Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sixpoint Brewery - The Crisp

Brewed In: Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Serving Type: 16 oz. tallboy can, poured into a plastic cup

The Crisp, from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Brewery, pours a clear golden straw body with a shimmering honey glow. Tons of carbonation bubbles rise rapidly throughout the beer. The off-white airy white foam creates a modestly-sized head that fades slowly with a quiet crackling. Light lace adorns the walls of the glass (plastic in this case) once the foam departs. The nose is fresh with a bouquet of hops and an almost soapy aroma. Orange peel adds citrus notes and the nose seems almost slightly spicy. A sweet lagered graininess creates the inviting base of the beer.

Crisp, sparkling carbonation tingles the tongue on the first sip. Citrus oils enter strong for a big and distinct hop profile that never overpowers the malt base. Fresh grains are grassy and reminiscent of the gristmill in mid-operation. Mild pears and a hint of apple juice meet a smooth buttery component on the mid-palate that shifts the tone of the beer slightly. The lager finishes clean and refreshing. It lives up to its name making a highly drinkable and highly enjoyable go-to lager.

Final Verdict: A

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Butternuts Beer & Ale - Porkslap Pale Ale

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. can, poured into a plastic cup

This interestingly named, canned Farmhouse-inspired Pale Ale pours a deep amber body. The beer is semi-tawny with a slight grapefruit glow. The head is lightly tanned with a yellowish tint. Foam retention is solid and produces layers of lace as the head slowly disappears. The nose is malty and lightly spicy with a mild funk. By the nose, with light citrus hints, you might swear you were picking up the beer's hops. However, this beer, as advertised on the can, is an 'all malt' brew.

The beer is tart and dry with a gristly malt base. Sweet but not cloying and malty without being a bomb, the beer strikes an elegant balance of flavors. A solid graininess produces a coarse texture and lends a grassy component. The grassy earthy flavors give the beer the feel of a farmyard, whether or not its produced in the true style of a Farmhouse Ale. The finish carries a light crispness and and goes out with a lasting dryness on the aftertaste.

Final Verdict: B+

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Magic Hat Brewing Company - Howl Black as Night Lager

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

Howl, a black lager/schwarzbier from Magic Hat, pours dark blackish brown with a ruby inner glow. Active carbonation bunches on the edge of the glass and below the medium-sized head. The foam is airy and light tan with modest staying power and light lacing. The nose contains modest smoke with hints of chocolate. Graininess is apparent, even through the moderate toasty notes.

The body is light and crisp with slightly sour, tea-like grains, even through the toasted malt flavors. The flavor is underwhelming and very light on the whole. The beer seems a bit watery and the smokey body feels drowned out. A vague sooty smoke dryness brings in a dark roasted flavor on the finish to pick up the intensity slightly on the way out.

Final Verdict: C

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Magic Hat Brewing Company - #9

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

Magic Hat #9 is perhaps the most well-known and popular of the brewer's selection. This apricot flavored beer pours a slightly reddish orange body. It's crystal clear with a small, lightly yellowed head of airy foam. The retention is modest and the lacing is light overall. The nose is very sweet and sugary with a strong candy apricot-like scent. It seems to have a distinct 'flavor added' feel and it seems quite clear that no real apricots are directly involved in the production of the beer. I could be wrong, and if I am, please let me know.

Cloying fruitiness overtakes the beer on the foretaste. Malt body and any hint of hops are all but entirely missing here. Mild hints of grain sneak in on the mid-palate. The grains give a tea-like flavor, not that of a substantial ale. The finish is dry, but almost sickly sweet. A tinge of crisp carbonation lightens the mouthfeel a bit. The Ourtoberfest beer brought me back to Magic Hat a few months back, but at this point, I'm remembering why I left in the first place.

Final Verdict: D+

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Magic Hat Brewing Company - Encore American Wheat IPA

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

After reviewing and enjoying the Hex Ourtoberfest by Magic Hat, I resolved to give the brewer another try and seek out some of their other offerings for the blog. First up is the Encore American Wheat IPA. The beer pours a radiantly hazy orange body with a light grapefruit-tinted inner glow. The head is a frothy, slightly yellowed foam, which fades slowly and leaves plenty of lace behind. The nose is slightly acidic. Highly citric hops on the nose lend a sweet and refreshing aroma combined with a mild floral component. Sweet wheat grains are prominent with a light spiciness.

