Friday, May 30, 2014

Beer Review: Mimosa

Reviewing the infamous Mimosa from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 98

Winter 2011-12 vintage, bottle #047/450. served in a Cantillon wine glass and enjoyed on 05/10/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky, orange color body with a light fade to yellowish-orange atop. Pours a half finger of white head that settles to a thin coating. The beer has a nice color, for what little that matters. 4.5/5

Smell: Wine and orange citrus dominate the nose. This beer smells just like a mimosa mixed with some straw and a kiss of a fruity yeast aroma. 4.5/5

Taste: Super juicy citrus without being overly acidic mixed with mildly tannic white wine. Light farmhouse funk/Brett on the finish, particularly as it warms up. A touch of pepper on the finish too. More complex than the nose, developing as it warms. Good, lasting flavor. Tastes just likes its namesake, with delectable complexity and saison-like characteristics coming through on the finish. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate medium carbonation. Unreasonably juicy mouthfeel, with a very light dryness to the finish. Not very tart, but not "not tart enough." Excellent balance, really digging the sheer juiciness of this mouthfeel. 5/5

Overall: Tastes like a mimosa spiked with saison characteristics on the finish. Refreshing, flavorful, and complex for what it is. This beer is a marvelous interpretation of its namesake, and the perfect token of Hill Farmstead's competence, talent and ingenuity when everything goes right. If you want to know why Hill Farmstead beers are so highly regarded and sought after, look no further than this brew.

Cost: $20 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beer Review: Chez Monus

Reviewing Chez Monus from Alpine Beer Company out of Alpine, California. 

Score: 92

October 2013 vintage bottle served in a Perennial Artisan Ales taster glass and enjoyed on 04/29/14, celebrating Adrienne W.'s birthday (happy birthday Adrienne!). Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a vibrant and cloudy orange-tangerine color with yellow fade towards the edges. No head or lacing, but what a lovely color. 4.75/5

Smell: Smells a lot like the peachy syrup/juice that canned peaches come steeped in, blended with wine. Light apricot character, particularly following the Noyaux we just drank. Has an apparent vinegar-like acidity and stock American wild ale sour character akin to an Upland sour, but done better. Has a slight grassy/drank character too. Quite nice. 4.5/5

Taste: Peach syrup, apricot (more so than the nose) and vinegar, with a distinct wine character to finish. Lingering peach and apricot. Tastes like an Upland sour where the acidity/lacto/vinegar is muted relative to an Upland sour, but still strong and not integrated quite as well as the better Uplands are. I really love the peach syrup flavor here, but this beer is too sharply vinegary to be truly excellent. Not very complex. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Juicy medium-light mouthfeel, with a good carbonation level and very dry finish. Tart and vinegary. 3.5/5

Overall: I would have thought that this was an Upland sour if I did not know any better. The peach character on this beer is really nice and more intense than Fuzzy, but the sharp and acidic vinegar and sour lacto character holds it back from true greatness (no one tell this to Todd Oliver, though) and induces a little bit of heart burn. Pass me the Tums please.

Cost: $19.99 for a 500 ml bottle.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beer Review: Convenient Distraction

Reviewing the Convenient Distraction from O'so Brewing Company out of Plover, Wisconsin.

Score: 85

2014 vintage bottle served in a Great Taste of the Midwest taster glass and enjoyed on 05/04/14 while camping out for Great Taste tickets. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Syrup/cola brown color. One finger of tan head off the pour, which settles to a thin layer. Lovely lacing and retention. 4/5

Smell: Smells like lightly roasted coffee with a little bit of vanilla creamer. 3.75/5

Taste: Coffee flavor with a light chocolatey finish. Has a milky creamer flavor to it too. A faint kiss of vanilla bean ice cream comes out as it warms up. The flavors are nice, but the chocolate/vanilla is way too muted. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, appropriate carbonation. Modestly bitter. 3/5

Overall: A solid porter that needs its adjuncts enhanced.

Cost: $15.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beer Review: Good King Henry Special Reserve (2011 Vintage)

Reviewing the ever elusive Good King Henry Special Reserve from Old Chimneys Brewery out of England.

Score: 93

275 ml bottle. Brewed 09/11/2011, best before 09/11/2021. Served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 05/04/14 while camping out for Great Taste tickets. Review is from iPhone notes. Major thank you and shout out to Adam C. for hooking me up with this long time, personal white whale.

