Saturday, April 30, 2011

Allagash Brewing Company - Tripel

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a goblet

On recommendation from a friend and reader, Julie Markus, I picked up a four-pack of Allagash's Tripel. Being a fan of Allagash White, it didn't take much convincing to buy some of this beer. The beer pours a hazy, light orange with a fine yeast suspension. The head is thin, but creamy with light retention. The lacing is broad and chunky. The nose is sweet and citrusy with spicy notes. Prominent coriander with a slight hint of lavender adds pleasant depth to the aroma.

The beer is sweet up front and clearly strong. This is an excellent tripel that manages its 9% ABV quite well. Three's a fruity tone to the beer and the spiciness develops an herbal balance to the powerful malts and alcohol. It's smooth with a clean mouthfeel that makes it refreshing and highly drinkable. There's a barely perceptible hint of leafy green vegetables on the finish with lasting spiciness and hints of alcohol.

Final Verdict: A

Friday, April 29, 2011

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Pitch Black IPA

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass

The Oregonian brewer Widmer Brothers' Pitch Black IPA pours a very deep brown, but clear, with a ruby glow and a large frothy tan head. The retention on the head is excellent and the lacing is moderate and appealing. Coffee notes and a dark sweetness from the roasted malts define the nose. A fragrant hopping pierces the smokey coffee, providing an interesting meshing of aromas.

The smokey roasted malts seem gritty in texture, but are balanced by crisp and fresh hops. The hops almost seem citrusy, in distinct contrast from the malts. However, the play with the smokiness modifies the character of the hops giving the beer a unique edge. The biting hops combine nicely with the powerful charred character and create a lasting finish.

Final Verdict: B+

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

D.L. Geary Brewing Company - Geary's IPA

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. twist-off bottle with a crooked label, poured into a pint glass

Geary's IPA pours a mildly attenuated amber with a slight chilled haze. The thick head is creamy in consistency with an off-white complexion. Vanilla sweetness is present off the start on the nose with a bouquet of fresh hops with a citrusy tone. The toasted malts provide a mild caramel sweetness.

The mouthfeel is velvety with a balance of carbonation and body. The grapefruit hops are pungent, but far from overpowering. The biscuity malts work in harmony with the hops to provide a tightness or flavor, that keeps a commendable depth. The grains are lightly grassy and make for a crisp and flavorful finish.

Final Verdict: B+

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Harpoon Brewery - Harpoon Leviathan - Quad

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a snifter

Harpoon's 11.75% ABV quadrupel comes from their Leviathan series of beers. It pours a deep mahogany with a radiating ruby gleam. The tan head is moderate in size with a short-lived retention. It sticks around for a while as a thin layer of foam clinging to the top of the beer. As with most strong ales, the lacing here is nearly nonexistent. There's a potent sweetness on the nose with a yeasty Belgian must. A moderate spiciness adds a hint of depth.

There's only modest alcohol on the foretaste with heaps of very sweet dark fruits. The overt sugariness is tempered slightly by a peppery and complex spiciness. The beer is extremely sweet, but not cloying. The commanding nature of the beer's toothsome nature comes in part from the addition of Belgian Dark Candi Syrup. The finish is clean but carries a significant warming alcohol that heats the chest.

Final Verdict: A-

Monday, April 25, 2011

Samuel Adams - Imperial White (Imperial Series)

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug

Samuel Adams' Imperial White pours a diffuse amber body with lots of free floating yeast. The beer is significantly darker than I was expecting. The thick foam head is lightly creamy with a yeast-speckled complexion on a yellowy tan base. The head retention is moderate, as is the lacing. Massive orange notes dominate the nose. There's a mild astringency to the citrus, which seems like it could be artificial. The wheat malts are sweet and there's a slight spiciness underpinning the aroma.

Sweet up front, the beer has a clear and dominating alcohol character. At 10.5% ABV it's not surprising, but it isn't tempered as one might hope. The orange comes through with an oily extract edge. Moderate coriander spice attempts to round the beer, but seems to call a bit short. Full-bodied wheat malts add some depth and define the sweetness of the beer. The finish is very warm and quite boozy. For the strength of the beer, the alcoholic edge isn't unwarranted, but there's a lack of balance.

Final Verdict: C+

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beerisms 15 - Charles Dickens

Dick Swiveller:
"Did you ever taste beer?"

Servant:
"I had a sip of it once."

