Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Left Hand Brewing Co.: Milk Stout

For being a state of a modest population, Colorado seems to have a lot of breweries that get recognized nationally. Being generally impressed with their offerings thus far, I decided I try one I hadn't had before. And as it's definitely getting cooler around here, I figured it was the right time to get back into dark beers. And you don't get much darker than a milk stout.

This one's pretty thin for a milk stout, which means that you don't get the creamy mouthfeel that you might be expecting. The predominant taste here is a sweetness that I'm having trouble describing. It's not very malty (nor hoppy for that matter). It reminds me a bit of annis, perhaps. It finishes with a dry earthy bitterness.

In sum, I can't say I'm terribly excited. The taste is far from boring, but the odd sweetness followed by earthy bitterness isn't all that pleasant. A rare miss for the mile-high state.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flying Fish: Imperial Espresso Porter

My last coffee/porter hybrid try (see Rogue's Mocha Porter) was such a success that I figured I should make my way back into the genre. Deciding I'd stay local this time (Flying Fish is out of New Jersey), I grabbed Flying Fish's offering, notwithstanding the "Imperial" tag.

If I had to pick one word here, it would be "sweet." This is definitely one of the sweetest beers I've had outside the fruit/lambic category. Caramel and vanilla are the principal flavors; they are there from the moment it hits your tastebuds, and they linger well into the aftertaste phase. The coffee is there too, showing up somewhat late in the taste, though they don't do much to knock out the sweetness. Hops come through just barely at the very end.

Fortunately, the carbonation and light mouthfeel keep the sweetness from becoming cloying, though all in all this is definitely sweeter than I prefer. I will give this beer props for masking the alcohol content though: while it's listed at 8% ABV, you can't taste the alcohol anywhere.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stone Brewing Company: IPA

I admittedly couldn't handle Stone's Ruination IPA. (See prior post: 5/4/08) Simply too much. Even for a self proclaimed hop head like myself. But as mentioned, Stone Brewing Company makes a series of incredible brews. My favorite selection from the variety of Stone beers I've sampled is their traditional IPA.

First off, the smell is very pungent. The aroma is so powerful it reminds me of the few occasions where I have decided to sample and actually eat a small amount of the straight hops I used in my home-brews. A very raw and fresh scent. Despite this remarkably strong smell, the beer is quite smooth to drink. Don't get me wrong, this is a hoppy beer. If you let it sit on your tongue your taste buds will start to sting. But for how hoppy this brew is, it is so smooth down the gullet. Very impressible. Obviously surprisingly drinkable for an IPA.

As the beer warms up a little you definitely start to notice a malty aspect to this beer. Which is always surpising for how hoppy it smells and tastes. I think the malt presence is ultimatley what is helping with the smooth drinkability.

The aftertaste has an herbal hop feel and if you happen to belch after a few sips you'll notice how your mouth cannot escape the hop resin flavors. But that's what most people are probably looking for in an IPA anyway. Cheers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flying Dog: Woody Creek White

I'm a big fan of Hoegaarden, but when it comes to American witbiers, I generally find them lacking. Great White, Blue Moon, and Sam Adams White are all decent, but they all strike me as being a bit lacking in flavor. Well, I'm not sure that Woody Creek quite lives up to the genuine Belgian thing, but in my book it's the best witbier I've tasted yet on this side of the pond.

Woody Creek is a fairly sweet brew. A fruity citrus flavor is present throughout. It's tempered by the distinctive coriander taste unique to witbiers, and while it might be a bit spicier, it definitely is less so than Hoegaarden. It finishes a little dry, which I think is actually an asset here, because otherwise it might be a little bit too sweet. But as it is, it is a very well-balanced and supremely drinkable brew. Definitely a summery beer, however, so I have a feel that I may not be picking up another one for a while.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Budweiser: American Ale

If you've watched any professional football this year you've probably noticed a Budweiser advertisement approximately every 8 minutes. It's not really surprising, as normally there would be about 3-4 Bud Light commercials during any football telecast. What is surprising is that the commercials are for a Budweiser product that is an ale.

Now Anheuser-Busch as a company does produce a variety of ales under different names (i.e. Michelob, Green Valley, ect), but never before under the Budweiser trademark. At least to my knowledge.

So I wanted to give this ale a shot. See what a so called macro-ale tastes like. The beer is an amber ale. So you'll notice the ruby hue to this brew. Not much head or smell. The taste is pretty malty with a caramel after taste. Smooth aftertaste is clearly its best feature. Slightly bitter and very carbonated. Overall not bad. Not surprisingly it is very drinkable. I could easily down about 12 of these if necessary. Which is probably the point; to ease the company's target market of lager drinkers into the flavor of this amber ale. Which is also probably why it's called 'American Ale'. (Then again it could be to confuse the public from the fact that a Belgium company purchased Budweiser).

The beer is not special in any way. But then again it's not bad. And since it's a macro brew its way cheaper due to the mass production. It was 2 bucks cheaper than any other sixpack in the store. So, if you do a price-taste analysis I could see people opting for this beer in a pinch. That's what they should put in those football advertisements: not bad, drinkable, and cheap. Cheers

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Smuttynose Brewing Co: Pumpkin Ale

The fall seasonals have arrived!

The last Smuttynose I'll review (at least for a while) is their Pumpkin Ale. Pumpkin Ales seem to be a common seasonal brew, especially on the East Coast (maybe I'll dig up one or two more). I think it probably presents a bit of a brewing challenge, because when you think of pumpkin you probably think both sweet and spicy, two flavors that you don't often find combined in a beer.

Smuttynose's take on the brew is interesting, and certainly pumpkiny, but it is a bit far out there for my tastes. First off, the "base" seems to be an amber ale, which lends this brew a pronounced hoppiness, which clashes a bit with the pumpkin's sweet flavors. The beer is a rollercoaster taste-wise, leading with a strong pumpkin-sweet-malt that deveops into an earthy spiciness before finally wholloping you with a pretty substantial dose of hops. The earth tones and the hops linger on your pallate for quite a while, giving the brew a very strong aftertaste. This is a bit of an issue, since the bitterness will probably still be lingering on the back of your tongue by the time you take your next sip, meaning you'll be simultaneously tasting the bitterness and the sweetness.

Overall, it's an interesting beer to be sure, but it will probably appeal to a narrow range of tastes. Maybe I'm just a big enough fan of pumkin pie or something...