Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stone Brewing Co., The Bruery and Elysian Brewing Co. - La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado

Within the world of craft beer, collaborations are a relatively new and exciting development. When collaborations arrive on shelves, beer lovers are eager to purchase and enjoy the new and unique brews. This eagerness stems from the opportunity to try products from breweries that normally aren't distributed in one's area. The, La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado, brought together three outstanding west-coast breweries: The Bruery, Stone and Elysian and gave me - an east-coaster - the opportunity to sample a product from Elysian. With some of the most innovative minds in craft beer working together, the brewmasters from these three breweries tried to create an incomparable pumpkin ale with the use of international ingredients: Fenugreek and Lemon Verbena.
The addition of these uncommon ingredients peaked my interest - how would these ingredients enhance the rich flavor of a pumpkin ale?
This pumpkin ale pours a very dark chestnut color bordering on black. There is a beautiful and alluring opaqueness with a two-finger head sitting frothily on top. There is great head retention that leads to very intricate lacings on the glass.
The aroma was a balance between the bitterness from the hops with a malty sweetness. There were two companions that accompanied this balance: cinnamon and brown sugar.
Even after reading the description on the bottle, my pumpkin ale habituation needed to be suppressed because I was expected traditional pumpkin spices. After a couple of sips, I was able to pick up a nice hop bitterness from the Citra hops. To complement this light bitterness the brewmasters have infused the beer with a toasted-malt character balancing bitterness with sweetness. This sweetness could be due a brown sugar addition which was very present during the initial phase of the taste. As the beer warmed and opened up, the yams become more apparent, but the taste profile lacked a true pumpkin character.  
The mouthfeel was much thinner than I anticipated after seeing a very dark beer enter my glass. There was very little in the way of carbonation, which, if present, may have lead to a more noticeable pumpkin flavor. My wife enjoys wine more than I, and we both noticed a wine-like dryness and finish to this ale.
I appreciate the attempt to produce a distinctive pumpkin ale, but the taste was lacking a true pumpkin flavor. At 5.0%ABV, La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado is very sessionable, however there are many other pumpkin ales/lagers that I would look for first, most notably, The Great Pumpkin Ale from Cambridge Brewing Company.



Monday, December 12, 2011

Somerville Brewing Company (Slumbrew) - Happy Sol

Over the past year, numerous breweries have opened their doors in the bay state; located in Somerville Ma., Somerville Brewing Company (Slumbrew) is one such brewery. Homebrewers first, Caitlin Jewell and Jeff Leiter, refined their products through diligent, experimental work in their brewlab, a 350 square foot facility designed for recipe development. Once theses recipes meet the specifications and demands of Slumbrew brewmasters, they are scaled up for commercial productions at Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, MA. Currently, Slumbrew has a three-beer profile: Happy SolFlagRaiser IPA and Porter Square Porter and the newest, Happy Sol, a hefeweizen, is reviewed here.
Happy Sol pours a hazy-golden color with noticeable orange tints. The bubbly head rises to a one-finger height, but quickly disperses. The dispersal left very little lacings along the sides of the pint glass.
Due to the abundance of blood oranges used in the production of Happy Sol, I was surprised that the aroma wasn't completely dominated by citrus notes. There were two main complementary smells to the orange citrus part of the aroma: yeastiness and subtle spicy pepper. Most likely due to the use of blood oranges, a minor tangy quality was also present.
The initial part of the taste profile pops with coriander. Immediately following this short-lived coriander burst, orange enters into the taste profiles and lingers throughout. To round out the taste, pepperiness is present, but not overwhelming, letting the orange be at the forefront of the taste. During my first sips, the traditional fruit esters (banana) were not present, however as the beer warmed and was agitated, banana esters began to enter the taste profile adding farther complexity.
The mouthfeel was light to medium in body with moderate carbonation. I enjoyed the fullness and smoothness of this hefeweizen, which most likely due to my adoration of silky stouts.
At 5.5%ABV, Happy Sol is bordering on sessionability, which raises its drinkability. Its balance is one of it greatest attributes. The spiciness and citrus are held in check allowing multiple players to shine throughout the taste profile. Finally, at 5.95$ this beer is a truly great deal, so if you see it on the shelf at local MA bottle shop its definitely worth checking out.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Founders Brewing Company - Founders Dry-Hopped Pale Ale