Dick Swiveller:
"Here's a state of things! She never tasted it--it can't be tasted in a sip!"
- Charles Dickens, 
"The Old Curiosity Shop"

Musings at American Craft Brew Fest!

This June I will be traveling to Boston, Massachusetts for the 4th Annual American Craft Brew Fest!

The festival is going to be held on June 3 and 4 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. The event is hosted by BeerAdvocate and Harpoon Brewery and featuring over 100 American breweries and hundreds of beers. The festival is the largest of its kind on the East Coast.

On Saturday morning (June 4) I will be volunteering with BeerAdvocate as part of the setup and the first tasting session of the day. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to be doing, but I have a feeling it will entail setting up tables, displays, etc. as well as helping at a booth or booths during the session. I'm looking forward to meeting beer enthusiasts and brewers from around the country and the Northeast.

In the afternoon I'll be walking around the event sampling many of the beers from many of the breweries. I'm hoping to use the time to talk with some of the brewers for a small interview series on Musings. I'm also hoping to take a bunch of photos to post on the blog as well.

BeerAdvocate has a list of brewers in attendance and other information regarding the event, if you're interested in finding out more.

Additional volunteers are also needed. You can go to their website to sign up to help out. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Samuel Adams - Double Bock (Imperial Series)


Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a Pokal glass

Coming from the Boston Beer Company's Imperial Series, the Double Bock weighs in at 9.5% ABV. The beer pours a rich mahogany with a light auburn glow. The healthy light tan head has a creamy consistency with excellent retention and moderate lacing. Light caramel paired with toasted malts on the nose give the beer a mildly lagery aroma. A slight spiciness rounds off the nose with a hint of alcohol.

The beer is very bold and strong up front. It shows off the impact that a double can bring and does it will seemingly little effort. There's a light port character with nectarous hints of cherries. The sweet toasted malts are dominant with very light hop personality. The beer is fairly boozy overall. The alcoholic tinge is there throughout, but not exactly hot. It's a bit biting and not hidden as well as other doubles and strong ales. The finish is dry with moderate alcohol.

Final Verdict: B

Friday, April 22, 2011

North Coast Brewing Co. - Old Stock Ale 2010

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a snifter

North Coast's Old Stock Ale, 2010 vintage, is an Old Ale, a style known for unabashed big malt character. The beer would age well, and if I get the change, I may pick up a few bottles to cellar for a couple of years. The beer pours a mild brown with a deep ruby glow. The head is a creamy light tan than measures commendable retention for a beer weighing in at an impressive 11.7% ABV. The nose is sweet and clearly alcoholic. Dark and earthy character is apparent with a mild hint of cocoa and prominent candied cherries.

The beer is gritty and earthy up front with big malts. The alcohol character is pronounced, but doesn't upset the quality of the beer. A sweetness is ever-present, driving together a Port wine-like component with dark fruits in abundance. The finish has slight chocolate and coffee notes with a warming alcohol heat.

Final Verdict: B+*

* - At this point the beer is a bit strong at the edges. A year (or a couple) in the bottle would help to mellow it out and bring out some of its finer notes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Victory Brewing Co. - St. Victorious Doppelbock

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a Pokal glass

St. Victorious pours a stunning light chestnut with a copper shimmer. The body of the beer is slightly hazy and is topped by a creamy light tan foam. The medium-sized head is solid on the retention and produces a sparse display of lace on the glass. The nose is musty and earthy with the scent of coarsely cracked grains. There's a bark-like dampness, reminiscent of a walk in the woods after a Fall rain.

The mouthfeel is velvety: initially slick with a deft balance of carbonation. The deep toasted malts carry an understated caramel sweetness. The beer is robust and almost burly with a solid bittering. The hops aren't piney or citrusy, but play off the caramel hints nicely. The finish is lasting and earthy with a rich, almost chocolatey, edge.

Final Verdict: B+

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Victory Brewing Co. - Moonglow Weizenbock

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a fluted glass

Moonglow Weizenbock pours a yeast-speckled auburn with the warmth of an orangey glow. The consistency is extremely cloudy with a big chunky yeast suspension. The head is a modest off-white, fluffy while it lasts, but with minimal retention. There's massive apple cider on the nose with a significant clove spiciness and bready wheat malts.

The beer is very sweet and alcoholic up front with a phenolic ester attack. Mild banana and a bready edge primarily define the beer, but the flavor seems fairly mellow overall. There's a clear spiciness, but it doesn't seem to lift the depth of flavor to any significant extent. Alcohol is strong throughout the body of the beer and produces a boozy finish with a warm chest feeling.

