Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Schooner Exact Brewing Company

This will be the first time I've reviewed a local brewery, and what better place to start than Schooner Exact Brewing Company? Based in the SODO district of Seattle (SODO, or South of the Dome, refers to the ex-home (The Kingdome) of the Seattle Mariners, which previously stood where Qwest Field is now sitting) the distric is just South of downtown Seattle for those of you not familar with the area. The Story of Schooner Exact begins three years ago and involves the current owners bouncing around between several locations, brewing extremely small batches, and sharing space with other local breweries, until finally evolving from a nanobrewery (yes that is a real term) into the 15 barrel system they now operate. It's a great story. And now everyone is able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. And what delicious fruits they are!

The brewery is located in a rather non-descript location not easily spotted from nearby 1st Ave South. Despite being armed with a GPS it was difficult for us to find. It's nestled in between a clump of businesses, neighbors a Vespa dealership and is tucked away neatly in a little corner. The entrance to the taproom is quite inviting and upon sitting down I felt at ease. The bar and tables are nice, and the bartender even more so. The taproom meshes directly with the stainless steel tanks used for brewing; everything is contained in one large warehouse. At the time of my visit, Schooner Exact had eight different beers on tap; before this I had yet to try any of them. One thing I immediately noticed was the fact that they offered a complete array of glass sizes and options for tasting and sampling their beers. Many beer establishments offer only a few options for glassware and I enjoyed having so many. It's not always that I want a full pint. They also had a sampler, which I am realizing is not always an easy thing to find. I like when breweries cater to their customers needs, which should be the ultimate goal, in my opinion.

The Brewery: Schooner Exact Brewing Company
The Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Beers on Tap: 5 Regular Handles and 3 Rotating

Upon embarking on my sampling tour the three rotating ales were explained to us; the Puget Soundian Dark Ale (by the way, Puget Sound is the large body of water to the west of Seattle) is a CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA) and the brewers have utilized Midnight Wheat, which is used to lend dark color to a beer without adding burnt or bitter flavors. I thought this was quite intriguing and upon tasting the beer thought it was quite unique in that the roasted bitter flavor usually present in these ales was not present to compete with the flavor from the bittering hops. I enjoyed this one a lot.

The next ale was Hoppy the Woodsman. Sounds like an interesting enough name to me, and it was explained to us that Hoppy the Woodsman was really Hoppy Holidays (their winter ale), that had been sitting inside a bourbon barrel for an entire year. I'm not sure how long barrel-aged beers typically sit in cask, but this beer had definitely achieved a complexity I had never tasted before. Perhaps because the previous bourbon barrel aged beers I've tasted have all been highly dark and alcoholic and this one just happened to be a bit lighter bodied and contained less dark malt? I'm not sure, but if I had to venture a guess this would be it. Perhaps it allowed the oak and vanilla and charred nature of the bourbon barrel to rear its head and dominate the nose and flavor of the beer. I'll be honest, the nose was incredible; the woody oak, vanilla, and caramel was intoxicating and the taste was right on par with the nose. I really enjoyed this one.

The last was the Skidmark Ale (on tap and currently replacing the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale) which was brewed for this years Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. Hints of coffee, roasted malt, floral and bitter hops come to mind with this CDA. Very well balanced and drinkable, Schooner Exact knows how to brew a good Black IPA.

Continuing on with the tasting tour I really enjoyed their Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen, which I thought was more along the lines of a Belgian Wit. Spicy, crisp and refreshing, all excellent qualities you want to see in a wheat beer; I thought it would be perfect for sipping on a hot summers day. Their King Street Brown Ale was another of my favorites. Following the style it is malty, nutty, but not overly sweet, and still found a way to finish with a nice amount of hop bitterness. I thought the finish was the defining characteristic for this ale and to date may be one of my top picks for Brown Ales.

Overall I would rate my experience at Schooner Exact very high. The staff was welcoming and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere set the tone for an enjoyable evening. I like the fact that they offer many options for pour sizes as opposed to just a few. Oh and they also have really good beer :]

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dogfish Head Brewing Company - Palo Santo Marron

The beer I am reviewing tonight is from Dogish Head Brewing Co. A new brewery here on The Delicious Beer Blog; but most likely not unknown to many craft beer drinkers out there. The new TV show on Discovery Channel (Brewmasters, information found here) follows the owner Sam Calagione on various brewing adventures in addition to chronicling life within a working brewery. They are based in Milton, Delaware, and have been serving up "Off-centered ales, for off-centered people" since opening their doors in 1995. Sam is credited with growing the smallest craft brewery in the nation to the 24th largest in record time, and now enjoys a worldwide reputation and penchant for serving up and brewing some of the most unique, and highest quality ales on the planet. Dogfish Head is best well known for their 90-minute IPA, Punkin Ale, Midas Touch, Raison D'etre, and more recently (due to the show) Bitches Brew. They now brew over 31 different beers throughout the year. A full list can be found here.

A little background information on Palo Santo Marron: It is listed as a brown ale, but perhaps a better category would be imperial brown ale. At 12% abv, it is not to be taken lightly. The "Palo Santo" or "holy stick" in spanish, refers to the type of wood used to age the beer. Dogfish Head Brewing Co has constructed a 10,000 gallon tank composed entirely of this Paraguayan wood. According to the interwebs, Palo Santo is found in South America in both the interior regions of Paraguay and Argentina, and is used for incense, brewing tea, ancient inca religious rituals, and even possibly for wine production. It is prized because it is extremely hard and durable. Demand for the wood has since fallen off because of the modern technological development of alloys and other more durable polymers, but is still listed as an endangered species. For the brewer the likeable traits come from its ability to lend caramel-like and vanilla-like notes to beer. The "Marron" in the name of the beer means "brown" in spanish.

Name: Palo Alto Marron
Category/Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 12%
IBU: 50
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Unknown
Bottled: 07/14/10
Bottle Size: 12 oz

The Pour: Nice and dark, might be slight mahogany/slight red orange brown coloration around the edge of the glass, but not much light penetrating this one. Light tan thin head, a little lacing. Looks like the kind of beer I want to drink.

