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!