The mouthfeel is very smooth with a lightly fizzing velvet carbonation. The crispness accentuates the floral sweetness and helps to tone down the beer's minor astringency. Hops are bitter and slightly drying. The citrus hop flavors play up defined orange peel and combine with the sweet and coarse wheat malts. Minor honey sweetness adds a slight waxy viscosity to the finish. Lingering vegetal elements remain with a mild dryness.

Final Verdict: B

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mercury Brewing Company - Clown Shoes - Lubrication American Black Ale

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

The Lubrication Black Ale from Clown Shoes/Mercury pours a deep brown body, pushing black with a ruby glow around its edges and on the pour. The full tan head is small, but creamy in consistency with a mild oily sheen. The head fades slowly and leaves light lace behind as it goes. The robust smokey nose features hints of coffee and a dry powdery essence on the back end.

With a smooth and satiny mouthfeel the beer features a toffee sweetness up front. Slowly the sweets slide into a medium roast coffee with mild smokey notes. The beer seems dry with a vague mineral influence. From the mid-palate through the finish the flavor fades and leaves an exceedingly dry and lightly smokey finish.

Final Verdict: B

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mercury Brewing Company - Clown Shoes - Clementine White Ale

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

Clementine by Clown Shoes, brewed by Mercury (which also brews Ipswich), pours a light glowing orange body with steadily rising carbonation. The beer appears very cloudy, approaching opaque. The head is a thin white airy light foam with moderate retention. The head does not leave much lace behind. The dry nose is vaguely cellary with a minor sour-like funk. Orangy citrus on the nose sweetens the aroma and lends a light astringency.

Up front a grassy freshness meets light flavorful malts. Orange favor accents light citrusy hops. Mild coriander and white pepper notes mix with an almost ginger-like spiciness. The bold sweetness and spice culminate with a dry finish and a mild tartness. A lasting sweetness and spice profile persist on the slowly fading aftertaste.

Final Verdict: B+

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Southern Tier Brewing Company - Old Man Winter Ale

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

The Old Man Winter Ale from Southern Tier is dubbed an Old Ale, but doesn't quite fit into that category. It is however, perfectly at home for Winter drinking. It pours a medium-to-light amber body with ample frothy foam. The head is off-white and slightly yellowed. The retention is solid and the foam leaves chunky lace. The aroma is toasty with hints of vanilla and moderately dry hops. Toasty sweet caramel lightens the nose, but is contrasted by the slightest hint of smoke.

The beer is big with a full-bodied mouthfeel. A slight cellary feel teams with the hops for a drying effect, but is met by caramelized sugar providing sweetness and earthy tones and dried fruit with hints of raisins. Slight mineral water steps in as the flavor begins to fade. The lingering aftertaste is pleasant with a mild dustiness and a grassy grain feel. A slight chest head develops on the back end, giving this beer its cold weather feel.

Final Verdict: B

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Pilsner

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

The Brooklyn Pilsner from none other than Brooklyn Brewery pours a light straw body with an orange tint. The head is a small white layer of airy foam that sports modest retention but leaves elegant lacing behind. The nose is grainy with a ton of citrus in an aromatic bouquet. It has a gristly toasted malt edge and a mild dry hoppy element.

The beer is very grainy with a coarse texture, could possibly be classified as a 'malt bomb.' The beer is dry and straightforward, but seems like an all out malt assault. The emphasis on malts with a crisp carbonation gives the beer a refreshing drinkable quality. The flavor fades a bit on the mid-palate but leaves a dry grain taste on the tongue. It doesn't pack a real Pilsner feel with very light perceptible hops and not much in the way of traditional Noble hop flavor or aroma. The beer leaves an interesting citrus on the aftertaste.

Definitely a solid lager, but not what I would call a Pilsner.

Final Verdict: B-

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guinness & Co - Guinness Black Lager

Serving Type: 11.2 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

Using the roasted malts found in the traditional Guinness beer, the brewer recently released the Guinness Black Lager employing lager brewing methods and traditional lager hops. The beer pours a dark brown body, deep in color like a regular Guinness, but without the nitro consistency. It features a ruby inner glow and is topped by a light foamy head colored in tan and moderate in size. The head retention is average and leaves light lacing as it recedes. The nose is tight and distinctly lagery with a minor hoppiness. It has a slight Pilsner-like aroma with the addition of toasted grains. Roasted barley is clearly present, but seem modest in their potency and modest overall.