I have always been intrigued by the process of dry hopping and its ability to alter the aroma of a particular beer. The Sam Adams Deconstructed IPA provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the subtle differences between five hop varieties: Hallertau MittelfruhEast Kent GoldingsAhtanumSimcoe and Zeus. With all this hop variety, the Cascade hop is non-existent, however it is the sole hop present in Founders Brewing Company's dry-hopped Pale Ale.
After a very vigorous pour, this pale ale is a light-copper color with a miniscule head. This head immediately dissipated leaving a very thin film of tiny bubbles across the surface of the beer. Within the body of the beer there was an unexpected amount of suspended sediment (most likely from the dry hopping).
The aroma leaving the glass was somewhat disappointing. I was expecting the floral and citrus characteristics of the Cascade Hops to excessively waft from the glass, however the aroma contained a very delicate piney quality mixed with weak citrus (grapefruit) notes.    
The taste profile of this dry-hopped pale ale was very underwhelming. There was more grapefruit quality during the taste than was present in the nose, but lacked a hoppy bite (dry hopping only adds to the aroma). The taste profile was completed with malt character creeping into the taste adding a short-lived sweetness.
The mouthfeel is light to medium in body with soft carbonation. The beer was much more aqueous than I anticipated and liked.
As a fan of Founders Brewing Company, I wanted this beer to be so much more than it turned out to be. I am glad that I had the opportunity to sample this pale ale, but I don't think I would buy this again, however, I could see myself ordering a pint at a local beer bar to see if there was a freshness issue.
An Ok beer from a Great brewery.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bryggeriet Djaevlebryg - Gudelos

As a lover of Imperial Stouts, I am always looking for something new and interesting to try. During my last trip to Granite Liquors located in Weymouth, MA, I was perusing through the amazing craft beer selection when I noticed an imperial stout that I have never come across before, The Gudelos, from the Bryggeriet Djaevlebryg. The Bryggeriet Djaevlebryg (Devil's Brewery), located in Copenhagen, Denmark is composed of four members all who have a degree in associated scientific disciplines (as as science teacher, this is awesome!). The four members of the brewery collaborate to produce "devilishly delightful beers". The Gudelos (Godless) was brewed in association with the Danish Atheist society with a portion of the proceeds going to the organization.
The Gudelos pours a deep, motor-oil black with a very foamy two-finger head. As the heads reached its final retention levels, it created a film covering across the beer's surface. Around the bottom of the head, ruby-red highlights are accentuated when the glass is held up against the light. There are many streams of small-bubbled carbonation that rise to the surface in straight lines. After consuming half a pint, there are lacings that remind me of organic molecules all over the glass.
The aroma of this beer is full of dark-bitter chocolate. To complement the chocolateness of the Gudelos are subtle black licorice notes with a hint of burnt sugar or molasses. To my surprise, this stout, for its very dark color, did not contain a prominent roasted quality.
The taste profile was very layered. The first wave washed chocolate all over the delicious. The second wave contained the black licorice that is present in the aromatics of the beer. The third and final wave (very subtle) of the taste profile reminded me of saturated coffee grains.
I appreciate the lighter mouthfeel of dry stouts, but I truly enjoy the higher viscosity and medium-bodied silkiness of imperial stouts. The Gudelos exudes these qualities exceptionally well. The silkiness contains just the right amount of carbonation leading to a impressively crafted beer.
The is a great imperial stout! If you are as fond of stouts as I am, The Gudelos is a must-try. At 8.9% ABV, I can see myself enjoying many of these devilish stouts during cold New England winter nights.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof - Brettanomyces Lambicus (Berliner Style Weisse)