Appearance: Pours an ink black color with a thin layer of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Awesome lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Oaky vanilla, dates, fruity oxidation, dark fruit, tannic woodiness/sherry/red wine, and chocolate. Black currant and cherry comes through more and more as the beer warms up. Also present is a hint of coffee and licorice. Really nice mix of chocolate, dark fruit and positive fruity oxidation that is well-integrated. 4.75/5

Taste: Chocolate, red wine, oak, black currant, cherry and dates. Some licorice towards the finish as well, but this beer is not an anise bomb by any stretch. Lasting fruitiness and oak. Nom nom nom. The nose integrated better than the taste, but the flavor profile is still quite nice. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, low carbonation. Oily, slick mouthfeel. Very mild sweetness overall. 4.25

Overall: A really lovely stout that, while not one of the best out there, was quite delicious. Ample dark fruit/licorice and red wine define this stout. I would drink this one again, but not go too far out of my way to seek it out.

Cost: Unknown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beer Review: Ring Them Bells

Reviewing the Ring Them Bells from Mikkeller out of Copenhagen, Denmark. This kopi coffee porter was brewed in conjunction with the release of a self-titled EP from a Copenhagen-local rock band of the same name (Ring Them Bells). According to the Mikkeller website:
Roasted malts and coffee makes this porter a dark, massive, and straight up devilishly tasty beer. Copenhagen based rock dudes Ring Them Bells brewed up their own recipe for a good time, recorded a 12’ EP, then handed us the B side for a so-called recipe engraving on the actual vinyl (record enthusiasts, you are hereby advised). Everything came together when RTB put it all on display last year with a LOUD and explosive set, as Mikkeller & Friends opened up its doors. This package is for the beer freaks who likes to ROCK out!
Score: 91

2014 vintage bottle served in a Great Taste of the Midwest taster glass and enjoyed on 05/04/14 while camping out for Great Taste tickets. Review is from iPhone notes. Big thank you to Mixen for sending me this gift to share, enjoy and review in a recent order.

Appearance: Pours a black color with three fingers of foamy tan head that slowly recedes to a thick layer. Below average head, but solid lacing and good cling. 3.5/5

Smell: Coffee, chocolate and light roast. Light oat character too. Really lovely breakfast-like nose. 4.25/5

Taste: Smooth coffee, roast, and bitter bakers chocolate. Big, lasting flavor and finish. Simple, but effective. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, spot on carbonation. Watery mouthfeel, but dry finish. More bitter than expected, but not acridly so. 2.75/5

Overall: A really nice smelling and tasting beer marred by an underwhelmingly thin body (yes, yes, I know it is a porter).

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle (inclusive of the vinyl EP).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Beer Review: Imperial Vin Bu

Reviewing the Imperial Vin Bu from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon. This beer is a berliner weisse style ale aged in wine barrels with Merlot grapes.

Score: 95

2014 vintage bottle served in a Toppling Goliath snifter and enjoyed on 04/09/14. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a vibrant pink-ruby candy drop color with a finger and a half of fizzy pink-white head that settles to a nice coating. Excellent lacing and retention. The beer is noticeably effervescent. 4.75/5

Smell: Wheat, some grape and a touch of hay funk. A hint of oak and a little lacto. Good mix, but muted on the grape relative to the amount of cranberry in Cranberry Bu or boysenberry in Boysenberry Bu. 4.25/5

Taste: With no real funk or grain character in the taste, this tastes much more tart grape and musty fruit forward than than the nose. Similar in flavor to a fresh Saint Lamvinus, with a kiss of lacto towards the finish. Not very complex, but quite delicious. More lacto character comes through as the beer warms. By the time this beer reached room temp it tastes like Smarties candy flavored fruit punch with a lacto twist. Yummy. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thin-plus bodied, appropriately effervescent. Quite dry on the finish (particularly on the gums), accentuating the tartness of the brew nicely. 4.5/5

Overall: A deliciously light, tart and flavorful, albeit not super complex, berliner-style sour ale from a brewery that is quickly becoming a master of these kind of beers. Highly recommend this one.

Cost: $10 for a 750 ml bottle

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beer Review: Loak

Reviewing Loak from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 65

2014 vintage bottle served in a Kate the Great snifter and enjoyed on 05/08/14.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown burgundy color with a thin layer of tan head. Excellent lacing, good retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Poo poo, bleu cheese funkiness, chocolate and cherry funk, with a hint of coffee. Sharp sweet caramel too. The funk is the last and first thing you smell on this nose, and it is not pleasant. The poo poo character dies down as the beer breathes, but the other funkiness does not. 1/5

