Friday, December 31, 2010

Long Trail Brewing Co. - Long Trail Ale

Purchased From: Sam's Club
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a flute glass

Long Trail Ale is the brewery's namesake beer and an American take on the, slightly obscure, German style 'altbier.' And like Berkshire's Gold Spike Ale, this means I'm going to have to seek out some authentic German altbier to try sooner or later. The beer is a crystal clear mild caramel brown and is very low on visible carbonation in the body. The thin, slightly tinted, head fades away quickly, leaving very little in the way of lacing.

The aroma is very malty and lagery. There's a mild wine-like scent mixed with a hint of woodiness. The fresh sweet malts are prominent in the beer with a very grainy taste and a grass-like freshness. Light hints of raisins round off the beer as it finishes with a pleasant bittering. The beer is very tight and it closes out very crisp and refreshing.

Final Verdict: B

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beerisms 2 - Epic of Gilgamesh

"...he drank the beer-seven jugs!-- 
and became expansive and sang with joy!
He was elated and his face glowed."
-Epic of Gilgamesh circa 3000 B.C.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

De Dolle - Extra Export Stout



Purchased From: Canal's of Hamilton
Serving Type: 11.2 oz. bottle, poured into a mug

You may remember that a little while back I attempted to order this beer at The Half Door in Hartford. They were out at the time and instead I drank the Arabier by De Dolle. It worked out really well, but when I spotted the Stout on the shelf at Canal's I knew I'd have to try it. The Export Stout is a very deep and murky chocolate brown in color with tons of floating yeast. The head is very light with high carbonation. The brown the audibly crackling foam reminds me a lot of the head of root beer.

The nose is huge on caramel with notes of smoke interwoven. Mellowing it out near the end are hints of cracked vanilla bean. The initial taste is rich and chocolatey. It seems to cool of a bit in the middle. A mild alcoholic tinge cuts right through the malts in the mid-palate. The beer finishes with a lingering smoke and leaves a gentle chest-warming heat in the end.

Final Verdict: B

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Weihenstephaner - Korbinian

Purchased From: Canal's of Hamilton
Serving Type: 500 mL bottle, poured into a Pokal glass

Korbinian is a doppelbock from Weihenstephaner and it pours a clear, dark brown body with a mild wine-like glow. The head is a generous size with an airy foam and good retention. The beer is light on lacing, overall, though. The nose is sweet with caramel, backed up by earthy undertones. There are also slight alcoholic fumes rising from the beer.

The crisp carbonation produces an airy mouthfeel to go along with light hopping. The earthy body contains toasted malts that yield to a roasted coffee ground finish. The bitter hops fade nicely and produce a dry finish with a lingering hazelnut. The beer is clean and handles its alcohol well.

As it warms a bit some of the alcohol shows through with a bit of heat. The beer develops a mild Port wine character with a sweetness of dried dark fruits like plums.

Final Verdict: A-

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weihenstephaner - Original Premium



Purchased From: Canal's of Hamilton
Serving Type: 500 mL bottle, poured into a flute glass

Weihenstephaner (Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan) is, as they claim, the world's oldest brewery. I don't have any evidence to back up their claim, but they sure seem old, with the claimed founding date of 1040. The English Wikipedia seems to back up this claim, but the German version tells the tale of a dispute, although briefly. Either way, 1040 is old and this beer is good.

Their Original Premium has a pale, lightly cloudy yellow body with effervescent bubbling. It's got a medium-sized creamy foam head that leaves thin and elegant lacing on the glass. The nose has a distinctive honey sweetness with mild dandelion bitterness and citrusy hints. The carbonation is crisp and clean but understated. Makes for a pleasing mouthfeel. The body is sweet and malty with hints of noble hops. The finish is refreshing and makes this beer very drinkable.

Final Verdict: A-

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Beerisms 1 - A.A. Milne

"Of beer an enthusiast has said that it could never be bad, but that some brands might be better than others..."
-A.A. Milne

Yuengling - Premium Beer



Yuengling - Premium Beer
Purchased From: Cream Ridge Buy-Rite Liquors
Serving Type: 12 oz. twist-off bottle, poured into a Pokal pilsner glass

Yuengling's 'Premium Beer' is an American pale lager cousin of the more popular Yuengling Traditional, which is one of my favorite Amber lagers around. Premium pours a clear golden straw with tons of visible, active carbonation. The beer has a small soapy white foam head that's light on retention, but creates moderate amounts of (somewhat thin) lacing.