The Nose: Vanilla, sweet, malt, caramel, some spice-like notes. Cinnamon? Alcohol, almost warms my nose (It's 12%) sweet and delicious. Smells like warm-fresh-out-of-the-oven spice bread. Maybe some ginger. Smells incredible, I want to drink it real bad.

The Taste: Brown sugar, malt, caramel. Alcohol travels up the nose. Vanilla, spices and bitterness midway through. Smoke on the finish? Or is that just the wood coming through? Slight bitterness, roastiness, and cocoa powder on the finish. Woody/reedy notes, especially on the finish. Warmth on the back of my throat. Full bodied, light to medium carbonation...

The Verdict: Very nice offering. Difficult to ascertain the brown ale qualities in this one, and at 12% it's a huge beer, and should be consumed over a long period of time. The vanilla and caramel was very nice and evident from the intial testing of the nose. Definitely roasty with hints of chocolate interspersed, very similar in body and flavor to that of an imperial stout. Quite a unique beer, considering the story behind it and the construction of the 10,000 gallon open-air wooden tank using Paraguyan wood. If you can track this one down you might give it a shot for that reason alone. It should be great for sipping on late-night or sharing with a friend ;]

Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Midnight Sun T.R.E.A.T Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter

From Midnight Sun Brewing Company comes the T.R.E.A.T (The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment) Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter; an ale brewed with: Pumpkin, Cocoa Nibs, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves. A chocolate pumpkin ale is something I've always wanted to try. And when I ran across this ale at a market down the street from where I live, I had to buy it. Since I have just reviewed the Midnight Sun Brewery, I will not review it here (you can find it here). And so without further adieu, the T.R.E.A.T :]

Name: T.R.E.A.T Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter
Category/Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 7.8%
IBU: 30
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Pale, Carafa, Chocolate
Hop Types: Fuggles
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Pumpkin, Cocoa Nibs, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 22 oz

The Pour: Deep mahogany, at first glance looks black, but upon further inspection, looks as though it is filtered and dark red/maroon when held up to the light. The head is tan, off-white, thin and fading, some lacing.

The Nose: Sweet bubblegum, cocoa powder, banana, and notes of cola. Nutmeg, chocolate, spice bread...swirling reveals the deeper hidden pumpkin and cinnamon and some wheat bread...smells quite nice.

The Taste: Quite complex. Cola and clove initially. Pumpkin and chocolate, slight bitterness. Spices, nutmeg and clove mostly, a little cinnamon, banana bread on the finish. Heavy on the mouthfeel, bready and dry, dominated by pumpkin, surprisingly not much chocolate or roasted character as the color suggests. A lingering spice and pumpkin infused finish......

The Verdict: A very complex beer there is no doubt about it. So many different flavors and aromas present: banana, pumpkin, cola, chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon. Personally, the beers I have tried containing actual pumpkin tend to leave an odd aftertaste in my mouth, and this beer was no exception. The flavor was complex but I am not a big fan of the lingering pumpkin squash-like flavor, for me I feel it throws everything off. Regardless It's an interesting offering. Most likely you'll either love it or not at all. There is no middle ground. If you have never tried a chocolate pumpkin ale, you may try and find a bottle of this. It has been in the lower 48 since late october but I've only seen it in one store :]

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Midnight Sun Brewing Company

Out of all of the breweries I visited in Alaska, I would have to say that Midnight Sun was the highlight of the entire trip. This was true for one reason, and one reason alone: superior beer.

Now allow me to take a step back, and explain a little bit about Midnight Sun. It is located in South Anchorage, and it is one of four breweries in Anchorage. They've been brewing beer since 1995 and have been on the forefront of innovative brewing ever since. Never before have I seen so many unique beers brewed and offered by one establishment. They take traditional styles and do amazing things with them. This is what defines them as a top brewery in my opinion. So often I find myself in small breweries drinking the same thing everyone else is offering. It is quite refreshing to find a brewery doing things no one else has thought of. I think this fact, more than any other is why I enjoyed Midnight Sun so much.

At the time of my visit they had 14 beers on tap. The variety was mind boggling. Let me walk you through their list (I'll highlight a few of my favorites): Midnight Sun Kolsch, Kodiak Brown Ale, Sockeye Red IPA, Oosik Amber Ale, Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter, Panty Peeler Tripel, Mayhem Belgian Double IPA, Hop Dog Double Wheat IPA, CoHoHo Imperial IPA, Gluttony Triple IPA, 2nd Hand Smoke, The New Black, Pride, and Head Banger.

These beers are from one of several lists on the site. These lists include their Year-round beers, Seasonals, Specialties, Collaborations, a new special series released every year (this year the Pop Ten series, and in past years Crew Brews, Seven Deadly Sins, and Planet Brews) the Obliteration Series, as well as a Commemorative Series.

I was only able to sample six of their 14 options (36 ounces of beer) and for me it was a bit difficult to settle on only six when I'd so many interesting and unique options sitting in front of me. After much deliberation I settled upon these six: (from right to left in the photo) The Panty Peeler Tripel, The New Black Belgian Black Sour, Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter, CoHoHo Imperial IPA, Gluttony Triple IPA, and Second Hand Smoke. All of these beers were excellent but I'll only highlight a few, since this post is growing rather long...

Gluttony Triple IPA: This caught my eye because I had never seen a triple IPA, let alone an IPA with 200 IBU's. Initial flavors were orange marmalade, pine, and bursts of citrus. At 10.5% the mouthfeel was suprisingly light. The beer dissipates nicely on the tongue, and as expected, contains a huge hop presence all the way through. It was not syrupy, not overly resiny, great balance, and has a nice spicy bite. It finishes with a nice lingering hop bitterness. Incredibly well hidden alcohol for 10.5%!
Second Hand Smoke: The idea behind this ale was quite interesting; this fact combined with my love of smoked beers is ultimately why I decided to try it. To brew this beer the brewers used spent grains from a previous smoked beer to produce this one. I like that. And it was a really solid brew. It had a lovely dark tan head. The flavor was sweet, with slight alcoholic notes. The smoke was evident initially, and midway through with a nice roasty finish. Definitely something unique you don't see everyday.
The New Black: The New Black, up until now, is the most incredible beer I have ever tasted. The New Black is a black Belgian-style sour ale, half-aged in Cabernet Savignon barrels, half-aged in Bourbon barrels, with the addition of Black Currants. It is a sour ale, so the yeast strain used to produce this beer is Brettanomyces. The complexity and flavor profile was out of this world; something new each and every sip. Initially the nose is astrigent, sour, hints of red wine and fruit present. Midway through the tangy fruity sourness fades to roastiness. Hints of vanilla and oak, and the finish is all dark and roasty. There was no doubt about it. My favorite beer ever, hands down.
Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter: I had to include this one in here simply because it remains my favorite coffee beer, and you should definitely go try and find a bottle if you enjoy coffee beers.

