Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This Lagunitas offering is entitled 'Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale'. It might be one the most misleading of beer titles out on the market. First the six pack literature indicates that the Lagunitas marketing team named this beer after its copper color and nothing else. Apparently they invented the 'rich copper ale' tag. On further tasting, it's pretty clear the brew resembles an amber ale. In addition to the style confusion, the real name for this beer appears to be covered by the 'censored' label graphically stamped over the title. (see picture) After a quick scan on the Internet, there seems to be a consensus that the original name was "The Kronic" (and that could fit the outline of a couple letters that are visible behind the stamp). I'm not sure if this censoring was an intentional marketing technique or mandated by the Alcohol Beverage Commission. But either way that's the name of this brew.
As for the product itself, it does have a coppery hue with an orangey - yellowly lining. So I'll agree with them there. The smell is surprisingly more like a Belgian ale than an American ale but the taste is pretty standard for an American Amber. There are a lot of caramel malt flavors and a hint of a hop backbone. Hops come through more as the beer warms. The malt flavor lingers and provides a sweet aftertaste. The beer is also rather crisp and is quite drinkable despite the fact it is an ale. As I generally am a fan of ambers, I could easily put this in my regular rotation.
While the taste I can figure out, the name will leave you guessing. Since, I've heard that Lagunitas responds to emails I might just inquire into the reason for the strange name. If I do, I'll be sure to let you all know. Cheers.
Update on 5/22/09: I haven't emailed Lagunitas yet. But I do have proof. At my favorite beer bar in San Francisco (Toronado), I found an old Lagunitas tap bearing the true name. While I didn't have my camera on me, I wanted some evidence, and my cell has a decent photo option, so if you don't believe me click on the photo.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This ale is quite unique. Lots of different flavors going on. It's got a peculiar sweetness to it that is a bit like cola or licorice, though there's also some smoky coffee notes and a dry finish that hints of a red wine. Mouthfeel is about par for the course so far as stouts go--it's fairly thick but not milk-stout thick. It finishes with a dry hoppiness that manages to take the edge off the sweetness, though in the end it's still a little sweeter than I'd like.
Nevertheless I have to give credit to Stoudts for packing so many different flavors into a single brew and making them all work together pretty well. For an imperial, this one goes down pretty smooth too--there's just a hint of the alcohol in the aftertaste. All in all, a respectable stout, but certainly not on the order of Barney Flats or Bell's Double Cream.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
That all being said I'm pretty sure these beers all are produced from the same brewery. A brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England. A very very old brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England. Apparently Samuel Smith uses 200 year old yeast strains for its beers and ancient brewing techniques; specifically the Yorkshire Square.
As a result, Samuel Smith's brews have unique flavors you just can't find anyone else. If there is any continuity between the two beers I reviewed that might be attributed to the old brewing methods it could be a noticeable sweetness. I thought the pale ale had very sweet toffee flavors and this beer has some syrupy sweetness to it. For being a stout, the beer's sweet aftertaste was a little surprising. The sweetness reminds me of a little of coke or pepsi. That may sound gross, but it works. The sugar sensation is not overpowering at all and rounds out a pretty hearty initial mouthfeel. Besides the sweet, the stout smells like oats which isn't surprising, as it is an oatmeal stout, and the malt flavors finally start to emerge as the beer warms a little. Combined with the sweetness it's pretty good.
So I followed through on my promise to review this beer. And while I can't promise it, I'm very confident that this very old brewery will produce a brew that any beer drinker will enjoy. Cheers.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So while most beer and grocery stores are promoting every type of winter warmer and other cold weather beers, unless it gets cold out west, I'll continue to mix in an occasional wheat beer. And probably share it with others. Stay cool. Cheers.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
While this beer advertises itself as roasty and malty, it's the centennial hops that really comes through. That, and a unique spruce-pine flavor. I suppose Santa likes his beer to taste vaguely like Christmas trees. However it isn't as though the malts are entirely absent. In fact, they contrast with the hops quite nicely. But you have to have a taste for that earthy centennial hop flavor to really enjoy this one of Rogue's offerings.
Perhaps surprisingly, this one is pretty drinkable for being a winter warmer. It's got a very light mouthfeel and is pretty well carbonated. I guess that means this might not be a brew to reach for if you are really looking for something thick and satisfying. Overall, however, not a bad offering.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Weighing in at an impressive 8.1% ABV, Steel Reserve, or "211" as it is affectionately referred to by 40 enthusiasts (i.e. scary gangster alcoholic types or retired web entrepreneur types), is the preeminent choice for those looking to get piss-ass drunk without breaking the bank. For a meager $2, you receive approximately as much alcohol as would be found in a six-pack of "normal gravity" lager (usually between 4 and 5% ABV). As far as I'm concerned, drinking anything else is a waste of money... and stomach space.