The nose is sweet malts with a bit of grassy character and hints of sparkling apple juice. The mouthfeel is initially velvety and very smooth. It finishes up very crisp. The body is made of fairly thin, but sweet, malts with a crisp graininess. There's a light, but fairly inconsquential hoping and a mildly sour finish.

Final Verdict: C-

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Inveralmond Brewery - Santa's Swallie



The Inveralmond Brewery - Santa's Swallie
Purchased From: Canal's of Hamilton
Serving Type: 500 mL bottle, poured into a Becker pint glass

A very timely seasonal brew for today's Christmas Special. Santa's Swallie is a washed-out copper hue with a minor haze. It packs a large yellowy head with craterous fluffy clouds of foam. The beer's got tons of carbonation with bubbles clinging to the bottom of the glass.

The nose is malty and very lagery. There's a slight oak to it along with a yeasty dusting. The flavor is a bit subdued overall. There's minor notes of nutmeg, but the promised cinnamon is seemingly missing. There's a mildly drying bitterness and the finish is slightly watery.

Final Verdict: C+

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lagunitas Brewing Company - Brown Shugga’ Ale



Lagunitas Brewing Company - Brown Shugga’ Ale
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug
Lagunitas’ Brown Shugga’ Ale is exactly what it sounds like, an ale chock full of brown sugar. It pours a light clear brown with cherry hints and a thin, but long-lasting syrupy tan head. The nose is spicy backed up with a crisp hoppiness. There’s also an alcoholic sweetness paired with some candied fruits in the background.
The toasted malts add a molasses character to the beer, but the added brown sugar really makes a palatable impact. The brown sugar, which is added directly to the brew kettle, adds a ton of extra sweetness and extra alcohol. The alcoholic tinge comes in a bit late, riding a wave of sugary sweetness. Both of these components linger on the finish and the alcohol carries a bit of a drying edge.
Final Verdict: B-

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thomas Hooker Brewery - Munich Style Golden Lager



Thomas Hooker Brewery - Munich Style Golden Lager
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a flute glass
Another installment from one of my favorite local breweries is Hooker’s Munich-style lager. This lager pours a hazy golden straw with glowing orange notes. The head is a generous and somewhat creamy white foam. The nose is a sweet clean malt with a mild musty yeast. There’s a light citrusy (primarily oranges) hop aroma as well.
The mouthfeel is chewy and goes along nicely with the distinct graininess of the beer. It’s clear that there’s a ton of Hooker’s fresh light base malt in the beer. Mild, but not acidic white grape juice flavors sneak their way in too. The hops are very mild but add a pleasant accent to the malty flavor. Overall this beer is very crisp and extraordinarily drinkable, however, I would say it doesn’t exactly fall in line with the Helles Lager style. But, it is certainly a great American take.
Final Verdict: B+

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stoudts - Triple



Stoudts - Triple
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a goblet
Stoutds’ Triple is a take on the strong Belgian style and pours a slightly burnt orange body with a heavy white head that doesn’t last for long. The cloudy beer is diffuse with floating yeast. The nose is very sweet with some typical Belgian spices including coriander and some orangey citrus aroma. It smells a bit like a witbier, but with alcoholic fumes evaporating from the glass.
There’s a nice upfront spiciness and the beer is initially sweet, but borders heavily on cloying. The alcohol heat steps in early, and nearly crushes all of the flavor in the beer. After the bombardment the mouthfeel seems to go a bit flat and watery. Both the finish and the aftertaste are alcoholic and unpleasant. One thing most good Belgian Tripels do is mask their considerable alcohol content with malts, hops, and spice. This one can’t seem to come close to that achievement.
Final Verdict: D

