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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 #157 Sam Adams Holiday Porter

Another day, another beer from Boston Beer Company. I recently purchased Sam Adam’s Winter Seasonal pack and in addition to the normal Boston Lager and Winter Lager they had a few other fun seasonal beers. I reviewed their Old Fezziweg early last year, but I haven’t had a chance to partake in their other winter beers. I will spend the remainder of the week taking a look at the other three beers in the variety pack.

Today’s beer is Boston Beer’s Holiday Porter. A porter is a perfect beer for this time of year. They generally are not heavy, but provide some solid malt and roasty character that can warm you up on a cold night. The beer pours a deep ruby color and has a light tan head. The nose is packed with smell. I found lots of caramel and toffee, which was then followed by some coffee notes. There are some slight noble hops in there as well. Finally I found some slight chocolate notes that were really nice.

Just as the nose promised, this beer is complex and deep. There is a lot of rich caramel with some solid chocolate. There is a nice interaction between the hops and malt where the malt leads in, is cut a bit by the hops, but still is a big player. As soon as you think that this beer isn’t going to have a hop kick to balance it out, the dry finish comes in and takes care of any sweetness.

I really liked this one. I am generally not super impressed with porters, but I enjoyed this one greatly. I would love to have this on a blustery November night while sitting with a good book. For such a complex beer, this one also comes off as being simple. It really opens up on each sip. (more…)

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 #89 Stoudt’s Winter Ale

Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of my local favorites. I reviewed their Oktoberfest last last year and enjoyed it a good bit. Their Winter Ale is another beer that has a different recipe each year, much like Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale. I’ve had the 2008 and 2009 versions of this ale and enjoyed them very much. This year’s version comes in a little lighter in ABV, sitting at 6.0%.

Amber is the color that this ale pours. It is perfectly clear and has a nice off-white head that goes along with it. The nose is nice and complex. It is hoppy with some slight heat, which is surprising for a 6.0% beer. I got a lot of dried fruit with some hidden caramel notes. There is also a nice roasty aroma that sits in the background. The more this beer warms up the more complex it gets.

The taste is very malty upfront, which is something that Stoudt’s does with all of their winter beers. There is some heat in the flavor as well. The end was hoppy and spicy. I’m not sure if the spice came from the hops or if it was added in from a third party source. The malty flavor is pretty close to what the nose has to offer. This beer is pretty thick as well. I found it pretty drinkable and it serves as a good example of a Stoudt’s beer. I might be a bit biased, but I haven’t had a bad beer from this brewery, ever. (more…)

Beer Review #79 First Snow Ale

I am way behind on beer reviews, in fact, I had to save some of the fall beers for next year since it seems a bit silly to be posting pumpkin beers at this point in the year. I am committed to knocking out all of the winter beers before the winter actaully ends this year. On my last trip to State Line Liquors I picked up a hoard of winter beers. In fact I grabbed every winter beer I could find with the exception of some pricey 750 ml Belgian bottles.  First Snow Ale by RJ Rockers Brewing Company was one of the last beers I saw.

This beer is brewed in Spartanburg, South Carolina and I’ve never heard of the brewery before so I was eager/leery of trying it. It seems fitting to post this tonight as snow is falling outside of my window. This winter offering pours a nice amber color and is accompanied by a fluffy, off-white head.  It is crystal clear as I would of expected. The label says that honey and spices are used in the brewing of this beer. I noticed some honey sweetness on the nose, but no spices. I did get some slight grapefruit from the hops.

On the first taste I was surprised by the complexity of the beer. The spices tingle the tongue and the flavor is not nearly as hoppy as the nose suggests. There was also some nice bread notes to accompany the overall flavor. I was very happy with this purchase. First Snow Ale comes in at 6% ABV so it doesn’t rock your socks off, but it is a solid beer. I could see myself drinking this year round. It was refreshing and well balanced. I would recommend this beer to you if you see it. (more…)