In the taste department, Steel Reserve neither fails to meet nor does it exceed expectations. Its taste closely mirrors that of a Budweiser with a shot of hard liquor poured into it. A word of advice: the colder it is, the better, because the coldness overwhelms your taste buds and shields them from the full onslaught of which this brew is capable of delivering. When it comes to 211, the mantra is "drink it cold and drink it fast."
Now a true aficionado might scoff at the notion, but I would argue that a "Steeley" is greatly enhanced by the addition of a cup and a half (in layman's terms, from the neck of the bottle to the "top of the label") of orange juice, thereby creating what is commonly referred to by any number of white-boy rap groups as a "brass monkey". The synergy between orange juice and what is otherwise considered to be a harsh lager creates an unexpectedly delicious beverage. I am not a chemist, so I can't explain exactly what is going on at the molecular level, but it seems highly probable, nay, almost certain that the combination of these two liquids yields a third, completely different compound with shocking "drinkability" (sorry Bud Light, I used your made-up word). The emergent greatness is very similar to a mimosa, except instead of being served in a fancy champagne flute alongside Eggs Benedict, it comes in the unmistakable, cone-topped 40-ounce malt liquor bottle and is best accompanied by chips and salsa or some other such drinking food.
I won't lie to you--this isn't the classiest of beers. But even its detractors have a hard time arguing that, for your money, it's not one of the best ways to get drunk quickly. Two of these bad boys will almost certainly guarantee that even the burliest of drinkers forgets the remainder of the night. And, let's face it, after the first few beers, anything tastes good. So next time you're standing in front of the beer fridges and asking yourself "lager or ale?", "pilsner or hef?", "import or domestic?"... just take a few paces to your right and look down on the bottom shelf (or at my home 7-11, the floor of the fridge). For less than the price of a six pack of some fancy-pants microbrew, you could be enjoying not one but two 40-ounce bottles of "exceptionally smooth" (in the brewer's own words) Steel Reserve High Gravity Malt Liquor.
Oh, and unless you like the taste of ram's piss, don't forget a quart of OJ.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Also remember that each year Anchor changes the recipe of this winter warmer to spice things up. Not surprisingly the taste is similar. However there are a few noticeable changes.
Monday, November 10, 2008
This brew advertises itself as a "not quite pale ale." That's a fair description--take a typical pale ale, and then back off the hops and the malts a bit (yes, it's even less malty than a pale), and that's where you start. But you take this somewhat bland base and then add a heavy dose of crisp sweet citrus. However, the sweetness is heavily tempered by a very dry finish, a very light mouthfeel, and a substantial dose of carbonation. In sum, it's kind of like a copper ale, but a bit lighter and bubblier, and even more drinkable.
While this isn't a particularly complicated or subtle brew, it's also a beer that I don't think I'll ever get tired of. It's consistently refreshing and always seems to fit the occaision. To those of you living out west, this is one you have to try if you ever visit the other, colder coast.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I'm not quite sure where the name Red Tulip comes from. The reference to the tulip could be nothing more than an allusion to the tulip craze that seized Holland in the seventeenth century. I'm not sure about the "red" part--while this might technically be a red ale (it does have a reddish hue), the predominant taste here is toasty carmelly malts, which is more typical of a brown ale. This is a thoroughly drinkable amber ale (of which red ales are usually considered a sub-group), which--probably to New Holland's detriment--means that it is strangely evocative of Budweiser's new American Ale. Except, unfortunately, this one has even less hops than its megabrew counterpart. It makes up for that lack a little bit by bringing out the malt taste a bit stronger. However, all in all, it's a disappointingly bland beer.
This beer's chief redeeming factor is its drinkability. It may be the only carmel-malty ale that stands no chance of filling you up. But that's hardly enough to warrant craft brew pricing. Good effort, New Holland, but you'll have to try again.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
If aged beer is not your thing, Russian River Brewing Company has a couple traditional beers that are definitely worth trying. My favorite is the Blind Pig IPA. So as not to get confused with their other offerings, Russian River prints on this bottle "Keep Cold, Drink Fresh, Do Not Age!" And that's what I did. This is a hoppy IPA that has piney, citrusy, and woody flavored hops. The hops are definitely the most prominent flavors (very strong) but there is a touch of malt lingering in the background to round out the beer.
This beer is difficult to get a hold of. RRBC is a relatively small operation and it's beer can be difficult to find. If you search BevMo or other liquor stores' websites for the term 'Russian River' you'll see that the engine brings up more wine hits than beer hits. But if you are persistent you can find Blind Pig or other offerings at a variety of NorCal locations on tap or in bottles. (City Beer, Toronado, Jackson's Wine and Spirits to name a few).
If located, Russian River beers might be a great way to cross over wine drinkers to the wonderful tastes of hops and malted barley. For those that don't care how long a beer is aged, what flavors mix well, and what temperature to store beer - you'll still enjoy this beer. It tastes good. I promise. Cheers.