Friday, October 30, 2009

North Coast Brewing Co.: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

It's been dropping into the 40s at night. While that's not really all that cold for Philadelphia, for a thin-blooded Californian, it's definitely chillier than I'd like. So for me, it's officially open season on porters and stouts.

North Coast has put together a pretty solid brew here. It definitely tends toward the sweeter end of the taste-scale, but there's enough hops in there to keep the sweetness from becoming unpleasant and which come through strong in the finish. A smoky malt taste persists throughout the whole drinking experience as well. Between the intense flavors and the thick mouthfeel, this is a beer that really does a number on your tastebuds. But if you're a fan of stouts, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

This is definitely a quality brew. I don't think I like it quite as much as Stone's or Lagunitas's versions, but that's not to say that North Coast didn't do a fine job on this one. And Rasputin has the distinct advantage of being available in six-pack form. So if you're looking for a quality imperial stout but don't feel like plowing through a 22 oz bomber, Rasputin is your man.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Holland Brewing Co.: The Poet Oatmeal Stout

Last time I tried a brew from New Holland I was very disappointed. Their amber ale just wasn't all that exciting. But everyone deserves a second chance, so I figured I'd give their stout a try.

The Poet is a respectable oatmeal stout. It's got that characteristic dark roasted taste well balanced against a substantial dose of hops. For an oatmeal stout, the malt flavors are pretty subdued. There's a faint sweetness right as the beer first hits your tastebuds, but the hops--particularly leafy-tasting hops--roll in very quickly. The hoppy bitterness and light body of the beer combine to create a very crisp and dry finish, which is somewhat unusual for a stout I think.

All in all a decent offering--not bad at all considering how light-bodied it is. But it's nothing to get too worked up about.

Friday, October 23, 2009

North Coast Brewing Co.: Red Seal Ale

After a hiatus, I'm back to the blog. First up in the "one more year in Philly" edition is a beer I haven't had in forever and that I've bee meaning to try again. Here it is: Red Seal Ale.

I've been gravitating back towards Amber Ales recently, so I figured I'd have at least one more go before cold weather really sets in. North Coast's take on this classic American genre falls somewhere between Rogue's American Amber and Mendocino's Red Tail. In other words, it's got a a very earthy-bitter taste to it, but it's also got a light body and citrusy tang to it. There's a brief rush of smooth malt flavors early, but the bitterness comes in to wipe that out pretty quick. Despite it's oceanic name, Red Seal winds up with a very dry finish.

I didn't really recall liking this brew very much, but on this second try, I actually find that I'm pretty fond of it. It manages to pull off a big earthy-bitter flavor but somehow remains very drinkable. Now that I think of it, this is really more of a springtime brew, so I think it'll probably be awhile until I grab another one. But I'll be looking forward to it all winter long.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elysian Brewing Co: The Wise ESB

I had no idea what I was getting into with this beer. As mentioned in my last post I had never sampled Elysian Brewing Company prior to last weekend. While grabbing a couple of their brews, I snagged a beer called "The Wise". I'm not sure if I was misreading the label, was caught making assumptions, or was simply not observant, but I thought this was going to be a wheat beer. "Weizenbier" in German is wheat beer and I'm sure you've all noticed that breweries like adding 'weiz' or 'weis' at the end of their beer names to indicate the wheat ingredient. So when I saw "The Wise" I guess I just assumed wheat.

After pouring the brew, I realized this isn't a wheat beer. The Wise pours a light copper-brown like color. Actually reading the label, Elysian Brewing Co does conspicuously display "ESB" on the label and describes flavors and ingredients. Quickly readjusting my expectations, I'm thinking that I'm going to get a ultra bitter ale with tons of hops. While there is an initial hop burst, the mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth and thin so as not to overwhelm your palate. I actually find it to be a nice touch with this ESB as I've notice some beers in this genre are too bitter without any balance. The Wise does have some caramel malt to compliment the bitter hops and overall is a quite drinkable ESB. While not your typical extra special bitter, I kinda like it. I guess sometimes you just stumble into something nice. Cheers.

Elysian Brewing Co: Dragonstooth Stout

Hanging out with a fellow beer lover last weekend. It's always fun to grab some beers before we head out for the night. So that was the plan.

My friend suggested some Elysian beer. A Seattle brewery that I had never had before. Having lived in the northwest for a few years I wasn't opposed to trying some Washington brew.

One of the beers we grabbed was the Dragonstooth Stout. Sorta a strange name for a beer. Maybe Elysian Brewing Company was going for a dark name to match this dark beer. This is a thick brown-black brew with a foamy light brown head. No light penetrates the liquid and the taste starts out mighty strong. However this is an oatmeal stout, so despite the roasted coffee flavors there is also a sweet aftertaste. The sweetness is almost a creamy orange-cream type flavor and it balances out the initial bitter taste.

Because of the relative limited availability of this brewery, combined with the strange labels and names, I'm not sure when I would have tried Elysian Brewing Company. But I'm glad my friend suggested it, because Dragonstooth stout is a solid brew and definitely worth trying again. I guess that's what friends are for. Cheers.