Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Smuttynose Brewing Co: Old Brown Dog Ale

Back into the variety back we go...

And I have to say, this one is quite a find. Old Brown Dog is Smuttynose's take on a brown ale, and they do a damn good job of it. The predominant taste here is a sweet toasted maltiness that you taste immediately. It's followed by a quick, but balanced hop bitterness that slowly fades, leaving you with a pronounced (but not overpowering) sweet malty aftertaste. It's substantially lighter-bodied than most brown ales, though by no means watery. It's also got a very pleasant fizziness, making it one of the most drinkable brown ales I've had to date.

Old Brown Dog dispenses with any of the flavor accents you otherwise might find in a brown ale--e.g. coffee, chocolate, fruits, etc--in favor of focusing on the taste of malted grains. Nevertheless, it manages to pull off a very full and satsifying flavor, making it one of the mainstays of American browns. Furthermore, its hops and malts are very well balanced, which means that this brew probably will have wide appeal. This is a beer I would recommend to just about anybody.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Smuttynose Brewing Co: Shoals Pale Ale

Smuttynose is a fairly well-known brewery on the East Coast, especially as you move further towards New England. They have a full lineup of different brews, and I grabbed a variety pack, so hopefully I'll be posting on several different ones over the coming weeks. I'll start with their Pale.

The American Pale has diverged quite a bit from its roots in England (where it goes by the name of "Bitter"). Think Sierra Nevada: a bright hoppy flavor accented by a subtle citrus sweet maltiness. Smuttynose pulls back a bit from there, and while I wouldn't call it a traditional English style pale by any means, it definitely bears some similarities to its old-world predecessor. It has a much earthier malt than you usually find in an American brew, and the hops are notably dry. However, there are much more in the way of hops than you'd expect to find in an English brew, and it is also Americanesque in its level of carbonation. All in all, that leaves it with a decisively crisp and dry flavor that lingers on the tongue for quite a while.

While it doesn't qualify as a true English bitter, "bitter" is definitely the best word to describe this brew. So if you don't generally like bitter beers, you best stay away. But if you find yourself in the mood for something on the dry side and you like your hops, then this is definitely one to try.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BridgePort Brewing Co: India Pale Ale

So I finished (with the help of friends) drinking my second home-brewed batch of beer. Very soon I'm going to start up the process of making my third batch. In tribute of this fine style of beer creation, I picked up a six pack of 'authentic bottle conditioned' beer.

You can't miss BridgePort's prominent advertising of their bottle conditioning: right on the neck of each individual bottle. (Click picture to right). After a full pour into a pint glass you also can't miss the syrupy yeast mixture left behind at the bottom of the empty bottle. So BridgePort isn't kidding, this micro-brewery is carbonating their beer the same way I carbonate mine; in the bottle.

As for the taste, overall a pretty good beer. For an IPA it's not nearly as hoppy as you would expect from a West Coast India Pale Ale. Due to it's mild hoppiness other flavors have the chance to emerge. There are noticeable citrus and bread flavors that round out this ale.

While finishing, the brew leaves a thick smear of lacing all the way down the glass. It's quite beautiful. It really get me ready to start brewing again. Cheers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bell's Brewery: Amber Ale

Now that I'm back settled into my little apartment in Philly, it's time to get back to enjoying some of the perks of east coast life, which means a whole new slate of beers to try that we don't usually find out west. For my first pick of the new (and final) school year, I went with a new beer from a brewery that's already proved itself: Bell's Amber Ale.

Bell's does not get props for their naming scheme with this one. Apparently unable to think of a clever moniker for their self-proclaimed flagship, they settled on pure unadulterated generica. But while the name may be a bit uninteresting, the brew itself fares much better.

Whereas most amber ales are marked by pronounced malts and hops (think fat tire, boont), Bell's decided to back off on the hops and really bring out a big malty body. However, the malts tend more towards sweet than smokey, and the beer is pretty well carbonated, which means that Bell's offering in this category is still much lighter tasting than a brown. There's an almost floral bitterness running through the beer that lingers on the tongue for quite a while.

Overall, this is definitely a solid offering, though I would have preferred a bit more hops. Definitely one to check out if you are one to go for big mats, especially sweeter malts.