Walking around my local craft beer store, a small-funky designed bottle caught my eye. Upon further inspection, I found myself giddy with delight because I had stumbled across an authentic, German-brewed Berliner Weisse; My second favorite style of beer after American/Double Imperial Stouts (Yes, I know its weird). Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof (Gose Brewery) is housed in a reconstructed train station that opened in its home of Leipzig, Germany in 1842 connecting this eastern city to the neighboring city of Altenburg. The Gose Brewery produces a few traditional sour German wheat beers, most notably, their Gose (Berliner Weisse). Gose's Brewmaster, Matthias Richter defines this regional style on their website as a beer with a "refreshing, slightly sour taste and is an excellent thirst quencher. It is brewed with the addition of lactic acid, coriander and salt." The site also explains that specific beers are produced solely for international distribution in the United States, therefore I can infer the Brettanomyces Lambicus Berliner Weisse that I purchased is one of these beers.
This Berliner Weisse is a golden-hazy color with a very light-bubbly head. The head dissipated quickly to one side of the glass creating a boomeranged shaped head; After five minutes the head was gone altogether. One of the beer's most noticable qualities is its extreme carbonation. Looking down on the surface of the beer one can see carbon dioxide bubbles penetrating the surface and popping. 
The aroma of the Brettanomyces Lambicus contains both lemon and lime tartness. Most likely due to the addition of Brettanomyces, a wild yeast, a musty quality adds complexity to the aroma. 
The first sip has an initial wave of lemon tartness that is amazingly sour. Once this sourness recedes, an earthiness (grass or straw) enters into the taste profile. Within this second taste, the Brettanomyces rears its funkiness balancing the finish nicely.
The initial level of carbonation was one of the highest levels that I have observed, and it did not disappoint. The bubbles constantly pricked my tongue all over. The body was light and very refreshing. 
This a delicious sour wheat beer. Given the intensity of the carbonation some people may be put off, but to pack that much flavor into a beer with 3%ABV is truly the work of an skilled brewmaster. (Thanks, Matthias! Keep sending your Leipzig Sour Beers to the United States and they will find their way into my glass.)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Boulevard Brewing Company - Saison Brett

Living in Massachusetts, I often complain to fellow beer friends and my wife that Massachusetts lacks brewpubs that create an authentic beer culture. Although Massachusetts lacks enough brewpubs to create an engrained beer culture (in my opinion), we are blessed to have access to an amazing selection of local, domestic, and international craft beer. A few months ago, this selection grew with the distribution of Boulevard Brewing Company into the bay state area. Found in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company located in the mid-western city of Kansas City has developed a cult following within the craft beer community. Much of this fawning is focused towards the Smokestack series especially the Saison-Brett.
Saison-Brett has a beautiful golden-straw color with hues of light orange intermixed. The head was very foamy and had great retention leaving very intricate lacings upon the side of my wine glass. As I held the glass against the light, I quickly noticed that the beer was quite cloudy.
This beer has multiple smells. There is a lemon quality with a slight mustiness that reminds me of extremely fresh plucked fruit. Most likely due to the inoculation of the Brettanomyces, but I can't be sure, there is band-aidy or leatheriness characteristic within aroma.
The initial taste of this beer was amazing for two distinctive reasons: SUPER FUNK and expertly balanced hops at the end of the taste. Within this truly intriguing super funk there are subtle complexities of earthiness, lemon citrus and slight peppery notes. One of the most complex beers I have had the opportunity to enjoy.
The mouthfeel is light-to-medium in body with high levels of carbonation. Some people may not like this amount of carbonation, but I loved it. The constant pricks allowed for the subtle complexities to assert themselves in the taste profile.
Saison-Brett is in a league of its own within American saisons. At 8.5% ABV, its alcohol content is high, but is deliciousness is resounding. Due to its high ABV, all you need is one truly amazing pint.
In the words of RandumInk, "It's Stupid Good!".  