All in all as I stated before, Midnight Sun was my favorite stop on the Alaska Brewery Tour. The ales and ingenuity really amazed me. If you happen to see their brew in stores, go ahead and buy a bottle and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stone Brewing Co - Double Arrogant Bastard

Today I am bringing you the review of a beer I have only sampled and until now, had never had the opportunity to purchase. For quite some time now it had been eluding me. It was something I had talked about trying and finally, randomly found a bottle down the street from where I live at a local market: Central Market (which I might add has a great beer selection). The name of this beer is: Double Arrogant Bastard. And it's from Stone Brewing Co. If you've never seen it's younger, smaller, much less aggresive sister (and honestly, this is saying a lot) Arrogant Bastard then you should do yourself a favor and track one down and taste the amazingness that is Arrogant Bastard.

I remember the first time I tasted the Bastard. A friend and I saw it in the store, and after reading the name, decided it sounded like a cool beer and wanted to try it out. We split one in the parking lot of a bowling alley. I remember thinking how awfully disgusting it tasted. That was before I enjoyed beer. And a year or so later I had acquired a taste for the brutally hoppy and brutally strong. Arrogant Bastard achieves this. I can now say that Arrogant Bastard is one of my favorite beers. Reading the back of the bottle I thought it was quite humorous that it reads: "This is an aggresive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth." I think that just entices you to crack one open. But please be forewarned, the words hold true. It is quite aggresive. But I love it. And so if you have tasted the Arrogant Bastard and you know what I am talking about, the only thing left for you to do is track down a Double Arrogant Bastard and give it a taste.

The reverse side of the bottle is quite similar to Arrogant Bastard. Multiple warnings about the potency of this ale, it talks at length about how the majority of America has been brainwashed into thinking that beer advertisements on TV are simply attempts to force their watery thin American lagers into the masses, and that drinking beers like this is attractive, but that these beers are complete shite. And if you enjoy these beers you won't like Double Arrogant Bastard. Highfive to that in my opinion. In any case after picking up the bottle, it sat on my counter for 3 or so days before I decided to crack it open. It sounded like one mother of an ale, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint. Since I have previously consumed and talked of the amazing Stone Breweing Co I will not do so during this review. Please refer to previous reviews if you feel the need to educate yourself on Stone Brewing. Ok so here we go....

Name: Double Arrogant Bastard
Category/Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 11.2%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Unknown
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 22 oz

The Pour: Clear, filtered, ruddy reddish brown, orange magenta. Definitely along the lines of a red ale. Head is white and thin, retention is poor. Slight lacing.

The Nose: Initial notes of malty cereal, wheaties, sharp burst of sweetness, is that fruit? Cherry perhaps? Candy sugar, slight hints of orange. Swirling reveals something more, chocolate? A little roasted malt, and slight hint of alcohol (thought it would be more noticeable considering it's 11.2%).

The Taste: Initially bitter, light body disappates on the palate. Really smooth, warming of the mouth nose and throat. Bitter from start to finish. Somewhat malty. High alcohol character comes through here. I'm detecting some caramel toffee-like notes, a little roast and maybe orange peel. Nice hoppy spicy explosion in the mouth. Not overly heavy, which is quite surprising.

The Verdict: It's a huge effing beer. Let me say this first. I had to spread out the consumption over the course of a couple of hours. In my opinion this would be best shared with a friend ;] but if you're daring, you could take it down on your own. Just make you sure you've got something on your stomach. No joking around with this one, it definitely packs a whopper of a punch. All hops and bitterness. The back of the bottle is spot on with this one. It's massive and brutal. But perhaps even overly so. If you can find one, prepare for one hell of a ride :]

Oh and also, I consumed this beer at room temp. If you want to taste the true flavor of a beer this is the best way to do so.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, October 22, 2010

21st Amendment Brewing Company - Fireside Chat (Yes like FDR)

Hello hello everyone! Here I am, taking a break from writing about the amazing breweries to the north, by throwing in a random brew review. This time from a new brewery and also something I never thought I'd see on here, a beer from a can. And yes you heard me right! I am in fact reviewing a canned beer tonight.

Ok so what gives? A canned beer? Really? I know what you're thinking. Probably you are thinking exactly what I was originally thinking. The classic mindset and general association of cans with cheap beer. And it's easy to see why one would make that association: walking down the beer aisle of your local supermarket, the majority of the cheap, flavorless, watery american lagers, and cheap malt liquor comes in cans. A funny story: while I was traveling in Belgium touring the brewery in Brugges, the woman giving the tour (quite a stern and serious woman) stated quite forcefully, that good beer comes only from bottles, and never from a can. I remember thinking how right she was. So how could it be true that good canned beer actually exists? Good question. Let me attempt to explain.

Are there benefits to storing beer in a can? There certainly are. Most notably by better preventing exposure to heat, oxygen, and light. Beer stored in glass bottles of the dark brown variety are good at preventing exposure to light and the other two varieties, green glass and clear glass are ok, but sit at the bottom of the protection spectrum. Clear and green bottles are more often associated with beer not intended for cellaring (storing for long periods of time). Brown glass is better than green or clear, but purportedly, the can takes the cake for best protection and overall preservation of freshness.

What kinds of beer can I find in cans? Another good question. The varieties are all over the board. You can now find everything from IPA's to winter spiced ales, Coconut Porters to pale ales, and even Imperial Stouts. The truth is, canned beer has every bit of variety one might hope to find from bottles. Obviously the more popular route is the glass bottle, but more breweries are exploring the world of canned beer. There are approximately 30 craft breweries in the US currently distributing beer in cans, and 16 in Canada. To list a few more well-known: Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment, and New Belgium all distribute beer in cans.