Monday, December 20, 2010

Boulder Beer Company - Flashback India-style Brown Ale



Boulder Beer Company - Flashback India-style Brown Ale
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass
Dubbed an India-style Brown Ale, this beer is somewhere in between a dark IPA and a Cascadian Dark Ale. Either way, the hops are prominent. The beer pours a crystal clear almost coppery, amber-brown. The thick craterous head of light foam begins lacing immediate and and is endowed with great staying power. The nose is hoppy, but not overly. Clearly bringing in the ‘India-style.’ Also on the nose are sweet hints of caramel and a sugary rum-like component.
Up front the toasted malts define the beer. They work with a mildly woody flavor, a bit like oak-aged beer or wine. There’s light biscuit flavor in the middle, but the hops come in a bit late to drown them out. Boulder Beer Company adds hops in five stages during the brewing process, but they seem a bit late to the game in this beer.
Final Verdict: B-

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ABV #3: Saranac - Caramel Porter



ABV #3: Saranac - Caramel Porter
This edition of Abbreviated Beer ‘view comes to you from a work Christmas party that I attended on Friday. With an open bar and about 20 beers on tap, I had a lot to choose from and this was one I hadn’t tried before.
Saranac - Caramel Porter
Enjoyed At: Pig’s Eye Pub in Hartford, CT
This porter is lightly smokey but is primarily sweet with caramel and crystalized sugars. Its not drying or especially hoppy, either. There’s not a a whole lot going on as far as depth of flavor goes. This one doesn’t stand out with any distinctive character. I had, what I believe to be, the first tap of the day. That might explain a bit of the astringency, but there was a definite, although minor, artificial tone to it.
Middling, but drinkable.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

BrewDog - 5 A.M. Saint



BrewDog - 5 A.M. Saint
Serving Type: 11.2 oz. bottle, poured into a mug
My first beer from BrewDog, the makers of Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck, among the highest ABV beers in the world. 5 A.M. Saint pours a light, glowing, hazy amber body with moderate visible carbonation. The head is a stiff tanned light foam head with a mild orangey sheen. The very hoppy nose has hints of sticky pine sap and fresh grapefruits.
A crisp graininess pushes its way through the extra hoppy foretaste. There’s a tight tartness like early-season McIntosh apples with a light caramel sweetness. The hops definitely dominate this beer, but they aren’t biting. Finish is clean and carries a slight lingering tart aftertaste. 
Final Verdict: B

Friday, December 17, 2010

City Steam - The Naughty Nurse



City Steam - The Naughty Nurse
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a City Steam Naughty Nurse pint glass
I’ve been hoping to visit local breweries and brewpubs and post about them. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to that yet. If I ever do, City Steam, located in Hartford, CT will definitely be one of them. The beer is totally solid and the food is good as well, although I’ve ordered a few things I wasn’t in love with. Either way, I’m very happy to have a dependable local brewpub within walking distance.
The Naughty Nurse, is, apparently, City Steam’s best selling beer. I think its mostly for the name. Based on the general beer-drinking public, this is doesn’t exactly carry mass-market appeal. The body is a fairly-dark brownish-amber with a mild red glow and a medium-sized frothy head. The nose is full of sweet malts, very light hop aroma, and a cellary tone. The malt has a fresh, almost unfermented scent to it.
This beer is a malt bomb! Malts are front and center, and from my observation, quite off-putting to many drinkers. The crunchy, earthy flavors are the main feature, but seem a bit off. The hops are very light and sneak in with the subtle drying finish. The mouthfeel is quite full, but doesn’t have a ton of tingling carbonation.
Interesting seeing this beer bottled up. The release in six-packs is a very recent development. And, seeing that is brewed and bottled up in Saratoga Springs, NY, this bottle is much different than having it on tap at the brew pub.
Final Verdict: C+

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Local 2



Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Local 2
Serving Type: 750 mL bottle, corked and caged, poured into a snifter
The Local 2 from Brooklyn is the Dark companion to the Local 1. This take on a Belgian Strong Dark Ale is more than competent, like its lighter counterpart. It pours a dark earthen hazy brown with a thin tan head. The retention is modest and there’s not much lacing, but that doesn’t detract. The sticky sweet alcoholic nose is rife with figs and dates and a moderate dusting of yeast.
Dark fruits combine with an alcoholic spiciness to create a pleasant warming feeling that makes this a great cool-weather beer. Raw honey and molasses sugar sweeten the hefty ale nicely. The crisp, dancing carbonation, creates a refreshing mouthfeel despite the domineering character of this beer. Another great entry from Brooklyn Brewery.
Final Verdict: A-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Local 1



Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Local 1
Serving Type: 750 mL bottle with cork & cage, poured into a snifter
I reviewed the collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and G. Schneider & Sohn, but this is the first review of a beer directly from Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Local 1 is the brewery’s interpretation of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, and it’s great.
The hazy pale gold body has a subdued reg blow with a large frothy while head and excellent retention. The lacing on this one is great as well. The nose is characterized by bright fruits and a bit of yeast. A sweetness comes into play with delicate apricots and layers of spice.
The beer has a light and airy mouthfeel, but has a mild alcoholic tinge (9% ABV). The flavor is dense and fruity with peppery tones. Along with the pepper comes a light spicing of clove and bits of ginger. Also present are suggestions of vanilla. Crisp apples accompany a light Champagne-like character. This beer is delicious and saunters out with a dry bitter finish.
Final Verdict: A

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stone Brewing Company - Ruination IPA



Stone Brewing Company - Ruination IPA
Serving Type: 12 oz. screen-printed bottle, poured into a pint glass
Ruination is another brash and confident beer from Stone Brewing Company. This one, an IPA clocking in at over 100 IBUs (International Bittering Units used to measure just how bitter a beer is) is supposed to instantly ruin the drinkers’ palate and turn every other food and drink bland.
Ruination pours a tremendous glowing orange body with a tight sticky foam head of crisp carbonation bubbles. The potent oily hop aroma is pungent to say the least. It’s got the potential to singe your nose hairs if you get too close.
The dancing carbonation is futile to cut through the hops essence. Orange and grapefruit citrus flavors make up the tingling hops that attack the taste buds.This beer is very bitter, but not overboard. It’s quite tasty and full of character, but at over 100 IBUs I thought it would be hoppier.
Am I ruined? I think not. Impressed? Yes.
Final Verdict: A

Monday, December 13, 2010

Berkshire Brewing Company - Gold Spike Ale



Berkshire Brewing Company - Gold Spike Ale
Serving Type: 650 mL ‘bomber’ bottle, poured into a Collins glass pretending to be a Stange
I accidentally bought this bottle of Gold Spike, when intending to pick up a different Berkshire Brewing Company beer. Nonetheless, I was delighted and intrigued to find out that BBC has a take on the obscure German Kölsch style. I’ve had one sip of it before, when a friend of mine ordered it, and after running into this American take, I’ll have to seek out some authentic brews as well.
Gold Spike pours a somewhat pale golden straw with an unexpectedly hazy complexion. The white head is a large light foam that floats effortlessly atop active carbonation. The lacing produced by the beer is great, and comes with an almost metallic sheen. The nose is musty and distinctively lagery with the very faint essence of Noble hops.
The malt flavor here is slick, and again, very lagery. There’s a grassy freshness with a floral mild hop profile. The hops seem to add their perfume, but not their bitterness. To round it all off there’s a pleasant honey sweetness that leads into a mild dandelion aftertaste. Overall this beer is very drinkable and enjoyable, but fairly filling.
Final Verdict: B

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dundee - Stout



Dundee - Stout
Serving Type: 12 oz. twist-off bottle, poured into a mug
Another entry from the folks at Genesee in New York. Their take on a stout is a deep shadowy brown with a hearty tan head with a creamy top. The lacing is abundant and slightly-wispy. Dark chocolate dominates the nose with hints of sweet toffee.
The mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but it’s not too heavy to make this one a session beer. The chocolate flavor is distinct and prevailing, but doesn’t overtake the beer like Samuel Adams’ Chocolate Bock. Caramel sweetness blends nicely with a very mild smokiness and light hints of coffee. They call it “Dark and Drinkable” and they’re right. this could very well be a good introductory stout for those who aren’t crazy about smokiness.
Final Verdict: B-