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Allagash Brewing Company - Allagash White

There are many notable breweries located in New England, but Allagash Brewing Company is clearly in the upper echelon. Within this elite tier, Allagash has created a portfolio that is based in Belgian beer styles or an American interpretation of these historic styles. Throughout the development of this amazing portfolio, one beer has remained the staple since Rob Tod open the doors in 1995 -  Allagash White
After a very forceful pour, there is a very big, bubbly head that quickly receded and coated the glass. This witbier was straw-yellow in color and very cloudy. 
The aroma wafting from this beer was very bright and inviting. There is a beautiful marriage between lemon and orange notes. As the beer warmed, new fruit esters of pear and apple entered into the smell.
From the first sip to the last mouthful, Allagash White is very flavorful. The flavor profile is dominated by lemon and banana. After the initial banana and lemon notes, pepper notes and faint pear began to appear with the taste adding a very nice complexity. 
As a beer lover of silky or viscous body, I think the mouthfeel of Allagash White is its best quality. The slightly chewiness lead to a medium body with the appropriate amount of carbonation, moderate. 
Allagash White could quite possibly be the best flagship beer in New England. I know some people gravitate to Pretty Things' Jack D'Or or to Smuttynose IPA, but this beer can definitely stand up to any flagship contenders. Its 5%ABV and pleasant taste make Allagash White great for any time throughout the year. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse - Moat Mountain Brown (Bear Peak Brown)

Last weekend, my wife and I ventured into unknown territory for us, Northern New Hampshire. Located two-and-half hours north of Boston, nestled in the scenic White Mountains is a quaint-small town, North Conway. North Conway is best known for its outlet shopping, Settler's Green, however the food culture is what deserves the most praise and Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse is at the heart of the under appreciated food culture. Situated at the base of a snow-capped mountain, a beautiful yellow colonial style home houses this purveyor of delicious beer and barbeque. A very welcoming hostess and wait staff allow the customer to feel instantly at ease. This comfort was present in the attentiveness and knowledge of our server who, based on my questioning, lead me to a wonderful dry stout. At the end of the meal, in which a california burger was completely devoured, Em and I decided to take a growler of the Moat Mountain Brown (she had a pint during lunch) back to Boston.
Once the pour is complete and the beer settles one characteristic of this beer instantly jumps out, its clarity. It is probably this clearest brown ale I have come across, which is saying a lot because Em is the brown ale guru. The Moat Brown is a dark-hued brown with subtle red highlighting and a very small-thin head.
The aroma from this beer is full of sweet caramel. This caramel is expertly balanced with the nuttiness of a traditional English ale. Although faint, there is a slight powdered-chocolate note completing a truly intoxicating aroma.
The first sip of this beer is every bit as good as the last. The taste is full of caramel and nutty quality that mimics the nose. Mixed in with these traditional English ale tastes are a welcomed toastiness and a burnt sugar quality. All these tastes combine with a refined hoppiness for a long lasting taste that is refreshing and welcoming.
The mouthfeel of this beer is spot on; the viscosity reveals a medium body with a slight chewiness. The carbonation is held in check leading to a very smooth, but somewhat dry finish.
At 5.5% ABV and tasting absolutely delicious, the Moat Mountain Brown is one of the best session beers that I have tasted. I appreciate the expertise the went into creating a truly authentic English-style ale. I look forward to our next journey to the White Mountains, Settler's Green, and the hidden gem in the New England beer scene, Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mystic Brewery - Mystic Saison (Batch 2)