Quality canned beer for the time being remains a mystery for most people, and It may take some time before the general public accepts that quality and cans can in fact go hand in hand. It took me a while to branch out and crack open a can of beer. This current sampling tonight, is the 3rd canned beer I've had. And it's true. It is good beer. So I encourage all of you to give it a shot also. Try something new. Find a can of 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and try it out. Or perhaps a can of Kona Brewing Co's Coconut Porter. Continue with your trend of trying new beers, and reach for a 12 oz can next time, instead of a 22 oz bottle. Ok onto the good stuff!

21st Amendment Brewing Company comes to us from San Francisco, CA and they've been producing beer since 2000. They've won numerous awards and are most well known for distributing their beer in cans. You may have seen these beers in stores: Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat Beer, Brew Free Or Die IPA, Back In Black IPA, Fireside Chat Spiced Winter Ale, Monk's Blood Dark Belgian Ale.

Name: Fireside Chat Spiced Winter Ale
Category/Style: Winter Ale
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 45
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Spices
Canned: Unknown

The Pour: Deep reddish brown, filtered, head is light brown and thins quickly. Head retention is poor, and lacing is non-existent.

The Nose: Sweet and malty initially, sour acetic acid notes, something heavier, dark roasted chocolate perhaps? Some spice, nutmeg, hints of coffee and cereal. Swirling reveals more depth and layers; a definite earthiness becomes noticeable. Do you think it will taste the same? Let's find out...

The Taste: Initially sweet and roasty, as the nose suggests. Bitterness and spice. Deep earthlike flavors, dirt and moss are predominant. Cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy on the tongue midway through and near the end. A slight roasted finish along with a slight lingering bitterness. Mouthfeel is light, not overcarbonated, not a heavy beer, slight alcoholic notes and warming of my throat. I kind of like this beer a lot. And it definitely got better as I worked my way down the glass.

The Verdict: My first canned winter ale. And a spiced winter ale at that! Really a nice offering. I didn't feel the spice was overpowering as with some spiced ales I've sampled in the past. It was well balanced, had characteristics of a darker heavier ale, but is not a high gravity ale by any means. Very drinkable and very much a nice ale for a cold winters night...makes me want to snuggle up by the fire and have a long conversation :] go try one!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homer Brewing Co.

Finally I am getting around to reviewing the southernmost brewery we visited during my visit to Alaska. It's in Homer, AK, and ironically enough, the name of the brewery is Homer Brewing Company, go figure eh? Upon first arrival to the city, the brewery was closed and so we had to wait until the following afternoon to make a visit. We sufficed ourselves to purchasing a growler of Homer Brewing Co's Scotch Ale at a local specialty beer store: The Grog Shop (which I might add, had one hell of a selection for being so seemingly isolated on the Kenai Peninsula). We headed out to the end of Homer Spit (which is where our campsite was) and made a pit stop at the world renowned Salty Dawg Saloon. Since we were looking for Homer Brewing Co beers, we noticed they had a couple available. We both ordered a bottle of Bitter. At first glance I thought they'd be arriving to us in specially designed totally unique bottles, but upon closer inspection it turned out they were using recyled So-be Bottles! Kind of funny and kind of cool at the same time. We ended the night around a campfire composed of driftwood, right on the beach, taking pulls from a growler of locally brewed Red Scotch Ale. Yeah, pretty awesome.

When we woke up the sun had cleared every last bit of fog and for the first time I was able to see the surrounding mountains. Amazingness. We quickly headed into town to get some breakfast at The Caribou Family Restaurant, which to my surprise served something I had never seen before: sourdough pancakes. Delicious. Oh and I also ordered Caribou sausage.

The Brewery: Homer Brewing Company
Location: Homer, AK
Beers on Tap: 5 Regular Handles & 4 Seasonal/Specialty

In any case we were quickly headed off to Homer Brewing Company (which opened at noon). Upon entering the facilities, one quickly realizes how small the operation really is. They operate a 7-barrel system and more or less everything is contained in one small out of the way warehouse. Considering how small Homer is, it is very well hidden, and took Thomas' keen eye to spot it. Walking into the brewery there is a small gift shop, and at the far end is a countertop, where someone was waiting to greet us, and offer us our choice of two complementary samples. They offer a smattering of core brews which include: a pale, bitter, scottish, porter, and an oatmeal stout. Additionally, they offer four seasonal/specialties, which includes, an imperial stout, oktoberfest, barleywine, and celestiale (a belgian style spiced ale).

The brewmaster Steve McCasland was there and we spoke with him at length about the brewery, the history, its' goal, and where it was decidely headed. He explained that they chose the name: Homer Brewing Company, because they wanted it to represent the place they called home. He also explained they had no plans to expand production, they enjoyed being a small operation. He showed us their old and very unique kegs which contained a "bung hole" (and yes I am sure this is where the current present day version originates from) through which he could place a muslin sack with extra hops to dry hop the beer while still in the keg. Their motto is to brew and offer fresh country style ales. And this is exactly what they do. Upon tasting their beer it is apparent that each one tastes exactly like a homebrewed beer. I suppose this is what makes it a unique brewery. They have found their niche and plan to stay put. After all isn't that what life is all about? Figuring out what you want, reaching it, and being happy once you've gotten there?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back In Action: Alaska Brewery Tour

Yes it's true. I have decided to come out of retirement and post again to my blog. How long has it been? Ah, the last post was supposedly in April. Don't know if I disappointed anyone by failing to continue to post regularly, but in all honesty, I had no idea if people were reading what I was putting out, or if my words fell short and were lost amongst the millions of other blogs floating around cyber space. We'll see if my pageviews and comments pick up after I begin posting regularly. In any case I installed a little analytics (thanks to google), and was able to see how many people viewed my page, and where they were from worldwide. I've had views from people in India, Brazil, UK, Belgium, Germany, Finland, and Spain. Ironic that I know people in each of those places? Perhaps. Only time will tell. And so without further adieu, I am back, and unveiling something completely different and new...