Final Verdict: B-

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Victory Brewing Co. - Headwaters Pale Ale

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a Mark Twain pint glass

The Headwaters Pale Ale from Pennsylvania-based Victory pours a deep gold with a suffused, but understated tawny warmth. The slightly yellowed head is airy and light with moderate retention and modest lacing throughout the glass. The nose has a hoppy and dusty aroma with a slightly sweet and malty edge.

The texture is a coarse graininess with a healthy dose of carbonation. The apple juice sweetness of the malts are balanced by a pronounced, but well-contained hopping. The hops are lightly piney in character and provide a nice round of bittering, suitable for an American Pale Ale. The finish is clean and crisp making for a highly drinkable beer.

Final Verdict: B-

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kiuchi Brewery - Hitachino Nest Ancient Nipponia

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 550 mL bottle, poured into a tulip glass

Ancient Nipponia is a limited release from the Japanese Kiuchi Brewery, which was unfortunately damaged in the recent disasters in Japan.* The beer comes in a very interesting deep green tinted 550 mL bottle. The Japanese take on a Belgian Pale Ale is very yellowy on the pour, but results in a glowing and radient gold beer. It is very hazy with floating yeast and a huge creamy off-white head with excellent retention. The nose is spicy with a light yeasty dust. Citrus notes are huge and give the beer a fruity and bright appeal. There's a nice even sweetness to round off the aroma.

The body seems initially thin, but a bit of aeration lends itself to a more full-bodied mouthfeel. There's a slight lagery character to the beer. Big honey sweetness defines the foretaste. The hop character is unique and gave me a lot of trouble in defining its qualities. The beer is brewed with the rare Sorachi hop varietal that seems present throughout. Notes of sweet rice with toasted sesame seeds lend this beer a squarely Japanese edge.

The hops carry through to the finish providing for a very interesting and unique finale. On the back end there's a slight banana character and perceptible Belgian saison-like qualities. The beer is tasty and extremely drinkable, but doesn't really seem like a true Belgian Pale Ale, it is, however, a very interesting take on the style. It's a bit too pricey for my tastes, but it is still worth checking out this limited release beer, if you can find a bottle.

Final Verdict: B+

*The brewery was damaged in the initial earthquake that struck Japan last month. However, it appear as if the damage was not too significant to shutter the facility. For the time being it looks as if exports of beer from the brewery are on hold. While in the stages of recovery, the brewery has taken to bottling water for those left displaced or otherwise affected by the disaster.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sebago Brewing Company - Frye's Leap India Pale Ale

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass

Frye's Leap pours a slick pale amber with a mild brown tint. While mostly clear, the beer has a slight murkiness. The creamy light tan initially fades quickly, but keeps a fine layer of foam for most of the life of the beer. Clean hops define the nose with slight vanilla hints. There's a slight perfume that mixes earthy tones with a floral bouquet.

The hops are very fruity and work well with a huge malt caramel sweetness. The texture is smooth and creamy with a slight carbonated crispness. Without the extra tinge of carbonation, the beer might have seemed a bit watery. The beer has an almost spicy character to it. It's not quite a cinnamon, but the same slightly powdery texture is apparent in the beer. The finish is big with leafy vegetation, graininess, and a mild mineral water flavor.

Final Verdict: A-

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sebago Brewing Company - Full Throttle Double IPA

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a tulip glass

Sebago's Double IPA pours a foggy amber with plenty of unfiltered yeast floating around. The head is very thick with a dense creamy consistency with a lightly yellowed color. The foam retention is excellent with lacing to match. The nose is very sweet with a distinctive fruity tone. The hops are lightly piercing and pack a citrusy aroma.

Big luscious hops define the beer with a tight, very piney flavor. There's a light vanilla component that helps to smooth out the bold bitterness. The pronounced hop character is the result of a 1 month dry hopping and an impressive hop bill featuring Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe varieties. The beers sweetness also shines through. It is strong, but not cloying and hides the alcohol well. The finish has a bit of a warming character, but remains very clean.

Final Verdict: A-

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dixie Brewing Company - Dixie

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a Mark Twain pint glass

Does being from New Orleans make an American adjunct lager any better? Unfortunately, not really. The beer pours a pale straw body with a slight haz and a thin white head. The head is low on retention with minimal lacing. The nose is characterized by sweet thin malts with a slightly grassy edge. A mild honey sweetness struggles against a somewhat unpleasant astringency.

