Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rogue: Dead Guy Ale

Rogue originally created this ale to celebrate day of the dead. But what began as an obscure seasonal celebration ale quickly became Rogue's flagship brew. The skeleton-man label gives this brew a unique look, which is appropriate, since Dead Guy has an equally unique taste.

To the naked eye, Dead Guy is rather unassuming. It has a clear golden color and a quickly-dissipating head. But the taste is subtle and complex. It starts off with a dry toasted malt taste, but an earthy hop flavor follows quickly. The hop bitterness is accented by an almost peppery spiciness. At some point in there I think I can taste a faint citrus-sweetness, though it is hard to identify amidst the persistent hoppiness. It is very light bodied and moderately carbonated, which leaves you with a crisp but noticeably bitter aftertaste.

Dead Guy combines a number of elements that makes it drinkable in juts about any situation. It has the crispness and light-body that you want in a summer brew, but it also boasts a bold combination of malts and hops that is more suggestive of a cold-weather ale. It is complex enough to be a sipping ale, but also light-bodied enough to be a session beer (though the bold flavor might eventually bowl you over).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Victory Brewing Co.: Donnybrook Stout

It's started to warm up finally, but it's still plenty cold out for a stout. I went with another offering from Victory, since their Storm King didn't disappoint. This one is totally different, but equally respectable.

Donnybrook is a stout made in the image of Guinness Draught. It's got a super-smooth mouthfeel, is only mildly bitter, and has a very dry taste. It's a tad bit maltier than it's Irish counterpart, and as a result it comes across a little bit sweeter. But it's definitely closer in spirit to Irish stouts than to your big, bold, malty American varieties.

Maybe my tastebuds are not properly attuned to appreciate Irish stouts, but I did find that this brew a little bit boring in the end. It's very well balanced however, and is perhaps the first stout I've had that could really qualify as a session beer. So take it for what it is: a no-frills, back-to-basics, and eminently drinkable beer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery: 90 Minute Imperial IPA

Following Hofer's lead, tonight I went out of my price range and outside my locality to enjoy a fine beer . Now omnipresent at liquor stores on the west coast, I could no longer resist picking up some more bottles of Dogfish Head. Hof introduced the readership to this Delaware brewery a ways back and even let the people out west know when Dogfish Head beers started popping up in select bars and stores up and down the left coast (see older posts). Recently I began seeing Dogfish Head so often in liquor stores but continued to purchase in moderation because it's a pricey brew ( a four-pack going for as much as $13). After months of enticement and continued expansion, I finally broke down and picked up a few of their beers that I had yet to try.

Reaching back into the wallet, I decided to pick up some of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute Imperial IPA. This beer is a double india pale ale with a 'single constant 90 minute hop addition'. Throw in an extra dry hopping stage and you have one hoppy beer. The hops provide an excellent lacing to the brew and a thick head. After you pull some liquid through the foam, believe it or not the taste starts out with a strong malt splash and then eventually changes into a sweet hop flavor. As the beer warms you begin to taste woody and butter hop flavors and a slight alcohol taste. It's a really tasty imperial IPA and not nearly as boozy as some other 9% offerings.

Overall this brewery makes some interesting and fun craft beer. I have been sending this article about the brewery to all my friends . Even if you're not into Dogfish Head's strange brewing tactics and unique recipes it's a great read and will add to your beer knowledge. So while, I don't often stray from my west coast brews, Dogfish Head is a welcomed change of pace. Cheers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brasserie d'Achouffe: La Chouffe

If you couldn't figure it out from the name, this one isn't just a Belgian-style beer, it's a Belgian-brewed beer. And while it's a bit outside my normal price range, it's also the kind of brew that merits top dollar now and again, especially if you can find it on tap. May I present, La Chouffe.

La Chouffe is an abbey-style Belgian ale, in the same vein as Leffe. However, this brew definitely one-ups Leffe, as well as pretty much any American-brewed abbey ale that I can think of. Like most abbey ales, this brew has a faint sweetness about it. Ususally, this is tempered by a very earthy hoppiness, but La Chouffe's hops are a bit more muted. This seems to work because the sweetness has also been scaled back, perhaps because the malts are toward the dry end. The real treat here is a faint spiciness and subtle fruit flavors, similar to what you might taste in a witbeir. It's very light-bodied and well-carbonated, lending the brew a pleasant fizziness and muting the aftertaste very effectively.

All in all this beer is a real treat. There's a ton of flavors packed into this one, but they are all balanced really well. Probably the best Belgian beer I've had to date.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Magic Hat Brewing Co.: Roxy Rolles

Back to the first great brewery I found when I came east. As I've already mentioned, I'm a big fan of their flagship #9 brew: it's got a snappy flavor and is really drinkable. But sometimes you're in the mood to crank up the flavor to something a bit stronger. Apparently Magic Hat read my mind, because Roxy Rolles, their "hoppy amber ale," does just that.

Like it's not-quite-pale counterpart, Roxy Rolles boasts a light body, faint citrus flavors, and a lot of carbonation. But the malts and hops have been cranked up on this one, so that there's a lot more flavor to go around. Their marketing it as an amber is a bit dubious--it looks like a light amber ale, but it isn't nearly as malty as your standard amber ale. Especially behind the substantial hops, the malt flavors are pretty well hidden. They come through just enough so that you taste a faint roasted sweetness on the back of your tongue, which actually compliments the fruit flavors quite nicely. The light malt-high hops combo also leaves you with a rather pleasant aftertaste of a clean hop bitterness on the edges of your tongue and a lingering sweetness in the middle.

I have to say, I'm a bit surprised that Magic Hat doesn't push this as their flagship instead of #9. Granted, the two brews bear more similarities than differences, so only people with a bad beer habit are really going to prefer one to the other. But in my estimation, Magic Hat has really scored a ringer here. Pick one up and check it out.