Saturday, December 11, 2010

McSorley’s - Irish Black Lager



McSorley’s - Irish Black Lager
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass
Interestingly enough McSorley’s, which advertises Latrobe, PA on the front of the label and some sort of publick house in New York City on the back, is actually brewed by Lion Brewery from Wilkes-Barre, PA (over 4 hours from Latrobe). Lion Brewery is also the brewer behind Lionshead Pilsner, a staple of cheap drinking in the region. Lionshead has also made at least one cameo appearance on the television show The Office, set in Scranton.
The Irish Black Lager lives up to its name, with a nearly black body and a thin, tan head. The head lasts a few minutes as it slowly fades away to a small layer on top of the beer. No lacing involved. The coffee aroma sits nicely with toasty lager malts. There’s a light charred scent, but the smoke isn’t pervasive on the nose.
When it comes to taste the smoke makes a much fuller showing. The mouthfeel is fairly creamy, but not too substantial. The flavor is pleasing, but a bit thin. The sweetness of the roasted malts works nicely with the smoke and reminds me a bit of Guinness Draught (if it were carbonated, not nitrogenated).
Final Verdict: B-

Homebrew Series 1 - Making Mead - Part 3 - Racking the Mixture



Homebrew Series 1 - Making Mead
Part 3 - Racking the Mixture
After the yeast has worked some of its magic in the brew pot it was time to move it to a jug to continue fermenting. To do this, I siphoned most of the liquid from the pot using a plastic hose, while making sure to leave as much yeast sediment behind as possible. Unfortunately I was unable to siphon and photograph at the same time.
To the jug I added a few cups of water (boiled and cooled) to reach the neck. Now, the jug is sealed with a rubber stopper and an airlock. The airlock is filled with a liquid (in this case vodka, but water, no-rinse sanitizer, or other similar liquids would do), which allows carbon dioxide (a by-product of fermentation) to escape the jug, without allowing air in.
For the next few days the yeast will continue to work its magic. Once the most vigorous foaming has slowed it will be time to move the jug to the refrigerator. Before then, I’ll have to make some room, I’m not sure there’s even enough space with the shelves in.

See the other parts in the series:
Part 1 - Mixing the Ingredients
Part 2 - Pitching the Yeast, Beginning Fermentation
Part 4 - Final Racking
Part 5 - Bottling and Labeling

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rogue - Dead Guy Ale



Rogue - Dead Guy Ale
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a flute glass
Dead Guy Ale is my first experience with Rogue, although I’ve long-admired their distinctive bottles on shelves in package stores, and perhaps my first Oregonian beer. Dead Guy pours a fuzzy muted orange body with a sticky off-yellow-tinted head of foam. The slow-to-fade head produces large swathes of thick lacing. The nose packs bright fruits like hints of pears as well as considerable citrus. Definite notes of grapefruit on this very hoppy nose. Mild alcoholic esters also float from the top of the beer.
The mouthfeel is smooth and airy. The bitter hops are drying and piney. This definitely seems more like a pale ale than the advertised Maibock. This supposed Maibock is brewed with some German ingredients including Maier Munich malt and Perle hops, but I just don’t recognize the likeness to the style. While the beer is quite good, it is dry and tart and almost singularly hoppy. 
There are notes of earthiness to it and the malts do come through quite late (after a few minutes to warm). I don’t get the breadiness that many have reported tasting and it doesn’t seem quite so complex. This is a totally competent and enjoyable pale ale, but not quite a Maibock, in my opinion.
Final Verdict: B

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dos Equis - Amber



Dos Equis - Amber
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a Pilsner glass
Like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Dos Equis Amber is a vienna lager, a fairly obscure style (these days). The body is a radient amber with a small whitish foam head. There’s not a ton of retention and only light active carbonation. No real lacing here. The nose is fairly complex with vanilla extract, a mildly bready aroma and a mix of apple and white grape juice sweetness.
The mouthfeel is a bit thin and the taste emerges slowly. It’s pleasant overall, but light in general. Fresh fruity malts begin to develop along with apples and a hint of spice near the end. The hops are quite light, but there is a vague Pilsnery finish. As the flavor lingers the sweetness turns into candied cherries, taking it a step further than I would have preferred.
Final Verdict: C

