t as loaded with hops as I expected. There are surely there, but other odors come out as well. I found the nose to be very candy-like and sweet. The grapefruit hops helped balance out the sweetness in the smell, but it was still pretty evident. I also got a little heat, which is to be excepted for an 8.2% beer.

On my first taste I was pleasantly surprised that there was a forward flavor. Before I got to the hops or any real body, there was a good amount of sweetness. The hops then build in, but do so nicely. They don’t bite, but build. The hops I found to be slightly grass and piney. They didn’t have a strong flavor in any direction, but seemed to be a bit more subdued for a beer like this. The heat in the nose could be found on the back-end of this one.

I found myself liking this double IPA. The hops are very smooth and don’t “rip your face off.” My only problem is that it gets a little to boozy for me as it warms but I guess that is going to happen in a high alcohol beer. (more…)

Beer Review #65 Alamo Golden Ale

I have a few Texas based beer reviews left to do before I can say that I am totally done with the state. This beer comes from Real Ale Brewing Company out of Blanco, Texas which is about an hour north of San Antonio. I am a bit confused about the beer though, as the packaging said it was made by Real Ale, but everything on the internet points to the Alamo Beer Company as the creator of the beer. Any help on figuring that bit out would be appreciated.

Alamo Golden Ale pours a straw to golden color, as expected. It is crystal clear and has a nice soapy white head. The nose has a slight malt sweetness and a hint of biscuit as well. There is a slight hop end but nothing overpowering. With a beer titled “Golden Ale” I didn’t expect a lot on the nose of flavor, but there were things that you could gather from both areas.

The taste is sweet and slightly fruity. There is also a bit of lemon in there as well. The back-end of the beer is very crisp and has a nice biscuity aftertaste. This beer isn’t throwing flavor at you, but it has some delicate flavors that work well in it. It sounds weird to say what I am about to type, but the carbonation adds a ton to this beer. It was just perfect for the beer. I don’t know what it was, but the carbonation made this beer tremendously enjoyable.

Alamo Golden Ale is super drinkable. It is on the light end with everything, so a seasoned craft beer drinker might not fall in love, but I enjoyed it. It is a great beer for a hot summer day, like those in Texas. I actually drank this beer while sitting under a covered porch of a 100+ day in Lubbock, and it hit the spot. The bottle and packaging have the following two things to say about the beer; “brewed with a fiercely independent spirit” and that it has a “smooth, almost velvety finish.” All I know is that it hits the spot on a hot day. (more…)