The beer is very sweet, lacking much balance of flavors. High carbonation makes for a fizzy mouthfeel. As the finish approaches a medicinal flavor develops with a sour graininess. The aftertaste isn't unpalatable, but unrewarding. Luckily, it is fairly sparse and dissipates quickly.

Final Verdict: D+

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Long Trail Brewing Co. - Brewmaster Series Coffee Stout

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 650 mL "bomber" bottle, poured into a Nonic pint glass

Long Trail's Coffee Stout is part of their Brewmaster Series and features locally roasted coffee beans. The beer pours a deep brown, edging up to black. The pour is thick and syrupy ad results in a sizable brown head, with a definitively creamy texture. The aroma carries massive coffee and chocolate notes. The cocoa definitely comes across as the stronger of the two. There's a very feint smokiness under the rich chocolaty sweetness.

The body of the beer is silky smooth with a luscious creamy consistency. The coffee comes across big on the flavor with a deep French Roast darkness and complexity in the blend. The roasted barley is flavorful and hearty. The smokiness comes in near the finish, but it's more subtle than many Imperial stouts. There's a very slight hint of alcohol, barely noticeable, after the finish.

Final Verdict: A-

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mendocino Brewing Company - Black Hawk Stout

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug

Black Hawk Stout, the final beer from Mendocino's Select series pours an extremely dark body with only a feint flicker of ruby glow at its base. The head is a frothy tan foam that approaches chocolate milkshake status in its froth and produces great clingy lacing. There's a light smokiness to the roasted malts that comes through on the nose. The aroma seems simple and concise with a hint of hops to lighten it up a bit.

The mouthfeel is initially smooth, but carbonation makes its way in with an abrupt entrance and almost turns out a bit watery. The flavor turns from quite mellow to what seems slightly sour. Huge smoke comes in late to turn the beer around a bit and is coupled with hints of vanilla. The finish has a gritty coarseness to it and produces a fair aftertaste.

Final Verdict: B-

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mendocino Brewing Company - Eye of the Hawk

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug

Switching back to the Select series (i.e. White Hawk) comes Mendocino's Eye of the Hawk, and American strong ale. The beer pours a deep amber with apparent reddish hues. The head is an airy light tan, moderate in size, with surprisingly good retention from the initial pour. The nose is leafy and fresh with a waxy honey sweetness and hints of light caramel toastiness.

The caramel and sticky molasses are huge in this beer. Overall the focus here is on big malts and very light on hops. There's an earthiness to the beer, but it's missing some of the deft nuance of the Red Tail Ale. There's a slight spiced rum character to the beer, but it is thankfully lacking the burn of the real deal. A bit of alcohol develops on the finish and lingers with a considerable dryness.

Final Verdict: B+

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mendocino Brewing Company - Red Tail Ale

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass

Another beer from Mendocino, this time from their Legend series, Red Tale Ale is an American amber ale with a lot going for it. The beer pours a glowing amber body with a hazy complexion. The head is a thin white foam, velvety smooth with tons of minuscule carbonation bubbles. The foam produces a series of lightly layer lace on the glass. The nose is sweet with caramel malts and comes across fresh and clean. There's a light dusting of hops, not pronounced, but pleasantly subdued.

The malts are clear and predominant on the palate. The sweetness is substantial, almost like candied fruits, but far from cloying. There's a slightly herbal, almost clover-like honey character as well. The beer is lightly earthy, but not gritty and without the 'dirtiness' often characterizing earthiness. Almost flowery, there are hints of hibiscus near the finish. The hops are present, but light overall. They provide a dash of bitterness for some added depth, but remain understated.

Final Verdict: A-

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mendocino Brewing Company - White Hawk Select IPA

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a pint glass

The White Hawk IPA from Mendocino pours a moderate-to-deep amber with a hazy light glow. The off-white head has a fluffy and frothy texture. The retention is moderate but the foam produces great, cascading layers of lacing on the glass. The beer is highly aromatic with pungent piney hops and biscuity malt undertones.

The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and full-bodied. The caramel malts are smooth and lightly bready. There's a light honey, almost syrupy, sweetness that rounds out the malt character. The hops are great with a floral essence and an even bittering. Very flavorful. The finish is high on the piney character from the hops with a long-lasting flavor.

Final Verdict: A-

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