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sierra Nevada - Stout



Sierra Nevada - Stout
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug
Sierra Nevada’s Stout pours an extremely dark body, nearly black. A few hints of glowing red show through in the light, but there’s not much. The tan head is commanding and effervescent. The head recedes at a leisurely pace and leaves large chunky lace on the glass. 
The nose has a big dark chocolate aroma back up with a slightly medicinal vague sweetness and a modest hop profile. The medicinal scent reminds me a bit of milk. The mouthfeel is creamy and velvety smooth but comes with a tingling crispness around the edges. The beer is substantial and somewhat heavy.
Chocolate and coffee are bold up front, owing to the caramel and black malts used in the brewing process. The hops shine nicely in the mid-palate. Slowly a smoke tinge creeps into the aftertaste and lingers nicely. Unlike a lot of strong Stouts, this smokiness doesn’t overtake the entire palate, but works to compliment it nicely.
When it comes to my reviews, it seems that Sierra Nevada is on a streak. They definitely make some quality beer.
Final Verdict: A-

Homebrew Series 1 - Making Mead - Part 2 - Pitching the Yeast, Beginning Fermentation


Homebrew Series 1 - Making Mead
Part 2 - Pitching the Yeast, Beginning Fermentation
On day two, once the mixture has sufficiently cooled its time to strain the spices and add the yeast to begin fermentation. First, I added the yeast to a small bowl of warm water (about 100°F). This begins to activate the dry yeast and gets them ready to be added to the liquid. Next, I poured the mixture through a large funnel, with a screen, into one of my glass jugs.
This strained out a lot (but not all) of the sediment. A lot more will be created by the yeast.


Although it looks good in the jug, this is only an intermediate step. The liquid got added back to the pot where I next added the yeast.


After two days the yeast will have begun to make some progress. Once this is done, I’ll transfer the liquid (trying to leave as much sediment behind) to one of the glass jugs to begin the bulk of fermentation.

See the other parts in this series:
Part 1 - Mixing the Ingredients
Part 3 - Racking the Mixture
Part 4 - Final Racking
Part 5 - Bottling and Labeling

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chimay - Première (Red)



Chimay - Première (Red)
Purchased From: Canal’s Hamilton
Serving Type: 750 mL bottle with cork and cage, poured into a Chimay goblet
I’d like start with a series of anecdotes regarding my history with Chimay, a Trappist brewery located in Baileux (Chimay), Belgium because it’s likely that my story will show the light in which my impression of Chimay is colored, and I think disclosure is the best route to take. However, I’ll save that for the end of the review. It’s sure to be a bit lengthy and will delay the purpose of this post. I will say for now, though, that as biased as I may be, the beers by Chimay are undoubtedly world-class and receive the exclusive Authentic Trappist classification, held by only a few European breweries run by monks. They’re well worth tasting if you haven’t had them before.
Première is a Belgian Dubbel with a murky red-brown body. Yeast sediment floats freely through this unfiltered, unpasteurized beer. The large, airy yellowed-tan head crackles with carbonation and packs nice retention and a constantly refreshing center. The lacing is somewhat modest, but elegant still. 
The sweet aromatic nose smells of fresh grapes, spicy alcohol and musty yeast. While the beer is robust, the mouthfeel remains light and crisp. The musty yeast component is clear in the flavor, but its backed up dutifully by a fruity sweetness like figs. Peppery spice and clove mellow out the sweetness and allow the crunchy and earthy malts to make a solid showing.
The finish is great and the pleasant aftertaste lingers nicely. On top of it all, the Chimay goblet and the custom bottle provide for great visual presentation. The tall bottle, sealed with a cork, features screen printed logos, a raised ‘Abbaye de Scourmont’ and a recently redesigned label. The labeling is nothing extraordinary, but looks a bit better than the previous design.
Final Verdict: A
Personal Anecdote: I first heard of Chimay when I was 18, well below US drinking age. What I heard was essentially that Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue) was extraordinarily good. Later, I heard that bottle-aged Chimay developed characteristics rare to beer and sometimes associated with Port wine. This was my first exposure to the notion of cellared beer.
The first day that I arrived in Cannes, France during my study abroad experience I set out to find Chimay. What I found, in a local supermarket, was a three-pack collectors’ set featuring the three primary styles of Chimay with a goblet (that’s the goblet that I poured this bottle of Première into). It was everything I had hoped.
A few weeks later, after moving to Paris, I went on an adventure to Belgium with a friend of mine. While visiting Brussels was awesome, my primary reasoning for the trip was to somehow get to Baileux. On our second day in Belgium we took a train south from Brussels to Charleroi. From Charleroi we took a bus to the nearest town to Baileux. When we arrived we saw several pubs with Chimay emblems posted above their doors. Shortly after breakfast time we wandered our way in. We each ordered a Chimay (delicious from the tap) and inquired about the abbey that produced it. The barkeep was delighted by our interest and assured us it was only a short drive farther South.
Fueled by lack of food and 9% ABV liquid courage we set out on a hike down the side of a highway. By days end we had visited the bottling company and took a look at the Abbey de Scourmont where the beer is brewed. After walking about 15km we returned to the very same pub with bottles of Chimay packed away in our backpacks. The proprietor remembered us and asked if we had made it to our destination. We assured him that we had but revealed that we had walked. He looked at us like we were crazy and served us two more freshly tapped Chimays. 
Needless to say, I’m biased, but, it’s a great beer to be biased toward. Definitely check these brews out if you can.