I am currently typing from my good friend: Thomas Schultz's home outside of Anchorage, AK. Something we talked about doing in the past was a brewery tour around Alaska. While at the time it seemed like a distant, unreachable dream, we're actually doing it. And we've the first selection of breweries out of the way. And as a result I am going to attempt to write about them. I have photos. I have tasted all they have to offer. And I have collected what I deem, adequate information in my head. So here we go, the first attempt at writing about a brewery (something I thought I'd be doing much more of when I first began writing in this blog)....

The Brewery: St. Elias Brewing Company
The Location: Soldotna, AK, USA
Beers on Tap: 5 Regular Handles
4 Rotating/Seasonal/Specialty

The brewery itself is located in a rather nondescript location nestled in the trees next to the highway. The patio out back grabs your attention first, and then the large tanks inside the windows.

Upon entering the actual brewery you are met with a lovely interior reminscent of a Belgian Abbey and a large brick wood-fired oven. The bar top is quite nice, overall a very pleasing atmosphere. And as it was sunny, we elected to sit outside. As our waitress asked what we'd like, I immediately selected the sampler, which as I was hoping, included all of their beers. She informed me of two extra beers, a very strong Belgian Style Tripel (Nimbus Belgian Tripel), and the ever popular: Black IPA. I was excited.

In order from right to left: Even Keel Kolsch, The Farmers Friend Rye Ale, Puddle Jumper Pale Ale, Mothers Milk Irish Stout, Williwaw IPA, Hefeweizen, Nimbus Belgian Tripel, Calypso Red Ale, and lastly the Black IPA. It quickly became apparent that they knew how to brew beer here. Working my way through all of the intial lighter bodied ales, I was satisfied with the flavor profiles of each. Of course what I was really after was coming later.

The first beer that caught my attention was the Hefeweizen (German for: Unfiltered Wheat), but as opposed to most american Hefeweizen, this one reminded me more of a Belgian Wit. It was very light, crisp and refreshing. The spice was there and I really enjoyed this (granted one of my all-time favorite beers is Hoegaarden), it reminded me very much of this beer.

The next beer of note was in fact the Calypso Red Ale, which was brewed with tart cherries. Very distinctive in this ale, but not the sole focus. I liked it very much (but please note: I am a huge fan of cherries). I thought this beer was very well balanced and enjoyed the cherry flavor on the finish.

The Belgian Tripel really intrigued me. They used traditional belgian yeast, and purportedly included 100 lbs of Belgian Candy Sugar into each batch. Lots of sugar, lots of alcohol (at 10.75% they weren't joking around with this one). After traveling through western europe, most notably Holland and Belgium, I felt I had a pretty good knowledge of beers from that region. I was admittedly skeptical beforehand, but after smelling the aroma and taking a few sips I was impressed. If I was in europe drinking one of these, I'd have no idea it was brewed in Alaska. A very well done belgian style ale. I enjoyed this one a lot.

The last: the Black IPA (or as it is becoming known: CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale)). I was skeptical with this one as well. Now don't get me wrong, I love dark ales, and I love IPA's, but to combine the two has always been a difficult thing. How do you blend dark chocolate, coffee, and roastiness with the pungency, flavor, and bitterness of an IPA? The task is made more difficult because all of those initial flavors associated with dark ales imparts its' own bitterness into a beer. The Black IPA's I have had in the past have never quite achieved a well balanced beer where each party is equally represented. This one however, did just that, in my opinion at least. Initial is the dark roasty flavors, midway through there is a burst of smoke, and the finish is somehow hoppy and lingering. This is the first Black IPA I have really enjoyed. I love the unique splash of smoke midway through, and was impressed by the great job done by the brewmaster to achieve this.

During this time of beer sampling, the experience was also enhanced by a great menu. Their pizza is all brick oven wood-fired and delicious. They offer lots of options for pizza, sandwiches, large salads, and offer suggestions for beer/food pairings as well. Overall my experience at St. Elias Brewing Co. was an excellent one. I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed sampling the unique and delicious beer. This place gets my stamp of approval :]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Full Sail Brewing Co - Old Boardhead Barleywine

Hello hello! How's it goin? Pretty good on the homefront I'd say. I am here reviewing another beer and after glancing down at my blog I quickly realized I had fallen into a Stout-IPA trend and quite frankly that had to go. So I decided to do something about it and I am bringing you the review of a barleywine tonight. I believe I have yet to review a barleywine, so I thought that might be just the perfect choice.

Full Sail Brewing Company for those of you who have not read my review of the Grandsun of Spot IPA, is based in Hood River, Oregon. They brew a couple of my favorite brews including: the Keelhauler and Wassail (their winter seasonal beer), as well as a couple of the regulars: Amber Ale, Pale Ale, and the IPA. They also have a seasonal rotation known as the Brewmasters Reserve, and a LTD Limited Edition (Live the Dream) rotation of lagers. Ok, so how about we get down to the good stuff, the actual beer. And more specifically this time around, the barleywine.

Now you might be scratching your head wondering just what the heck is a barleywine. Is it a beer or a wine? Very good question. The answer is simple: it is in fact a beer. Wines rely on fruit for sugar, while beers rely on grain. Because barleywines can become very strong (9 to 13%), similar to some wines, they are called barleyWINES. In fact, barleywines start like any other style of beer: boil the grains, sparge the grains, extract the wort, boil the wort, add hops, ferment, etc etc. Bear in mind however, that usually the amount of grain and hops are greatly increased. In the review to follow you may notice my reference to the vintage of the barleywine (this one in particular is from 2009), this is important because like wines, barleywines can be stored for long periods of time. The inclusion of such a large amount of hops and malt sugar allows for this. The beer will actually continue to ferment and the flavor will continue to develop very slowly. I have seen and heard of people consuming this style of beer 4 and 5 years after the fact (maybe even longer!). So now that you're an expert on barleywines, let's drink one! (5 points to the person who can count how many times I just said barleywine :P )

Name: Old Boardhead Barleywine
Category/Style: Barleywine
ABV: 9%
IBU: 91
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Crystal and Centennial
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: None
Bottled: October 2009

The Pour: Dark reddish amber, copper, head is off-white, but doesn't stick around too long.

