Friday, January 30, 2009

Mendocino Brewing Co: Black Eye Ale

Today I was in the mood for a beer. Actually, today I was in the mood for a couple beers. However, rarely am I itching to mix two beers together into one glass. That being said, some breweries blend ales and stouts (or lagers and stouts, or even bitters and stouts) into one bottle to make what's know as a 'black and tan'.

At the store I noticed Mendocino Brewing Co has created a pre-packaged black and tan. This brew is a mix of their stout and strong ale ('Black Hawk' and 'Eye of the Hawk'). I've had most of Mendocino Brew Co's beers but never has it crossed my mind to combine any of their fine craft.

Once poured it's pretty obvious that the stout dominates the combination. The color is a very dark black mahogany topped off with a tan head. The flavors immediately hit the tongue with a very dry burnt malt taste reminiscent of many stouts and other dark dark beers. It's hard to find any hint of the hops which are proudly portrayed in the 'Eye of the Hawk'. There is a slight lime citrus flavor that can sorta be detected from a hop flavoring. But that's about its.

Overall, the 'black and tan' is a cool visual beverage when poured by the drinker. The stout, floating separated on top of the ale, makes for an attractive combo beer that is fun to make on occasion. However, if you take a strong stout like 'Black Hawk' and premix it to make a black and tan, the concoction just doesn't add anything to an already tasty beer. Since I know what these brews taste like separately, I would much rather enjoy them solo. Cheers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Marin Brewing Co: Albion Amber Ale

My first review on this blog was Marin Brewing Co's IPA. That was a long time ago, and I wasn't really sure where this blog was going at the time. Well this post is number 99 which means we are 1 more post away from reviewing 100 beers. I'm pretty satisfied with the work and effort of all my friends who have contributed to this blog.

I'm also happy that the first beer I reviewed was a Marin Brewing Co beer. As you've probably noticed, I like to try to hit at least two beers from the same source so as not to make a snap decision on a brewery before sampling a couple of their craft. After trying Marin's IPA, I moved on to their San Quentin Stout and I'm finally trying their amber ale. While I forgot to review the stout, I'm here now with the amber.

And I must say, this ale is quite tasty. On the back of the bottle, the brewery mentions that the crystal malts are roasted longer than normal. And I really like this effect. This beer is pretty malty and has great caramel malt flavors. The continued roasting also brings out some stout like flavors and I taste a little bit of chocolate and coffee in the malts. It's a nice touch and makes this beer quite smooth but still complex. With little hop flavor, it's not very powerful and very easy to drink making this a silky and somewhat of a lighter brew. Overall, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

And to be honest I would have never had the opportunity to drink and enjoy this beer without this blog. Writing about beer makes me want to sample more often and explore the complexities of each brew and the offerings of each brewery. I hope you all have enjoyed our posts and recommendations as we've tried some fine beer. Cheers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sly Fox Brewing Co: Odyssey Imperial IPA

I made my trek to Tria, the local beer and wine bar, tonight to sample their weekly featured brew. What they had on tap was a local imperial IPA. It being a cold winter night (snow is on the ground), a strong beer was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Odyssey is one of the IPAs that feature a distinctive "piney" taste to them. This taste compliments the extreme hoppiness of an IPA quite nicely. What sets Odyssey apart is that--unlike many IPAs--it doesn't write off the malt flavors entirely. There's an almost sugary malt sweetness that comes through in this beer, and while sugar isn't generally a flavor you'd like to see in a beer, in this case it works out quite nicely. There is also a faint citrusy taste at play in here somewhere, and as you'd expect, the taste of alcohol is also present (though not too strongly).

It seems that in most cases, IPA brewers ignore the malt aspects of their beer entirely to focus on pleasing their hophead constituency. But for those of us that are not extreme hopheads, having a secondary flavor to balance out the hops works out great. But IPA devotees shouldn't worry about this--this is an Imperial IPA through and through, with plenty of hops to go around. In sum, if you are into the India Pale Ale genre, this is definitely a brew worth seeking out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Santa Cruz Ale Works: Pale Ale

I do love Czech pilsners, German lagers, and Belgium witbiers. But more than any authentic European creation, I relish the taste of almost all west coast style American ales.

