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Beer Review #98 Grand Cru Winter Reserve

I have three winter beers to review before Spring hits and till the March Brewness starts. Today’s review comes from Flying Fish Brewing Company of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. This beer has one heck of a name with it, and the packaging offers little explanation. The bottle hints at what is sure to be inside, saying, “bottle conditioned Belgian style ale.” Sounds wonderful to me.

The ale pours a nice cloudy straw color and has a nice wispy white head sitting on top of it. The nose is full of the normal Belgian spices and also is pretty yeasty. There are some slightly sweet aromas coming from there as well, but nothing overpowering.

The taste is very yeasty. The spices are there but I was surprised but the yeast character to this beer. There is a slight sweetness to it along with some biscuit flavors, but neither are very strong. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy, which I found a bit surprising. Grand Cru Winter Reserve rocks in at 7.2% ABV, but you would never know it from the taste or smell. I found this beer to be very un-winter like. I would love to drink it on a warm spring day, but not the winter. It was a good beer, but another winter beer that lives in the wrong season. (more…)

Beer Review #97 Atwater Winter Bock

I am a big fan of bock style beers so when I saw a winter bock, I had to grab it. The hand with snow covering the fingertips also enticed me towards this selection. Atwater Winter Bock is brewery by Atwater Block Brewery from Detroit, Michigan. I’m not sure if I have ever had a beer from Detroit, but now is as good of a time as any to start. Atwater Block Brewery specializes in German style lagers and specialty ales. The bottle even said the magic words, “high gravity lager” on it.

This winter offering pours a nice deep ruby color and is accompanied by a light tan head. The nose is very pleasant with some slight roasty components to backup the malty front-end. I also got some slight heat, which can be expected in a 7.5% bock like this one.

On the first sip I really got a complex malt flavor. The roasty back-end was there, but it was accompanied by some chocolate and biscuit. The aftertaste almost tasted like a Wendy’s Frosty. Strange, yes. Good, also yes. There was a slight hop bite in there too, but nothing overpowering. Overall I think this one is pretty decent. Nothing that will rock your socks off, but a solid beer. The roasty component is what did it for me. It is so balanced and delicate that it elevated the entire lager. (more…)

Beer Review #96 Harpoon Winter Warmer

Harpoon is one of my go to craft breweries. They make some excellent beer that I really enjoy, particularly in the summer time. Harpoon Brewery is located in two places, Boston, Massachusetts and Windsor, Vermont. I had a buddy who lived near their Boston brewery and told some wonderful stories about the beers they offer in their 100 Barrel Series. If you haven’t heard of it before, Harpoon invites a guest brewer to come in and make any beer they want. They brew 100 barrels of the beer and then never make it again. Needless to say I bought their Winter Warmer when I saw it on the shelves.

The beer pours a clear ruby color and has a slightly off-white head. The nose is strongly filled with nutmeg. So much nutmeg flavor in there that it almost presents itself as a minty odor. The taste has a really malty front-end. There are bits of caramel in there and then the nutmeg hit. They really finish out the beer and add some good flavor. There is some cinnamon in there as well, but the nutmeg really take the cake. It is very smooth but I feel like the spices kind of shine more than the whole beer. Harpoon Winter Warmer comes in at 5.5% ABV so it is sessionable, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Try it out for yourself and see what you think. (more…)

Beer Review #95 Peak Winter Session Ale

I have another beer from Portland, Maine for today’s beer review. I don’t remember this brewery at all from my travels in the northeast, but I am glad that I found them. They make some wonderful beer. I recently picked up a four pack of their Espresso Amber Ale and I suggest you do the same as you see it. Peak Organic Brewing Company makes some wonderful beers and I was thrilled to try their Winter Session Ale.

This winter ale pours an amber color and a slightly off-white head sits on top of the magic below. The beer is classified by the popular beer review sites as a “dark American wheat ale.” I honestly have no idea what that means or what to expect from it. The nose spews grapefruit hops, and that’s it. I guess I see where the American part of the classification comes in.

The taste is surprisingly complex. The nose just hinted that there would be hops, but it hid all of the other flavors. There is a great coffee/roast flavor in the malt of this ale that is paired nicely with a hoppy finish. It is very nicely balanced and a joy to drink. This beer rocks in at a modest 5.0% ABV so you can enjoy quite a few of them before calling it quits. This Peak offering is very complex for a beer that doesn’t offer much in the aroma department. Grab it if you can! (more…)

Beer Review #94 Gearys’ Winter Ale

I first had a D.L. Geary Brewing Company beer when my at the time girlfriend and I were doing a road trip through the northeast. The at the time girlfriend turned into my wife and we still enjoy a good Geary Brewing Company beer from time to time. Our first ale from this company was in Portland, Maine, home of Geary and we had a few others during out trip though the various states of the northeast. I remember them being straightforward beers that delivered on what they promised.

Geary’s Winter Ale was something that I hadn’t had a chance to try on our road trip and I jumped a the chance to try it when I saw it at my local beer store. It pours a deep amber color and comes with a wispy tan head. It is classified as an English IPA, which I though a bit odd, but strangely fitting for a winter beer. The nose didn’t present itself as an IPA, rather as a malty, complex ale. It had some hints of coffee along with some wonderful dried fruit aromas. I didn’t get any noticeable hops from the nose.

On the first taste I was shocked at how much this beer tasted like toffee. I’ve never had a beer that tasted like toffee as much as this beer did. There was some coffee mixed in there as well and it all combined to make a wonderfully balanced ale. I found it to be very enjoyable. My only complaint is that it is a bit on the rich side, so I couldn’t drink a ton of these without having something to breakup the toffee. It comes in at 6.00% ABV so it isn’t overpowering on the alcohol scale. Try it out if you see it, especially if you like malty, sweet beers. (more…)