The Nose: Spicy, sweet, lots of malt, green apple, a bit of black pepper, some vanilla? Maybe some hops, sweet and sharp, fresh cut grass perhaps, some floral notes and honey...I'm ready to taste :]

The Taste: Light initial floral notes and spice, alcohol traveling up into my nose, warms the back of my throat...I'm picking up some hints of bourbon, or some other kind of higher alcohol beverage. Lots of green apple on the tip of the tongue. Very light on the carbonation, mouthfeel is smooth, dissipates lightly as it slides over the palate. There is a definite hop presence here and bitterness at the back of the tongue, midway through and near the end. Very interesting offering...

The Verdict: Surprisingly not bad at all for a barleywine. I've had 2 or 3 other barleywines in my life and in the past, the review was mixed. After tasting this one from Full Sail I can honestly say that my faith and desire to purchase a barleywine as opposed to shying away from them when I see them on the shelf at the store has been restored. The flavors were intriguing. I got lots of green apple and vanilla, some spice and the hop presence was spot on. I checked some other reviews online and they were saying lots of fruit, and some other things I didn't pick up at all. Perhaps they were drinking different vintages? No idea, but I suppose everyone differs as far as palate and taste buds are concerned. I also drank this one slowly. I spread out a 22 oz bottle over the course of three hours, otherwise I probably would have been way buzzed, or really drunk. Definitely one to split, or savour slowly, it is suggested these beers accompany a dessert. Anyhow, If you're looking for something different and might be afraid to try a barleywine because of a bad past experience, give Full Sail Old Boardhead a shot, it just might change your mind...

Next up: this guy here.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moylan's Brewing Co: IPA

Hello all! I am here to review a new beer. This time it comes to us from a new brewer (for me), Moylan's Brewing Company based in Novato, CA (nor cal) 30 miles north of San Francisco, and 75 miles south and west of Sacramento. I have seen their brews time and time again every time I'm browsing the beer section at my local QFC. Please note: I am just recovering from a cold that left my nasal passages well clogged, so perhaps you should take this rating with a grain of salt. I don't believe my nose is 100% fully recovered yet and therefore cannot promise my sense of smell (and taste for that matter) to be up to its normal expert standards :P Regardless, I am here and testing out this new beer :]

Moylan's Brewing Co is known somewhat well for pioneering the craft brew trade in nor cal by opening its doors way back in 1989. Since then they have expanded, won numerous awards, and have gained many a follower. As for popular brews on the market, I can only recall seeing this one in my local QFC, but looking at it would seem that other popular brews include: The Dragoons Irish Stout, Imperial IPA, Kiltlifter Scotch Ale, Double IPA, Imperial Stout, Old Blarney Barley Wine, and the Tippery Pale Ale (a more complete list can be found here). I however simply have in my hand, Moylan's India Pale Ale.

Name: Moylan's IPA
Category/Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 70
OG: 1.094
Malt Types: American 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, & Acidulated
Hop Types: Chinook, Simcoe, Columbus, & Ahtanum
Yeast Type: White Labs #001 Chico
Additives: Dryhopped
Bottled: Unknown

The Pour: Murky golden yellow, slight orange hues. Head is weak, lacing most likely non-existent.

The Nose: Initially the aroma is of oranges and brown sugar, a definite trace of sweet malt present as well. Even though the website claims a floral aroma, I think this one is dominated by pine and citrus. Going deeper I am getting some dulled citrus, pine, and grapefruit, as well as some spice, maybe some honey and clove, and something else I can't quite place. I'm detecting some notes of pineapple as well as some kind of heavier meaty notes as I swirl the glass. Smells a bit musty, and maybe even some smokey hints? Quite intriguing I should say.

The Taste: A slight initial sweetness fills the nostrils, but leaves quickly revealing a fairly weak but spicy carbonation. I get a little bit of burnt orange notes and piney sweetness in my cheeks midway through. Definite resiny, piney hop character all the way through to the finish, lingering for quite some time after the last sip. Mouthfeel is light to medium airing on the medium side. Carb is light, kind of tingly; not too heavy, just right. Somewhat dry on the finish but not overly so.

The Verdict: Overall I liked this IPA. It has the bitterness one desires when looking for an IPA, and the spicy piney notes as well. I wouldn't say this is the cleanest or crispest of IPA's I've ever had, but it's not half bad. I thought the nose was most intriguing; notes of orange, smoke, pine, malt, clove, and honey, what's bad about that? I would definitely recommend this for all of the hopheads out there (myself falling into that category) and for those who do not mind the resiny hoppy taste left in ones mouth long after the last sip. As stated above, I found this at my local QFC, but I'm sure you could also find it at PCC, World Market, Whole Foods, or any other specialty beer store :]

Thanks for reading!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Pike Brewing Company: XXXXX Extra Stout

Hello! Here I am again, reviewing yet another beer here. This time I have selected a delicious stout from Pike Brewing Company. They brew their beer in the heart of Pike Place Market, just off of 1st Ave in downtown Seattle. This is the first beer I have reviewed from this particular brewer, but it is not the first time I have sampled their selection. Other beers you may have encountered from Pike include: Naughty Nellie (Golden Ale), or their Kilt Lifter (Scotch Ale). They also produce an IPA, Double IPA, Pale Ale, Weisse Bier, Double and Tripel Ales, a seasonal Holiday Ale, and an Oak-aged Stout.

I have been on a dark beer kick ever since I produced my own porter about a month and a half ago and when I saw this in my local QFC for the first time, knew I had to pick one up and give it a try. So let's do it! Ok here we go.

Name: XXXXX Extra Stout
Category/Style: Stout
ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 65
OG: 1.073
Malt Types: Pale, Crystal, and Roasted
Hop Types: Chinook, Willamette, and Goldings
Yeast Type: English Ale
Additives: None
Bottled: Unknown

The Pour: As is typically the case, this guy is dark and black, really tough for light to penetrate. Do I detect the slightest hint of brown coloration? Perhaps. Looks nice and rich, lovely tan head. This is gonna be a nice stout.

The Nose: Initially sweet and malty. Coffee, dark chocolate roastiness, light smoke, burnt sugar, molasses. Took me awhile to pinpoint it but there is a bit of floral hop presence there in the back...

The Taste: Hops and smoke on the front. Chocolate cocoa, roastiness, lingering bitterness. Light carbonation, medium to full bodied. Smooth, silky mouthfeel. Slight initial sweetness but it disappears quickly and midway through becomes dry and spicy. It has a nice bite. Finish is dry and definite bitter chocolate.