Over the past year, Massachusetts has seen the openings of numerous breweries: Backlash Beer CompanyJack's Abby Brewing CompanySomerville Brewing CompanyBlatant BreweryIdle Hands Craft Ales, and the brewery that is rethinking the functionality of yeast, Mystic Brewery. Situated in Chelsea on the Island End Inlet of the Mystic River, Mystic Brewery is fermenting a very interesting saison that has, and will go through, differing fermenting techniques. The first batch of this saison was extremely boozy and acidic leading to an unpleasant experience. The second batch, which is being reviewed here, was fermented at a lower temperature changing the profile of this beer (more to follow later). Currently, the brewmasters at Mystic are barrel-aging their saison and refermenting it in the bottle with a wine yeast strain.
Ah the innovation and craftmanship of craft brewers.........
Batch number two of the Mystic Saison poured a rustic, hazy orange, which was much darker than I was expecting. I was a expecting the straw color of Dupont or Fantome because of the amount of buzz that followed the fermentation of this beer. I now know this presumption of an authentically colored saison was widely distorted. A big fluffy, airy head pillowed instantaneously, but quickly lowered leaving a one-finger head.
The aroma that flows from this saison is very peppery. Along with this spiciness, there is a definite acidic  quality that has been harnessed from batch one. Finally, the yeast has contributed a very nice pear accent to the spiciness.
As was expected, this saison had an intense yeasty spiciness. The spiciness was complemented very nicely by the same pear notes in the nose. As the beer warmed and the carbonation receded, these pear notes came to the forefront of the taste, which I really enjoyed. Also, there is an earthiness to this beer that comes through as a pastoral hay/straw quality.
The feel is light and extremely carbonated, which I enjoyed. The taste was very short, dry, and didn't linger. Probably not the best beer for the late fall, but excellent for a hot summer day.
Although batch two is far superior to batch one, I found myself consistently wanting to like this more as I kept drinking, but I couldn't. I think the acidity was overwhelming, dominating the flavor profile. It left me lingering for a fruit complexity. With all that being said, I anticipate the shelving of the sauvignon blanc barrel-aged version of this local saison. Hopefully the aging process and the addition of the wine yeast strain will subdue the acidity and add minor oak and tannin characteristics leading to a very complex product.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Wedding and Beer Weekend in Atlanta, GA

Since I have entered in the world of craft beer, I look forward to every trip Emily and I take to the beautiful southern city, Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta's beer culture is very similar the culture that is found in Boston. Neither city is home to an abundance of in-state breweries, but many of those that have settled in their respective locals are well-respected and innovative breweries: Cambridge Brewing CompanyPretty Things Beer and Ale Project, and The Boston Beer Company in Boston and Sweet Water BreweryThe Wrecking Bar, and The Terrapin Brewing Company in Atlanta. Both Atlanta and Boston are home to chain breweries, Boston Beer Works and John Harvard's Brewhouse in MA and 5 Seasons Brewing Company in GA and amazing craft beer stores Craft Beer Cellar in Boston and Hop City in Atlanta.
Upon my arrival late Thursday, my amazing wife had a cold pint waiting in the fridge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company's, Lectio Divina. It was a amber-hued ale with a bubbly white head. It was much more tart than was expected, which was a great way to finish a long day of work and traveling.
For lunch on Friday, my father-in-law, step-mother-in-law and I ventured to yuppie-ville, Alpharetta, GA to sample pints from 5 Seasons Brewing. I started with Tabla Saison. The beer poured light red in color with a minimal head. The beer produced a delightful aroma, full of fruity esters dominated by pear and wild berries. The taste was full of a bright fruitiness that was very refreshing on a warm Atlanta afternoon. I followed this saison with their Fresh Hop Ale. After conversing with the server, I found out that the brewmaster has fresh Chinook hops flown in overnight for the mash the following morning. The aroma from the sample was very piney and fresh, which is definitely due to the addition of the wet hops. The taste, however, was very heavy and sluggish lowering its appeal and drinkability.
After finishing up at lunch, my father-in-law and I ventured to the all encompassing liquor store, Total Wine. The beer selection is extensive, but lacks in organization. Due to this disarray on the shelves, I usually find a hidden gem and this visit was no exception. On the top shelf, hidden behind some bottles, and completely isolated from the American IPA section, I found the highly renowned, Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing. The was IPA is epitome of balance between malts and hops. The initial taste is very malty, but this maltiness gives way to a hop explosion in the back end of the taste. Very rarely will I say this about a beer, but this beer definitely lived up to the hype and was exceptional.
The wedding weekend was a beautiful celebration of the love between Yvonne and Todd. And just as their love is blossoming, so is mine toward the wanders Atlanta beer culture. As Emily and I continue to venture south, I look forward to numerous adventures that we will take both touristy and beery.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Founders Brewing Company - Founders Porter

