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12-18-00

Beer Review #311 G-Thing

12-18-03The good folks over at Magic Hat Brewing Company recently sent me a few samples of their winter beers. The first was a return to the line-up in Heart of Darkness. I still really enjoy that beer and I’ve actually gone to seek out more on my own accord. Today’s beer is named G-Thing. When I read the label my first thought was “that’s an awesome gingerbread man” and my second though, well more of a song, was Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg’s Ain’t Nothing But A G Thang. Yup, I went there.

G-Thing pours a nice deep dark brown that I half expected in a winter beer. There is a slight tan-ish head, but not a ton going on. The note of this beer is really interesting. You obviously get some ginger, and a good dose of it. Being the ginger there are some really nice bready notes. This beer surprised me in it’s ability to capture as much malt as it did. I wasn’t expecting that much malt to come through when compared to the ginger.

On the first taste I was very open to the malt flavors. They flowed in nicely and exhibited some nice dark caramels and bread notes. The ginger spice comes in about halfway through the drink and makes for a wonderful addition. I will full admit that I’m not much of a ginger fan, but this beer stays in balance. I didn’t get much in the way of hops but the beer finishes dry. It reminds me of an English style beer in that the malt and body are there until the end.

It was pretty easy to drink this beer quickly. It was refreshing and had a nice mix of flavors to stay interesting as it warmed. With the holidays quickly approaching this beer would make for a nice drinker during a holiday party. With the cold weather that we have had here on the east coast, I have found myself turning to this style of beer. I think it fits the season nicely and fulfills the goals of a seasonal beer.

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 #263 Secret Spot Winter Ale

01-22-03We had a nice bit of snow last night here in northern Delaware, and by nice I mean a coating. It’s been a pretty dry winter thus far and I’m not happy about it. Secret Spot Winter Ale boasts a snowboarder on the logo and screams snowy winter. Brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company this beer is going to get snow to me. The weather works that way right? No? Crap.

Secret Spot pours a nice orange copper color and has a thin white head. The nose has a slight bit of citrus hops. As I took a deeper breath of the beer I found a lot of malt notes. You have your typical malt flavors along with a subtle toasty and bready odor.

On the first taste I got a really nice malt flavor. There are some light caramels but mainly a standard malt backbone. The hops then come in an provide a really nice citrus flavor. The hops are very clean and don’t bite like traditional hops. They gently mix in with the malt and slowly make themselves more apparent. The transition is very smooth and enjoyable.

For a normal beer I really like this one. It’s drinkable and a bit different. The hop transition is so smooth that it added a new layer of intrigue for me. This beer does not say winter ale to me. It’s no robust in any way and it is not a stick to your ribs kind of beer. As a beer I like it, but as a winter beer it doesn’t measure up. Change up the release time of this one to the spring and I think you have a real winner. (more…)

Beer Review #178 Old Man Winter Ale

I finally finished with the beers specifically labeled as “Christmas Ales” and I am now on to some winter beers. As I mentioned previously, I am going to cut off or seriously limit myself from seasonal beers after my current batch of winter beers is done. Anyway, today’s winter beer comes from Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York. As with a lot of breweries I write about, I have had a number of their beers, but I haven’t had a chance to get all of my reviews up on the site yet. I have generally liked everything that I have tried from this brewery, so they have that going for them.

Old Man Winter Ale pours a nice amber color and has a white head to accompany the amber liquid. The nose has a bit of citrus hops, but the malt really shines here. There is some of the normal caramel sweetness but also a nice grainy flavor that I really enjoyed.

This beer has a nice malt flavor up front with those classic caramels returning. I didn’t get any of the grainy notes from the nose upon tasting this one. The citrus hops in the nose follow through to the flavor but they also flood into a slightly piney hop. The pine flavor then coats the tongue, but doesn’t stay for too long as a spicier hops flavor comes in. Right at the end some biscuit and dried fruit come in to round out the beer.

I really liked this one. It was an interesting mix of malt and hops that lead to an enjoyable drink. I also love when a brewery combines ingredients in a way that makes them taste different than they normally would. Old Man Winter Ale only uses two types of malt and three different types of hops. As a homebrewer, the lack of malt variety is encouraging since a lot of people get complexity by adding tons of different types of malts to their beers. Well done Southern Tier, I will be grabbing some more of this beer shortly. (more…)

Beer Review #176 Wreck the Halls

My second “Christmas” beer that I am reviewing after Christmas comes from Full Sail Brewing Company  of Hood River, Oregon. I have had a number of their beers in the past and even got to visit one of their locations on my honeymoon in Portland. In my eyes they are one of the “classic” northwestern craft breweries along with Rogue Ales, Pyramid, and a few others.Wreck the Halls is a blend of an American IPA and a Winter Warmer. The bottle displays, “22 ounces of hoppy holiday ale.” That was all I needed to grab up this bottle.

Wreck the Hall pours a cloudy orange color with a bit of a reddish hue. There is a thin white head that sits on top of the liquid but it does not cling to the glass as it is being drank. The nose is hoppy as you would excpect with an American IPA mix. The hops are almost entirely citrus smelling and they are very bright. I did get a bit of background malt, but the hops are the shinning star for the nose of this beer.

On my first taste there was some nice caramel malt up front quickly followed by citrus hops. The first variant of hops fades into a piney hop flavor. The pine flavor really sits on the tongue for a long time and doesn’t get kicked out by any other flavor.

This is a pretty good IPA as the malt balances out the hops pretty nicely. I don’t really see a Winter Warmer in any way, shape, or form in this beer; just a solid IPA. The only thing that I don’t like about this beer is the fact that the pine flavored hops just sit and sit on your tongue. I’m not a big fan of pine hops and I generally like them to be kicked out by carbonation or something else. The bright hops from the nose gave me the impression that the hops would be crisp in flavor as well, but they really just linger. This is still a good beer, but it is not my style of an IPA, maybe it is because I am from the east coast. (more…)