The Verdict: A rather delicious offering from Pike Brewing Co. Lots of good things going on with this stout: light smoke, dark chocolate, and coffee, with a lovely lingering bitterness. This is one brew to be savored; drinkability is not super high, but that is to be expected as this beer is so incredibly dark and rich. Pike says it is available year round, so if you're looking for a good dark and delicious 22 oz bottle of stout to share with a buddy or enjoy for yourself you can't go wrong here...

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Elysian Brewing Company: Avatar Jasmine IPA

Hello! How are you tonight? I am well myself! And I am here to review yet another beer for you. This time I am reviewing a truly local example of Seattle Microbrew, and it is the Avatar Jasmine IPA from Elysian Brewing Company.

We find Elysian Brewing Co in three locations within the Seattle area. The first is located downtown just off of First Ave (Elysian Fields), the second on Capitol Hill, and the third in Tangletown (near Wallingford) in North Seattle.

Elysian brews a full line of available-all-year-long brews, as well as a seasonal line. But if I had to pick one, I would say that Elysian is most well-known for producing the: Immortal IPA. I have not tried the Immortal, but I have tried their Dragonstooth Stout, and must say that I find it to be ridiculously good (perhaps a future review is forthcoming?). I have also sampled their winter seasonal: Bifrost Ale (and don't remember liking it terribly well) but hey, I have always been one for second chances, and third chances, and fourth, and yeah, well you get the picture, so let's have a go...Avatar Jasmine IPA....................

Name: Avatar Jasmine IPA
Category/Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.3%
IBU: 40
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Pale, 45° Crystal, Munich, and Carahell
Hop Types: German Northern Brewer, Glacier, and Amarillo
Additives: Dried Jasmine Flowers
Bottled: Unknown

The Pour: Hazy, dark yellow-orange, coppery amber, thin white head, and not much in the way of lacing...

The Nose: Hops, pine, citrus, straw, flowery, slight malt, sweetness, caramel notes? Yeasty, slightly bready...

The Taste: Hmm, slight initial bitterness, sweet, good combination and balance. Lots of flowers, grass and straw midway through, carbonation is light to medium. The bitterness is not overpowering or dominant and lingers ever so slightly with just a touch of sweetness at the end. This brew totally reminds me of cross between an IPA and a German Lager (like Bitburger Pils), the floral, grassy and straw-like characteristics of this beer reminds me of this.

The Verdict: The drinkability is definitely high and I would say that it should be quite refreshing on a hot summers day. I would estimate an IBU between 40 - 60 for this beer. The flavors are very mellow, not incredibly hoppy, pretty well balanced (although I am a bit of a hop head myself ;] and don't mind super bitter beers) I thought it was a decent brew and it might do well to drink it ice cold (something that I did not do). If you're looking for something different IPA-wise and enjoy a slightly less bitter beer, this is a good bet :]

Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Great Divide Brewing Co - Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

Hello hello! How is everyone? I am back, and this time I'm reviewing a beauty! It comes to us from Great Divide Brewing Company (I reviewed previously Hercules Double IPA from this Brewing Co) and this offering is the oak-aged counterpart to Great Divide's Yeti Imperial Stout. The alcohol content is high: 9.5% and the IBU is 75 so that's pretty high also. Yeah I know what you're thinking, it definitely sounds interesting...add in a splash of vanilla from the oak aging process and it makes for one intriguing combination. This brew was recommended to me by a friend, so let's test it out :]

Name: Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
Category/Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: 75
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Bottled: November 27th, 2009

The Pour: Super dark! The head is light brown/dark tan, nice and fluffy. The beer looks like it's thick and rich. The color is dark. Black. No light penetrates this one; it's black as night. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The Nose: Oh man the nose is incredible! Hops, Dark Chocolate, roasted coffee, Vanilla, some oak/woody notes, maybe some cola notes? Sweet and malty...molasses? This one is gonna be good! Definite roasted character and swirling the glass only enhances the nose. Smells of alcohol, after all it's 9.5%.

The Taste: Oh yeah. Wow. Really intense. I'm drinking this nearly roomtemp and I think this is the perfect way to drink it. Where do I start describing?! Full on heavy mouthfeel, the Vanilla deliciousness rises slowly up through my nose and the 9.5% alcohol feels warm in my mouth. Dark Chocolate, Cacao Nibs, oak. Roastiness midway and all the way through to the finish. Light bubbly carbonation, perfect for a stout. Bitterness, Vanilla midway through and on the finish! The dark roasted, burnt notes are amazing and the lingering bitterness only enhances the desire to drink more (I've only had two sips by the way). High alcohol. Lingering warming on the throat. Lacing is good. Slight smokiness on the finish as well.

The Verdict: This beer basically blew my mind. This one is definitely worth savoring and is more or less, dessert in a glass. What more is there to say? It's a huge stout. Imperial. High alcohol. Massive chocolate, coffee, roasted and burnt notes, as well as vanilla from the oak aging process. It's amazing! A great beer! Instantly one of my favorites. Please go and do yourself a favor and buy a bottle. You really won't be disappointed :]

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wells - Banana Bread Beer

Yes it is true, I am in fact reviewing the beer known as: "Banana Bread Beer" brewed by Wells and Youngs based in Bedford, England, a small city about 50 miles north of London. I have to admit, this is the first beer I have tried from this brewer, although I have seen several other styles at the local QFC like their double chocolate stout. This beer was recommended to me by a good friend, so let's give it a shot.

Name: Banana Bread Beer
Category/Style: English Strong Ale
ABV: 5.2%
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Bottled: Unknown

The Pour: Clear amber-orange, copper, filtered, looks a bit like apple juice. The head is white and quickly disappears. Probably won't be much lacing.

The Nose: Straight up Banana. Like peeling a Banana then inhaling the aroma. Almost smells artificial, like Banana flavored Laffy Taffy. I'm also detecting hints of bubblegum, the nose is very sweet, maybe a slight malt presence, caramel, bready, tough to detect much else behind the Banana aroma. It's a bit overpowering and dominant. Maybe some slight hints of spice?

