Monday, March 18, 2013

The Lost Abbey - Saint's Devotion

The craft beer movement has been full of innovation: brewing techniques, barrel-aging practices and revisiting ancient recipes along with development of exciting new taste profiles (Black and White IPAs). This endless pursuit to keep innovating has lead brewmasters down an interesting path, inoculating their products with the wild yeast strain, Brettanomyces. 
Tomme Arthur, brewmaster of Lost Abbey has been at the forefront of this movement. His latest offering, Saint's Devotion, a Belgian Blonde Ale with "brett" pours a hazy-golden yellow with orange highlights. A light, airy head billows then dissipates, leaving excellent lacing around the entire glass. 
The aroma is full of pale malts with fruit sweetness. The sweetness conjures images of apple, pear and pineapples. The "brett" character presents as a musty, barnyard funk which works well against the fruitiness. 
The fruitiness that was present in the aroma takes a back seat as the "brett" took a commanding role in the taste profile. The barnyard funk in the aroma is complimented by an herbal earthiness that is accentuated by a high level of carbonation. The finish contains a slight acidic quality that is very dry and pleasant. 
A great balanced "brett" beer; gave it a try!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Founders Brewing Company - Imperial Stout

There are a number of craft breweries that produce a collection stouts (Dark HorseCigar CityBells Brewery), but few rival those being offered by Founders Brewing Company. Their collection of stout is comprised of the obtainable Breakfast Stout and Imperial Stout and the ultra elusive Kentucky Breakfast Stout (aged in oak bourbon barrel) and Canadian Breakfast Stout (aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels). With the Imperial Stout hitting shelves over the past couple of weeks, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try a product within my favorite beer style.
Founders Imperial Stout pours a beautiful, opaque black with no noticeable carbonation both in the beer's body and head. The head that did form was small, slick and wispy leaving quickly following the pour. When held to the light the beer had no ruby hues hugging the glass.
The aroma contained no delectable hop presence. It was comprised of dark chocolate that intensified as the beer warmed. Complimenting this chocolate component was a sweetness that reminded me of molasses. The striking, somewhat unexpected quality of the aroma, booziness, was more powerful than I have experienced in other American versions of Russian Imperial Stout.
This stout contained a very forceful tasting profile. Although forceful, the taste of this stout had a beer-lover's complexity. The initial phase of the taste is a washing of dark chocolate and roasted malts. The hops that were undetectable in the aroma provide a popping hop-bite finish during the second wave of the tasting profile. The combination of malts and hops bring out a subtle tobacco/smokey quality that worked very well with the other ingredients. The finish was very fulfilling because each ingredient was identifiable and lingered on the palate activating multiple sensory receptors.
At 10.5%ABV, this stout is pushing stylistic guidelines, but the alcohol apparent in the aroma is not as prominent as in the tasting. With many malts used to create this beer, the mouthfeel is silky and velvety with just the right amount of chewiness. Enjoy this stout as an after supper dessert, but sip patiently and the beer will open up allowing the flavors to balance appropriately. For the stout lovers, Founders Imperial Stout is a must try; Seek and Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Narragansett Brewing Company - Narragansett Porter

HI - Neighbor! Well, not really, but for those who are checking out the blog, thanks. Hi-Neighbor is the famous slogan of The Narragansett Brewing Company originally founded in 1888 with their first beer being produced in 1890. The brewery stayed in business until 1981, when upgrades to the aging structure fell through. Luckily, Mark Hellendrung's nostalgic empathy for the beer that symbolized Rhode Island for almost a century, created a movement to bring back their classic portfolio. In 2005, Mr. Hellendrung was successful and brewing begin anew with former brewmaster Bill Anderson at the helm.
Brewmaster Anderson has re-created four seasonal products, FestBockSummer Ale and today's beer, Porter. This offering pours very dark brown allowing very little light to penetrate through its body. The head of this beer is very, very light by composed of extra-large bubbles and reaches three-fingers in height. There was very little head retention, however, as I consumed this beer, nice lacing stuck to the sides of the glass.
The smell of this beer contained three aromatics. Ganasett Porter had a slightly roasted aroma provided by the dark malt. To compliment this roast character, light coffee notes and hints of dark chocolate waft from the glass. The website has the IBU's listed at 28 but I didn't detect any hint of bitterness through the aroma.
The taste had a distinct minerality reminiscent of a brown porter from England. It's possible that Brewmaster Anderson altered the water chemistry of Rhode Island water to mimic the "hard" water of England, but most likely this flavor component is the combination of in-state water and the selected grains for the grain bill. The taste lacked the coffee notes and roast that were present in the aroma, but the dark chocolate character found in the aroma carried over slightly into the flavor. Drinkable yes, flavorful, not so much.
The mouthfeel of this porter was very light, bordering on watery. The carbonation level of this porter was elevated for the style, but after warming, large bubbles receded into much smaller bubbles adding a touch of silkiness. At 7%ABV, this porter, with its light body is quite drinkable. This drinkability is raised with its 1.50$ price tag and the fact that it is canned.