Wychwood Brewery - Hobgoblin



Wychwood Brewery - Hobgoblin
Serving Type: 500 mL bottle, poured into a nonic pint glass
Hobgoblin, possibly the most widely available of Wychwood’s beers pours with a rich creamy tan head of fine carbonation atop a brilliantly clear ruby-copper body. The full head is good on retention and produces great, eye-catching lacing. The vanilla bean nose is backed up by a creamy sweetness and hints of mocha coffee aroma.
The piercing crisp malts roll in with a considerable hop profile. The Goldings and Fuggles hops add tons of flavor, but do not overpower the beer with bitterness. Earthy nut flavors round out the beer, which is both clean and refreshing. This is a great beer and definitely something to check out if you’re a fan of Newcastle.
Final Verdict: A-

Homebrew Series - Making Mead



Homebrew Series - Making Mead
Part 1 - Mixing the ingredients
This will be a series about my first attempt at making some homemade mead. The process overall should take between three and four weeks. Most of the time is waiting for fermentation to take place, while the first few days have the bulk of the work.
The process seems simple enough and I’ll be using a recipe posted by Elizabeth Scheyder. Mead, for those who may not be familiar with it, is a type of honey wine, often thought to be the first ever fermented beverage. The recipe includes the addition of some spices that technically make this a ‘metheglin,’ but just mead will do.
To help the flavoring process, fresh cinnamon sticks should be lightly cracked. I used a paper towel and a thick pint glass. Very high-tech.
Similarly, the whole cloves (I used four) need to be lightly cracked.
Important to the process is using cleansed utensils. I used a warm light bleach mixture, but other sanitation products could also be used. 
The spices, including lemon zest and cardamom are simmer in 2 quarts of water to add aroma.
After the water is scented an extra quart of water is added with 2 lbs of raw honey.
The mixture is combined fully, the white foam is skimmed off, and the pot is removed from the burner.
The next step is to add yeast, but the mixture needs to cool first. I left the pot overnight, but an ice bath could achieve the same result in much less time.
Tomorrow I’ll show the next steps which include straining the spices and pitching the yeast.


See the other parts in this series:

Narragansett Porter Ice Cream Float



Narragansett Porter Ice Cream Float
Narragansett posted an YouTube and Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits Tumbled a great video explaining how to make a Porter Ice Cream Float. I’m not sure how much instruction is really necessary, but the idea was great. 
Tested it out for dessert to great success. If you get the chance to pick up some Porter, definitely give this one a try.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Narragansett - Porter



Narragansett - Porter
Serving Type: 16 oz. tall boy can, poured into a pint glass
After the success of Fest and the quick sell-out I bought a case of Narragansett Porter without having tried it first. Luckily I had some trusted opinion on it before I committed, but it was well worth it.
The Porter comes out of the can with a silky slick pour. The liquid has a syrupy appearance and a dark brown hue. The head is a frothy brown with great retention and produces nice lacing even as it recedes. The nose is heavy on espresso and chocolate. The roasty malts provide a nicely balanced sweet toffee aroma.
The flavor is full-bodied and carries a biting smokiness. The roasted malts are delicious and provide for tons of flavor. Brown sugar and molasses sweeten up the beer a bit, but the hop profile and smoke keep it in check. The mouthfeel is light overall. Its certainly not as robust as many other porters, but that makes for excellent drinkability.
Final Verdict: B+*
*I kind of want to go with A-, but I think that’s fueled by personal preference and my affinity for Narragansett as a whole. 

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