Traditionally, victorian women have been relegated to the works of classical authors: Dickens, Austen, and the Brontë Sisters. However, Founders Brewing Company  has paid homage to these women with a portrait of a mysterious-victorian woman gracing the label for their porter.
As I poured this american-influenced porter, I noticed that it was much thinner than I anticipated. Its pitch-black color conjured up images of the darkest of nights. With all that I had heard about this porter, I was expecting a much fuller head, but the head was very thin and quickly receded leaving red-hued lacings along the glass.
The aroma is full of roasted malts. These roasted malts waft the smell of inviting coffee and/or espresso grinds. After allowing the beer to warm, caramel and dark chocolate notes began to enter into the aroma. Surprisingly, the hop presence in the aroma is almost non-existent.
The taste is very distinctive and can be broken down into two separate parts. The first part is full of delicious burnt or roasted coffee. The second part of the taste (back-end) is a coating of hops that are pleasant and well balanced with the tastefulness of the coffee.
The carbonation in this porter was very nice leading to light creaminess. The body was thin, but as the beer warmed, the carbonation weakened allowing the body to become fuller. At 6.5% ABV and composed with 45 IBUs, Founders Porter is an excellent interpretation of a hoppy porter.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smuttynose Brewing Company - Smuttynose IPA "FinestKind"

Located in the historic shipping town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Smuttynose has been brewing award-winning beer since 1994. Smuttynose has grown into a nationally appreciated brewery and is now distributed in seventeen east coast states and three midwest states. Within New England, Smuttynose Brewing Company has become one of the leading breweries, producing an outstanding craft beer portfolio. This portfolio is full of year-round options for any palate: Old Brown Dog for malt lovers, Robust Porter for the coffee lovers, and and Shoals Pale Ale for those who love belgian influenced ales. To compliment this well-rounded line-up, Smuttynose brewers have a seasonal Big Beer Series for those brave enough to try more adventurous and bold styles.  If you are fortunate enough to live in one of the beautiful states that stocks Smuttynose, reach for a Smuttynose IPA and bring a little of the Granite State home.
The Smuttynose IPA is copper-orange in color with a bubbly, one-finger head. As this head dissipates, icicle-like lacing sticks to the outside of the glass. Due to dry-hopping and being an unfiltered IPA, this beer is hazy with noticeable sediment.
The smell of this beer is very intoxicating, especially to hop-heads (a fair assumption). The nose is full of pine and grapefruit notes, leaving one salivating for a sip.
If every IPA tasted like this pint, "I would definitely make mine a Smutty." The taste matches the nose with pine and grapefruit dominating over other flavors. The taste is very reminiscent of a west-coast IPA (Green Flash West Coast IPA), however, instead of the hops providing astringent bitterness they cause the Smuttynose IPA to become nicely resinous. As the beer warms, a third player enters into taste - a welcome floral bite that adds complexity to every drink.
The mouthfeel is light to medium in body and has the right amount tingle that leads to a crisp, clean finish. At 6.9% ABV and with excellent hop characteristics, Smuttynose IPA is great example of an American IPA. From the facial expressions of two gentlemen that grace its label, you too will think its the "FinestKind."


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant - Hinterland IPA

When one thinks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, images of Packer lore: Vinnie Lombardi in his houndstooth trenchcoat, McGee's dominance in Super Bowl I, Reggie White's ferocity and tenacity to sack opposing quarterbacks and Brett Farve's 399 yard, four touchdown performance on Monday Night Football instantly come to this author's mind. However, nestled in this bitterly cold, but beautiful Midwest city, is the Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant, which is quickly giving cheeseheads and non-cheeseheads alike something to talk about other than the Packers, artisanal craft beer.