With the general expansion of microbreweries in the US, it is easier and easier to grab local craft brews. Another relatively new brewery caught my attention: Santa Cruz Ale works. I noticed this brewery had the same "California Brewed" bottle caps as Marin Brewing Co and Moylan's Brewery and Restaurant. (see picture) Apparently any California brewery can get their hands on these bottle caps instead of placing their trademarked logo on the cap. I really like this idea. For those of us who prefer to shop locally it's nice to easily identify California breweries and know that these brewers are also proud of their golden state roots.

But besides the fact that shopping locally helps the environment, stimulates the regional economy, ect, ect it's just fun to sample local craft. And this site is about the beer. As for this pale ale it has really nice spoungy head which eventually dissipates leaving a great hoppy fruity aroma. Unfortunately the taste doesn't back up the smell. While nice and hoppy with a good citrus kick the body is quite thin. I was sorta surprised because all the nice hop flavors are there but it just feels a little watery in the mouth. But one benefit of this character is that it makes this ale very drinkable and thus there was no problem putting down a 22oz bomber.

So next time you are at the grocer or in your favorite local watering hole I encourage you to order a local beer; wherever that may be. You can stick to an old favorite or have fun sampling something new. You can't go wrong. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anchor Brewing Co.: Liberty Ale

The birthplace of liberty (my dear Philly) is not the birthplace of liberty ale. But they do sell Liberty Ale out here (at least at the pizza place down the street they do), so I figured I'd give it a review.

Liberty is a pale ale. But it's not nearly as citrusy as Sierra Nevada. There are some faint fruit notes, but the hops are the taste that come in boldly (and with a faintly earthy taste to them). There's a little bit of malty sweetness evident here when you get through the initial hop burst, but--true to the American pale style--they are pretty mild. Furthermore, the beer has a very light flavor, which means that the sweetness is pretty much gone in a flash. A bear hint of oranges (I think) lingers on the tongue, along with a substantial dose of hops hops hops.

What makes this beer pretty remarkable is that it can be so light bodied and yet so flavorfully satisfying at the same time. It's damn cold outside, and this is definitely a summery beer, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't go for a stout. Sometimes a bold enough summer beer is exactly what a dreary winter night calls for.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Moylan's: White Christmas Spiced Lager

I reviewed a Christmas themed brew in November, so I see no reason why I can't continue with the holiday spirit into January. Moylan's Brewery taps into the season's festivities by evoking images of 'white Christmases'. This marketing strategy is kinda humorous because of my twenty four December 25ths in Marin County, I've never seen any snow.

Moving past the label, Moylan's tries to match the hearty foods of the winter holidays by releasing a spiced lager. Normally breweries create winter warmers or spiced ales to combat the cold months and rich foods of winter. I was excited to try something different.

This lager is not as spicy as you would expect. There definitely is an orange flavor at the start. And after the beer warmed up a little, malty tastes and peppery flavors begin to emerge. Finally there is an apple juice flavor. That all sounds like a lot, but most of these sensations were quite subdued. If served separate from the bottle, you might be able to convince a drinker that this beer was a traditional lager. That all being said, it's not a bad lager. The malt flavors are light and sweet. Despite the fact the spices were subtle, it's a pretty good beer. I don't know if I'd pair this lager with a Christmas ham on a cold December night, but I'd definitely drink it again. Cheers

Friday, January 2, 2009

Alaskan Brewing Co: Stout

Happy New Years to all beer drinkers out there. If you celebrated 2009 with some drinks I hope you are feeling refreshed and recovered. This past NYE, I somehow mixed in a variety of beverages including tequila and champagne: which I immediately regretted the next morning. Despite some poor alcohol choices, I did manage to enjoy a couple fine beers before the festivities spun out of control.

One of the beers I sampled was Alaskan's Oatmeal Stout. I had this beverage really early in the night (with dinner actually) and thus I was able to sneak in a photo and I can remember enough to give you a solid review.

The first point of note is that the head on this stout is very dark. A heavy tan color with hints of brown. The foam is an indicator of a rich flavor to come. The drink hits the pallate with a sharp coffee and dark chocolate bitterness. The mouthfeel smooths out with some dark malty flavors. Overall I was quite surprised as a lot of oatmeal stouts have a light sweetness and oat flavor. This oatmeal stout reminded me of a traditional or export stout more than the oaty cousin. Maybe that's the reason Alaskan Brew Co. puts 'oatmeal stout' in small letters at the bottom of the label and the singular word 'stout' covers the center of the trade dress. Despite my surprise, it's a pretty tasty stout. It wasn't too thick and I was able to enjoy a couple before moving on to some other less worthy drink choices. Definitely a fine way to prepare for the new year. Cheers.