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.