Thursday, August 20, 2009

Harpoon Brewery: UFO White

I apologize for the long delay between posts. Even though I haven't written a review in a while, I've been drinking beer and stashing information. I'm finally back from my annual Massachusetts trip so here goes. This time around, I went on an extended vacation and I also ventured into the tri-state area in addition to the cape.

While removed from native soil, I hunt for out-of-state brew. I love comparing east and west coast beer. This year while traveling through the east I sampled some fine craft from
Brooklyn Brewery, Victory Brewing Co, Long Trail Brewing Co, Smuttynose Brewing Co., and Cape Cod Brewing Company.

But while relaxing on the coast, I always try to drink a Harpoon brew. As long as I can remember Harpoon Brewery has placed their beer on the shelves of Mass liquor stores. This year I went with one of their UnFiltered wheat Offering; or UFO for short. Harpoon has a variety of unfiltered wheats and my brother and I snagged the 'white' ufo. The white is a witbier with a soft orange flavor throughout. The beer is brewed with orange peel and coriander but the rind represents the prominent flavor. Besides the orange flavors, the beer tastes more like a pale wheat than a witbier with bready and yeasty flavors.

The white is a great summer beer to cut the heat and refresh the pallate during the humid east coast summers. I must say I really enjoyed this beer and overall I loved sampling most of the east coast breweries that I found. However, even when the novelty effect of trying new beers has run out, I still probably reach for a Harpoon. I've enjoyed all of their beers that I've tried and I'm looking forward to more next year. Cheers

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mendocino Brewing Co.: Red Tail Ale

This post has been a long time coming. Red Tail has been a consistent favorite of mine for several years now. For a long time I claimed it was my favorite beer period, and while I'm not sure what my "all time favorite" is at the moment, Red Tail is certainly still in the running.

Red Tail is an amber ale, but one that definitely tends toward the lighter and hoppier side of the genre. It has a citrusy flavor that is strongly suggestive of Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, and in fact, when I first had this brew way back in the day, I mistook it for a pale. You could almost describe this beer as an amber-pale hybrid, given how strongly hopped the brew is and how mild the malt flavors are. But while Red Tail is substantially lighter than your typical amber, it has a distinctive toasted barley flavor that places it firmly within the limits of the amber genre. The beer also boasts a light body, plenty of carbonation, and a dry finish, which add up to make it quite refreshing and very drinkable.

There's no special subtle flavor that makes Red Tail such a hit in my book. Rather, Red Tail's success comes from its ability to balance bold citrusy hops against a lightly toasted malt flavor in a way that brings out both flavors. It is the kind of simple but classic combination that is immediately enjoyable but never gets old. If I haven't imposed this one on you before, do yourself a favor, and grab a six pack for yourself.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Black Diamond Brewing Co.: Steep Trail Amber Ale

I've been meaning for quite some time now to write a review of a beer from my hometown's local brewery. Black Diamond actually hails from neighboring Concord, CA, but their first stab at a brewpub was located in Walnut Creek, so that's close enough. I'm quite sure that none of you have ever heard of it, but Black Diamond has actually put out a couple of quality brews. This time around, I've gone with their amber.

Steep Trail is a very hoppy amber. The hops hit you up front and linger on for quite a while. There is a faint but persistent carmelly malt flavor that compliments the hops quite nicely, though in the end this is still a hop-dominated brew. A light body and substantial carbonation make this a very refreshing amber, and helps prevent the bitterness from becoming overpowering.

At the moment, I haven't seen this beer outside of Walnut Creek and Concord, so a recommendation isn't going to accomplish much. But I am still happy to put in a plug for the home team. And if they ever grow beyond their humber Contra Costa County roots, remember, you heard it here first.