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04-24-00

Beer Review #326 Natural Selection Ale

I can always count on Flying Dog Brewery to have a new beer available when I go to the store. This trip’s selection is Natural Selection Ale, which a a beer brewed by Flying Dog, but made in collaboration with Evolution Craft Brewing Company. I really can’t say enough about both of their breweries and the fact that they joined forces for a beer makes me down right giddy. This beer rocks in at 7.6% ABV and was made in three parts. Part one was the original beer which was then (Part two) taken and aged in cherry wood barrels at Evolution, and finally (Part three) dry hopped with Galaxy hops at Flying Dog. It seems like a lot of work and beer movement to make a beer, but I love when new things are tried out in the craft beer world.

This beer pours a hazy brown color. Hazy might be a bit nice, this beer is downright cloudy. It has a thin off-white head that sticks to the edges of the glass. The nose is nice and hoppy with the right amount of sweetness mixed in. The hops have a bit of a floral punch and really present a full, rich aroma.

On the first04-24-03 taste you get just a slight amount of sweetness in the front but it is quickly followed by a large train of hop bitterness. The hops provide a nice kick of bitterness but also contribute a great citrus/tropical flavor to the beer. There are some hints of wood behind the hop wall, but you really have to look for them. The beer is very clean with a great hop centerpiece. The hops stay through the end of the beer and leave on a clean, but slightly grassy end note.

I very much enjoyed this beer. I thought it was the right amount of different and showcased dry hopping very nicely. I love collaboration brewing and this is a solid example of how it can work out well. Grab em’ if you see them.

 

01-27-00

Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

Beer Review #269 Duchesse De Bourgogne

02-12-03I’m going to warn you, I’m on a Belgian beer kick right now. The next several reviews are going to be Belgian or Belgian inspired beers. Today’s beer is fondly called “The Duchesse” by many. I was first introduced to it when I lived in Texas. The homebrew club would pay someone to make the long trek to cultured areas and get a case of this beer. At $20 bucks a 750 ml bottle, plus gas, it was an expensive treat. Duchesse De Bourgogne is brewed by Brouwerij Verhaeghe. Try to say that a few times. The bottle says, “Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale, a blend of 8 and 18 months old beer following the careful maturation in oak casks.”

The Duchesse pours a nice clean brown color. It has a slightly off-white head that quickly fades. Oddly, as the head fades, large bubble begin to cling to the glass where the beer is. I thought it was because of a dirty glass at first, but I tried a second glass that I had just cleaned and it did the same thing. Odd. The nose has some nice woody smells along with some slight sweetness. The largest aroma coming from the glass is a nice sour note.

On the front end you get a bit of sweetness which is quickly followed by a solid sour flavor. It tasted like sour grapes or sour candy. The woody notes from the nose also follow through to the flavor and add a great level of complexity to the beer. As the beer warms the oak flavors become a bit stronger but they do not throw anything out of balance. This beer is pretty light-handed when it comes to all of the flavors. The sweetness, sourness, and oakiness(?) are all there, but they don’t scream, but rather say mellow.

I can see why people enjoy this beer. The has a great level come complexity while remaining on the lighter end of flavor. I’ve had beers that are much more sour and it often throws them out of balance. I think the real magic of this beer is that it achieves a great complexity without overdoing it on any one particular thing. The balance is fantastic. And at 6% you can have a few of these if you have the cash. My local beer store sells the 750 ml and 11.2 oz bottles in four packs. I generally opt for the four pack. (more…)

Beer Review #254 Angel’s Share Ale

12-18-03I figured that the end of the World is just a few days away so I might want to drink a beer that has some special properties. Angel’s Share Ale by The Lost Abbey, also known as Port Brewing Company, fits the bill. It’s a “malt beverage aged in oak barrels” and comes in at 12.5% ABV. It get’s its name from the fact that distillers call the loss of liquor during barrel conditioning the “angle’s share.” I call it evaporation as the liquid soaks into the wood, but long ago, they didn’t totally get that whole concept. In the end it makes for a nice story, and a good name for a beer that is barrel aged.

Angle’s Share pours a nice ruby/brown color and has a light tan head. The nose has a slight caramel at the start that then goes into a good bit of oak. There is plenty of heat in the mix to let you know this beer has a high alcohol percentage if you didn’t read the bottle. I also got a slight twang in the nose that I couldn’t fully identify. It wasn’t sour, but it kind of was at the same time.

On the first taste the heat just smacks you in the mouth. As you get used to the heat the oak and woody flavors that oak brings with it really start to come out. There are some dark caramel flavors that come out along with some dark fruits. They don’t show up much as the oak and heat are strong in this beer but they are there. It almost doesn’t taste like beer, but an old watered down liquor.

This is a very different beer but it is tasty. I would classify this one as a big boy beer. This is not for the casual craft beer drinker. The flavors are bold and distinct. It’s unlike most beers that I have ever had and puts a new level to barrel aged, high alcohol beers for me. (more…)

Beer Review #252 Backyard Ale

Not too long ago I reviewed a beer from Flying Dog Brewery and I have yet another one today. I can generally count on seeing a new beer from them every time I visit the beer store. They put out a lot of solid beers along with an amazing variety. They have to rival Dogfish Head in terms of number of different beers produced.

Backyard Ale didn’t have any descriptors on the bottle, but a 7.5% alcohol rating. The beer pours an amber color that matches the label. There is an off-white head that sits firmly on the top through the whole drink. The nose is packed with malt and has a slight smoke to it. I didn’t get any hops, just malt and some smoke.

There is a nice sweetness on the front end. It wasn’t malty or caramely, just sweet. It is then followed by a smoky-sweet back end. The smoke is help in a really nice balance with the sweetness. Unlike some smoked beers that I have had, the smoke isn’t center stage. It fits into the beer nicely and provide a nice flavor additive.

This one wasn’t bad. It took me back to the summer months when I was BBQing in the backyard. The smoke actually goes nicely with the late fall as well. One of my neighbors has a wood burning stove and on cold night the air is full of wood burning goodness. This beer makes we want to sit on the deck and look at the stars while taking in the smokiness.