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Beer Review #192 Mighty Oak Ale

In my last beer review I took a look at Sam Adam’s new spring seasonal. In this review and the next I will look at the other two new beers in their Variety Pack. Boston Beer Company, a.k.a Sam Adams, seemingly puts new beers out all of the time. Might Oak Ale is a new one for them. It was the winner of this year’s Beer Lover’s Choice contest. There are some really good past winners from the contest, most notably Revolutionary Rye Ale and Noble Pils. I’m over the whole “oaking” thing, but I was interested to see what Sam Adams did with this one.

Mighty Oak pours a nice amber color and comes with a thin white head. The nose is very malty with a healthy dose of caramel. I got some slight vanilla in there as well. I didn’t find any hop odors to make note of. I was expected something a bit more earthy smelling, but this one was more of a malt bomb than anything.

The nose carries through to the taste as there is lots of caramel and some vanilla upfront. I again didn’t get any hops to make note of in the flavor world. There was some distant oak flavor, but nothing to write home about. I think they went a little too understated with the oak on this one. This beer is a mainly malt with some hints of complexity, but this isn’t one of my favorite. I’m not sure if this one will stay in a normal rotation for very long. Unlike the two previously mentioned winners, I wouldn’t get this one again. (more…)

Beer Review #179 Dark Intrigue

It is time for the long awaited Dark Intrigue beer review. If you remember I had to wait in line for three hours in order to secure a few bottles of this beer. More on that in a coming post. Dark Intrigue is brewed by Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, PA and is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King Stout (which is wonderful). This is the second, and reportedly, last batch that they will ever do of this beer do to its intense space requirements. Somehow I think we will see this beer again at some point in the not too distant future.

The bottle reads, “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels,” and it has a recommendation of aging for up to five years as well. Clearly I didn’t give it much time to age at all. Dark Intrigue pours a chocolaty black color and has a deep, dark tan head. The nose is decidedly bourbon with some heat mixed in. There are some bits of roasted malt as well. I didn’t get any hops as I think they were wiped out by the bourbon.

On my first taste I was greeted with a rich and complex mix of flavors. To begin with there is chocolate and roasted flavors up front. The malt tastes are then pushed out by lots of bourbon and heat. There is some slight vanilla in there as well. While I didn’t get any hops in the nose, they are there in the taste, but only just enough to balance out the malt a bit. They did provide a nice spiciness that brings a much needed break from malt, bourbon, and heat. This beer is very thick and creamy and improves as it warms.

Victory really came up with a very complex beer here. It is a big high in the heat department but I imagine that aging this beer for a period long than what I did would eliminate those flavors. I really wish that I had another few bottles to put away to see how the beer changes over time. If you were one of the lucky few to get this beer, enjoy it while you have it, you are in for a treat. (more…)

Beer Review #142 The Greater Pumpkin

I mentioned that I went to the beer store looking for pumpkin ales and that I found one from Clipper City Brewing Company. What I didn’t mention is that I actually bought two pumpkin ales from Clipper City Brewing Company. The Great Pumpkin is another imperial pumpkin ale, but this time it is aged in bourbon barrels. They also kicked it up a percentage point, to 9% ABV, just for fun. I’d never had pumpkins and bourbon before, so this was an interesting experience.

The Greater Pumpkin pours a nice orange color. It is not as burnt looking as its predecessor. The white head and clear beer as still there though. The nose is a mix of bourbon and bourbon. Seriously this thing smells boozy and wonderful. There isn’t much else but as it warms there is some slight oak notes that appear in the nose.

On the taste I found that the spices present in the last beer were toned way down in this one. Either that or they were covered up by some other flavors. The bourbon is strongly in there and mixes nicely with the pumpkin flavors. There is a fair amount of heat in there as well and some vanilla. It is a weird combination of flavors but somehow it works out nicely.

For a beer labeled “The Greater Pumpkin,” I actually liked the previous beer more. This one doesn’t have enough pumpkin and has too much bourbon. The heat is more noticeable than the last beer as well. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable beer, but it is not one that you can drink a lot of. Again, grab it while you can as I don’t think these will be sticking around too long. (more…)

Beer Review #134 Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

Now if that isn’t one of the longest names for a beer ever I don’t know what is. Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter is brewed by Otter Creek Brewing of Middlebury, Vermont. The actual brewer of this beer is a bit of a mystery to me. Wolaver’s Organic Brewing is the brewery that this beer is named for, but I believe that it is owned by Otter Creek. Perhaps it is a separate brand of Otter Creek, kind of like how Blue Moon Brewing Company is a subset of Coors. Nomenclature aside, I tried their Oktoberfest last year and wasn’t a big fan of it, but I have had a few other beers of theirs and enjoyed them quite a bit.

Alt Gracia Coffee Porter is a certified organic beer and the label says it is, “brewed with coffee and vanilla beans.” Shocking, a coffee beer brewed with coffee! This porter pours a nice black color and has a thin tan head. I couldn’t tell if it was clear or not since it was so dark but clarity don’t make a whole hill of beans to me. Call it a homebrewer’s mentality. The nose has lots of rick coffee coming off of it. There is some dark bitter chocolate in there as well. The vanilla does make an appearance, but it isn’t overly strong. Thank God. Overall I would describe the smell of this beer as “earthy.”

On the first taste I was surprised at how smooth this beer is. All of the components flow nicely and evenly. There is a good amount of coffee and chocolate but they are not overpowering in anyway. This beer still has a porter feel. When I was drinking this porter I felt like it had a “milk shake” quality to it. I’m not sure how to describe that feeling, but drinking this beer reminded me of a watery milk shake. Chocolate.

This beer was wonderfully drinkable. Lots of bold flavors but they stayed restrained enough as to not take over or take away from the rest of the beer. This porter comes in at 5% ABV and I think it could be a great beer to have on the coming crisp fall days. If you are a fan of coffee beersĀ  I think this one could be right up your ally. (more…)


River Horse Brewing Company Tripel Horse Beer Review

09-06-04-06I have recently been getting into Belgians and River Horse Brewing Company’s Tripel Horse called to me at the six pack store. First off, I love the packaging. River Horse has funky packaging that mixes some old images with new graphic design, and I just love it. All of there beer labels have something in common but are also very distinct. That aside, lets get onto the beer.

09-06-04-05This is what the brewery has to say about their beer:

Notice a unique aromatic nose with a hint of vanilla esters, which comes from the Belgian ale yeast. Tripel Horse has a big body and rich mouth feel and finishes mostly dry with only a touch of sweetness. If you shy from some of the sweeter Belgian ales, we think you will enjoy this one. The palate improves with age, so keep some on hand and you can ride Tripel Horse down a new path with each opened bottle.

This beer rocking in at 10% which is not surprising for a Tripel. Right on the nose of the beer you get the yeast spicyness and alcohol. It pours an orangy color with a little brown. My camera does not acurarlty replicate the color. The beer is hazy when help up to the light, as expected, and you can see little particles floating throughout the beer, also as expected. It pours with a minimal amount of head that lingers around the side of the glass for the whole drink.

09-06-04-04On first taste there is an explosion of flavor. The yeast spice is obvious, but there is a ton of malt and a hint of sweetness. The back end of the drink is alcohol, but it isn’t super noticeable if you aren’t looking for it. It finishes dry in your mouth and leaves you wanting more. This beer is exactly what I wanted from a Tripel, it was high in alcohol, big in flavor, and had that Belgian wonderfulness that I have been craving. A few years ago I would of hated this beer, but my pallet has grown and gotten much better.

They say to age this beer as it will change a lot over time. I bought a six pack and drank the six pack within a week or so. It was just that good.