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.