The Taste: Carbonation is barely noticeable, slight up front, but not much longevity to it. Definite Banana flavor, but in my opinion, the nose leaves a lot to be desired. Surprisingly the flavor is lacking sweetness as the nose suggested, Banana flavor peaks midway through, then slowly fades to the back of the palette...leaves slowly, fades to a bit of bubblegum, spice, and a slight bitterness...kind of flat...was expecting more sweetness...dry finish, medium to light body...quite drinkable if you don't mind the Banana...

The Verdict: The aroma screams Banana, flavor involves Banana, caramel, and slight bitterness. I think it's lacking a bit of sweetness. Kind of reminiscent of a German Weissbier (flavorwise). I think it's intriguing and worth trying at least once, but probably not something I can see myself purchasing more than once...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orval - Belgian Trappist Ale

And so tonight I have decided to finally crack open the bottle of Orval I've had sitting in my closet for the past month or so. As the title says, Orval is in fact a Belgian Trappist Ale. What is exactly a Trappist Ale? Good question. Here is the answer: A true Trappist Ale is a beer brewed by monks who live and work in Trappist Monasteries. There are some 171 Trappist Monasteries in existence today, but only 7 are known to produce beer; six in Belgium, and one in the Netherlands.

Orval Brewery (Brasserie d'Orval) is located in the deep south of Belgium and they have been brewing beer there since 1931. Trappist Breweries also follow strict guidlines (not very different from the German breweries of old with the Reinheitsgebot) set in place by the International Trappist Association. Other well known Trappist Ales include, Chimay and Westmalle. Orval however is distinct from these other ales. They dry hop their beer during the brewing process (drop in mesh bags full of hops) and use a strain of wild yeast known as Brettanomyces, which adds a distinctive sourness to the beer by producing acetic acid during the fermentation process. Now you're an expert on Orval. Now all that is left is to go to PCC and buy a bottle to drink for yourself. I however, have my very own bottle right here in front of me, so let's give it a taste...

Name: Orval
Category/Style: Belgian Trappist Ale
ABV: 5.2 - 7.2%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Pale and Caramel
Hop Types: Hallertau, Styrian Golding, Strisselspalt
Bottled: 02/20/2008

The Pour: Clear dark amber-orange, bubbly, foamy off-white head, nice retention, not very good lacing. Very fizzy carbonation...

The Nose: Straw, slight floral, sweet cotton candy and caramel notes. Swirling produces deeper aromas; yeasty and bready notes. Overall still very sweet, slight bubble gum presence. Notes of apple juice. Smells of old barns and stables other aromas I cannot quite place. Slightly musky and dusty; almost like Orval has captured and bottled air from Belgian farmhouses...

The Taste: Very fizzy carbonation up front, quickly dissipates. The sourness rears its' head, pleasantly sweet, dry finish, very drinkable. Definitely tastes of straw, hay, yeast and bread as the aroma suggests. Sour bubblegum midway through. The body is light to medium. And it has a nice bite to it, and a slight lingering bitterness near the end and on the finish.

The Verdict: Overall a very drinkable brew. I like the slight sourness and slight bitterness. I have yet to try other Trappist Ales, but I would be interested in comparing this to others. I also feel I didn't give this a good review (my nose is slightly plugged, and I just burnt off all my tastebuds by eating french fries that were waaay too hot) so I think I should give this brew another shot and perhaps another review down the road at some point. Overall a fine selection and a great choice if you want to try something new and different :]

Thanks for reading!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Le Merle (The Blackbird) - North Coast Brewing Company

Hello hello! How has everyone been? I know it has been a long time since my last post, but sometimes life just gets in the way. For instance the rest of my life, like photography, painting, traveling, skiing, relaxing, working, sleeping, eating, and brewing my own beer. Sometimes it is just tough to find and keep things balanced. From here on out, I am going to make a more concerted effort to keep things in balance and make more attempts to post regularly on this blog. So stay tuned; I'm making a comeback. Now for the beer!

Today I am reviewing a new brewery: North Coast Brewing Company, out of Fort Bragg, California. When I made attempts to view their website, nothing happened. The page wouldn't load. So A: they either went out of business, or B: forgot to pay the bill to keep their website up and running. I'm kind of thinking it's probably the latter. In any case North Coast Brewing Co is responsible for producing widely known beers such as: Old Rasputin, PranQster, Brother Thelonius, and Red Seal Organic Ale. The brew I am reviewing tonight happens to be a belgian style ale by the name of Le Merle (The Blackbird) Belgian Style Farmhouse (Saison) Ale.

Saison just so happens to be a french word and it means: "Season." Traditionally these beers were produced in Flanders (thus the reason for a Belgian/French combo name on the style) and only seasonally during the summer. Present day we can find and enjoy them year round. Saison ales are usually very fruity with overall good clarity, and big white fluffy heads. They contain lots of spice and herbs to create complex aromas and flavors. They are highly carbonated and typically are light to medium bodied. They are also usually of mid to high alcohol content. And so, without further adieu (adieu, another french word :P ) lets get to the good stuff...

Name: Le Merle
Category/Style: Saison (Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale)
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 24
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown

The Pour: Cloudy hazy dark yellow-orange. Head is off-white; initially fluffy, but quickly fades, and the result is little to no head retention. No lacing whatsoever.

The Nose: Nose is spicy. Bursts of citrus. Orange peel. Spices. Pineapple. Really sweet. Slight muskiness. Butterscotch. Bubblegum. Bready yeast. Makes me want to take a bite.

The Taste: Fizzy carb, quickly dissipates. Yeasty as it spreads over the palette. Spicy notes. Dulled out flavors I can't quite place. Almost makes your mouth water as it hits the back of the mouth. Light to medium body. Definitely sweet and bready; overall I'd say pretty dry. Notes of citrus, orange, pineapple. Slight warming effect on the back of the throat well after the fact...

The Verdict: Overall I would have to say I was slightly disappointed with this brew. I thought the aroma was much nicer than the actual flavor. However, the drinkability is high, surprising for an abv of 7.9%. The alcohol is barely detectable and the body was on the light to medium side. It was quite refreshing and would certainly make a nice summertime brew. I say your best bet to enjoy this one is in the shade on a hot summers day.

Thanks for reading!