Congratulations to Mr. Hellendrung to resurrecting a classic New England brewery. Good luck to him and his team for whatever the future may hold,


Monday, January 14, 2013

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Dortmunder Gold

The Midwest is full of great breweries: Bell's, Three Floyd's, Boulevard and the producer of tonight's beer, Great Lakes Brewing Company. Great Lakes has a vast portfolio of ales, lagers and cult offerings, but the beer that some argue that allowed the brewery to rise to prominence in the craft beer community is their Dortmunder Gold.
This Dortmunder Export pours a golden-copper color with very light and wispy head. The head retention is quite good with the one-finger width lasting an impressive length of time. When holding the glass up to the light their is a noticeable carbonation rising within the body. The body has impeccable clarity, its leading visual characteristic.
The aroma is comprised of two distinct qualities. First, there is an initial burst of malt sweetness. As the beer warmed, the sweetness settled creating a very balanced aroma with the second component. The second component, light-earthy hop presence, conjures up images of the rural backyard of my childhood home. Together, these aromas create a pleasant smell.
The taste profile mirrors the aroma. The sweetness from the malt coats the palate without any noticeable  cloying-residual sugars. This sweetness lingers, almost to long, but transitions to a herbal, earthy bitterness to balance the sweetness nicely.
At 5.8% ABV, this export lager is at the high end of alcohol content according the the Beer Judge Certified Program guidelines. I DON'T CARE! This lager is extremely smooth and very crisp making it perfect for new craft beer drinkers or for the seasoned aficionado looking for an award-winning and flawless lager.


Monday, January 7, 2013

St. Peter's Brewery Co. Ltd. - Old-Style Porter

Hello! Happy New Year Everyone! I am really looking forward to what 2013 has in store for the craft beer community: new beer releases, collaborations, growth and my own personal homebrewing endeavors.
Lately, I have been re-tracing my roots in craft beer, English ales, so I decided to begin 2013 with a classic English Brewery, St. Peter's and their Old-Style Porter.
This English Porter pours a deep-beautiful mahogany with a light, one-finger head. The head retention was quite weak leaving only wisps across the surface of the beer. When held up to the light, the beer is translucent, which was somewhat surprising. After doing some research on St. Peter's website, I found out this porter "blend of a mature Old Ale and a younger light beer – just as a true Porter should be. The marriage produces an extremely characterful brew which is dark in color..."This old ale component of this porter is probably why the beer allows light penetration.
The aroma of this beer is clean and uncomplicated. It contains an abundance of malty sweetness, most likely from the old ale component of the blend. This malt sweetness is balanced nicely with subtle roast and coffee notes. I was unable to detect a hop presence in the aroma. I think this is due to use of English hops, which can impart earthy notes that blend well with English style grain bill somewhat masking their presence. 
The taste is very similar to the aroma. A burst of malt sweetness instantly coats the palate. Once this sweetness fades, both bready and bitter coffee notes balance the taste. During my initial sips, there was no hop character, but as the beer warmed, the hops entered the taste profile creating a "full" beer. Also, the warmer temperature allowed the old ale component to really shine and dominate the flavor profile with notes of caramel. I can only imagine how good this beer would be on cask!
When this beer was served cold, the mouthfeel was thin and watery, but as it warmed it became more luscious and velvety increasing my overall perception of the beer. At 5.1% ABV, the sessionability of this beer is immense. I could easily see myself ordering this beer on cask in dark, traditional English pub or at a local beer bar for imbibing happiness. If you are looking for straight forward, uncomplicated, enjoyable porter then this may be right for you.