Founded in 1995, The Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant now is producing eleven brews ranging from american staples: IPA and Pale Ale to excellent seasonals: Maple Bock and Winterland. Recently, The Hinterland Brewery began distributing their award winning beer to Massachusetts. I was drawn to their beer because of the simplicity of their logo (which reminds me of the Packers logo) and their distinctive pint bottles. Having sampled the: Pale Ale, Cherry Wheat, Oktoberfest, Luna Stout and Amber Ale, I noticed that a local bottle shop, Craft Beer Cellar, had obtained their IPA. At a price tag of three dollars, I was absolutely thrilled to see it on the shelf.

The Hinterland IPA pours eye-appealing burnt orange with light and foamy head. As the head recedes, small intricate lacing coats the glass. Holding the glass against light, the beer is extremely clear and has minimal carbonation.
The aroma that is released from this IPA is very reminiscent of citrus fruit, most notably tangerines and grapefruit. Expecting the traditional American "Hop Bomb", I was pleasantly surprised to smell the subtle hop character with an excellent balance of malt sweetness.
Hinterland's IPA is more English than American in style. The taste begins with malts coating your palate leaving a biscuity flavor and ends with grassy-earthiness from the hops. The citrus aroma that was present in the nose is somewhat masked from the grassiness, but due to the balanced flavor, the taste is very nice.
The mouthfeel is light-bodied with an appropriate amount of carbonation. These two characteristics combine for a very dry and crisp finish, which results in a very refreshing pint.
At 6.7% ABV and combined with the english influence of hop and malt kinship, Hinterland's IPA is very drinkable. Everytime I purchased a Hinterland product, my respect for this Midwest brewery continues to grow. If you see this in your local bottle shop, definitely give it a chance and make Packer fans proud of their local brew.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Great American Beer Festival

Before I entered into the wondrous realm that is craft beer, I was completely oblivious to the notion of beer festivals. Fortunately, I am extremely lucky to live in the home state of Beer Advocate where the Alstrom Brothers have blessed Boston with three outstanding beer festivals: American Craft Beer FestivalBelgian Beer Fest and the Extreme Beer Fest. I have had the opportunity to attend/volunteer at the American Craft Beer Festival, escort my lovely wife to Belgian Beer Festival, and with luck, will be attending this year's Extreme Beer Festival. 
Although these East-Coast festivals provide an excellent arena for the growth of the craft beer industry, they are far cry from the scope and depth at which the Great American Beer Festival operates. Founded in 1982, The Great American Beer Festival was the brain child of craft beer legend, Charlie Papazian. During this initial festival, GABF was held in the beautiful mountain community of Boulder, Colorado but now resides in Denver, Colorado. It is definitely a "beer goal" of mine to make the journey west to bask in this truly mesmerizing beer culture. This year's festival ended this past weekend and I thought I would pass along the Winners List, so you can begin the search to find award winning beer in your state.



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Boston Beer Co. - Sam Adams Octoberfest

For my first entry, I thought I would write about a beer that introduced to me to the craft beer world, Sam Adams Octoberfest. This ale is the American Juggernaut's interpretation of the Marzen style. Marzen beer normally has a chestnut, deep-copper color with malty and crisp finish. This finish can be attributed to being traditionally stored at cold temperatures for many months allowing the development of a fuller body.

As far as appearance goes, Sam Adams Octoberfest definitely has traditional color tones for the style. The beer pours a deep-auburn that has a small, but very, bubbly head. The head doesn't stay for very long, quickly dissipating into a thin ring around the interior of the glass.

The aroma from this pint is faint, but that which does escape, is full of malty notes. Caramel dominates the nose with a subtle background of toffee and breadiness.

The taste parallels the aroma nicely. The first part of the taste was full of caramel and a bread-y character. The tastes finishes a little sweet, but not overpowering resulting in a clean, crisp take on a European staple.

It had been sometime since the last time I poured myself an Octoberfest. I was pleasantly surprised with the fullness of its body, not chewy or aqueous, but medium-bodied with a nice level of carbonation.

With an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 5.3%, Sam Adams Octoberfest is sessionable during those cool, refreshing fall evenings in New England. It is not the best American interpretation of this style, but is well-made brew that has the ability to open minds to craft beer as it did for me.