The mouthfeel is quite crisp with plenty a carbonation. Toasted malts are comparable to a modest brown or red ale, falling far short of even the traditional Guinness. Lager notes are prominent and meet almost no smoke at all. Modest caramel notes provide some sweetness through the tight carbonation. Hopping is very minimal. The lager is sweet and crisp with nice color, but it lacks the punch of a solid black lager. It is certainly drinkable and perhaps even a bit adventurous, for the unadventurous.

Final Verdict: C-

Saturday, January 7, 2012

21st Amendment Brewery - Fireside Chat

Serving Type: 12 oz. can, poured into a plastic cup

Fireside Chat, another history-laden name from the already decked out 21st Amendment Brewery, pours a deep tawny brown body with glowing chestnut tones. The head is a thick creamy light brown foam that fades slowly and leaves wisps of lace behind as it goes. The nose is malty with toasted grains and a slight chalky elemental essence. Hops are dank and semi-pungent, offering a slightly brighter edge to the aroma.

Minor coffee notes play off against a light crisp carbonation with a refreshing airy feel. The impact of the flavor with the light body offers satisfying contrast. Mineral water pervades throughout the body and acts as a foil to piquant hops featuring a dusting bright, fresh flavors. The beer is very pleasant and drinkable. It offers a different style for a canned beer, but remains fairly light overall.

Final Verdict: B

Thursday, January 5, 2012

21st Amendment Brewery - 21st Amendment IPA

Serving Type: 12 oz. can, poured into a plastic cup

With its fitting namesake, Amendment XXI of the U.S. Constitution, which repealed the eighteenth and thus prohibition, the 21st Amendment IPA is a classic American IPA dressed in tradition and history. The beer pours a crystal clear orangy amber with a shining glow. The off-white head is lightly frothy with softly cracking bubbles of carbonation. The nose is tight and malty with distinct sweetness. Hops are fresh with an of citric aroma and a distinct stickiness.

The beer is light and the mouthfeel is very crisp and refreshing. Bitterness seems strong up front, but fades to a sugary sweetness. Minor pine notes trade places with the citrus from the nose to define the light bitter profile. Malts show through forcefully on the mid-palate and into the finish. Crispness finishes with a hint of dryness and fading flavor. The beer is highly drinkable and refreshing, but considerably sweeter than expected.

Final Verdict: B-

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal - Dark

Serving Type: 12.7 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

The Dark beer from Hof Ten Dormaal is a Saison or Farmhouse Ale brewed with toasted malts for a darker body and bolder sweetness. The beer pours a hazy, woody brown. It is unfiltered with a murky appearance, packed with floating yeast sediment. The beer sports a thick tan head of sticky foam with excellent retention and elegant lacing. The nose is earthy with minor coffee-like notes juxtaposed against a sour, pungent air common among the style.

Crisp carbonation gives the beer a tight mouthfeel. Malted grains seem coarse and slightly earthy with hints of decomposing wood. Cellary yeast and ample spicy elements give the beer its defining Farmhouse heritage and contrast the almost Bock-like malt profile. Fairly boozy on the finish, the beer finishes warm with lasting caramelized sweetness and spice. Not a style I've had before, I'd like to try more dark Saisons. I found it very interesting how the style is able to absorb the toasted malts while prominently featuring the best parts of a brown beer and a Saison at once.

Final Verdict: B+

Sunday, January 1, 2012

North Coast Brewing Company - Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

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

It's no hyperbole to say that Old Rasputin, named for Grigori Rasputin, is a dark beer. An extremely dark Russian Imperial Stout, indeed. Only a feint ruby glow emerges around the edges of the glass. The large, frothy tan head of foam is creamy and pocked by large bubbles of carbonation. The beer's retention is excellent and leaves layers of lacing all the way down the glass. A mild smokiness emanates on the nose with a slight alcoholic sweetness. Massive dark roasted malts seem to mimic chocolate-coated candied fruits.

The body and mouthfeel of the beer are substantial, but very slick with very minor effervescent carbonation that manages to lighten this very hefty beer. Alcohol is strong and prevalent, but the beer isn't boozy in the least. A tinge of heat mixes with and seems to melt the caramel sweetness underlying the roasted grains. Earthy chocolate notes are reminiscent of raw cacao and accent a minor smokiness making for an inviting, but challenging Imperial Stout.

Final Verdict: A