Taste: The taste starts off unpleasant, but either layers nicely or mellows out as it warms up. Initially, this beer has a sharp, unpleasant sweetness upfront that quickly turns tart, and then finishes with a nice bitter coffee flavor. That initial taste sensation is like a rickety roller coaster that jerks you around flavor-wise. Cherry, oak, bourbon and light caramel, with a coffee and chocolate finish. The tartness in the middle gets crisper as the beer warms and layer. The sharp upfront sweetness also mellows out over time, and melds more seamlessly with the tartness. The bitter coffee and chocolate finish is quite lovely, and is the only thing enticing me to keep sipping at first. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Super dry finish. Sweet and sourish upfront, then mildly bitter on the finish. 3.5/5

Overall: This beer was flat out weird. The nose was one of the most unpleasant ones I have experienced in a long time, and the taste is initially subpar save for an excellent finish that was more or less this beer's only saving grace. De Garde makes a lot of really tasty beer, but this is one of their rare early misses (along with their Cornelio Nunez Porter).

Cost: $10 for a 375 ml bottle.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beer Review: Thrust! An IPA

Reviewing Thrust! An IPA from Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Etobicoke, Canada.

Score: 95

Couple week old can served in a Great Taste of the Midwest taster glass and enjoyed on 05/04/14 while camping out for Great Taste tickets. Review is from iPhone notes. Thank you Adam and Marcus for sending me this tasty treat!

Appearance: Pour a lovely golden honey color with four fingers of frothy white head. Poor lacing and retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Tropical fruit/citrus fruitiness and dank pine mixed with a kiss of funk. 4.5/5

Taste: Bitter tropical fruit galore, with a piney finish. Tastes like chewing on the rind of various citrus fruit -- grapefruits, tangerines, orange and so on. So delightful! 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Juicy and bitter. Medium-ish body, good carbonation. 4.5/5

Overall: This is a excellent IPA with a lovely tropical fruit nose and a good amount of bitterness without being a palate scorcher. If you are getting a box of beer sent to you from Canada, then I recommend inquiring about acquiring a few fresh cans.

Cost: $4 for a 16 oz can.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beer Review: Devil Over A Barrel

Reviewing the Devil Over A Barrel from Tyranena Brewing Company out of Lake Mills, Wisconsin. This beer is an imperial oatmeal porter brewed with coffee, 60% of which is barrel aged and then blended.

Score: 93

2014 vintage screw cap bottle served in a Schramm's Mead snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/14. Thank you Eric for the hookup!

Appearance: Pours a black coffee color with a thin layer of tan head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. Good lacing and retention. 4/5

Smell: Big roastiness, plus coffee and chocolate and a light amount of vanilla. The nose is more defined by a roastiness than a coffee character. 4.5/5

Taste: Roasted coffee, followed by a bourbon flavored finish that is flavorful, but not intense. No booziness here. Has a lovely residual chocolate flavor with a kiss of brown sugar. Good balance between the coffee bitterness and bourbon flavored sweetness. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: I get that this is a porter, but the body is still pretty thin relative to the robust flavor profile present here. This bottle was a touch overcarbonated, but that was easily solved by some swirling and patience. Watery mouthfeel, with a bitter leaning balance. Again, I get that this is a porter, but a more viscous body would have done this beer wonders. 3/5

Overall: Although not 100% barrel aged, this beer tastes a lot like how KBS used to taste several years back -- albeit with a touch less bourbon character and a substantially thinner body. The coffee and bourbon characters are nicely present on the taste -- the barrel does not outshine the chocolate, the coffee does not overpower the bourbon, and everything mixes together in a nice harmony that has a lovely kiss of vanilla underlying it. The mouthfeel is sadly watery, though, and this somewhat undermines an otherwise delicious brew. Seek this one out fresh, while the coffee character is still robustly present!

Cost: $10 for a four pack of 12 oz bottles.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beer Review: Aphrodisiaque (Élevée En Barriques De Rhum)

Reviewing the Rum Barrel Aged Aphrodisiaque from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel out of Montréal, Quebec (the Rome of Canada). This beer is their lovely Aphrodisiaque imperial stout aged in rum barrels.

Score: 90

January 2014 vintage bottle served in an O'so snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/14. Big shout out and thank you Adam and Marcus, my Canadian buddies, for helping me acquire this one.

Appearance: Black bodied with a half finger layer of khaki head off the pour. Okay lacing, good retention, solid cling. 4/5

Smell: Huge, smack-you-across-the-face vanilla cake and vanilla frosting. Also, milk chocolate and brown sugar, rounded out by rum and light wood-like character. Not the most complex, but the vanilla character here is incredibly appetizing. The brown sugar note slowly turns syrupy as it warms up. Really, really well-integrated nose. I could smell this all evening. 5/5

Taste: Unfortunately, the taste is not very well-integrated or as much of an explosive desserty vanilla bomb as the nose. Still, there are delicious pieces here. Vanilla-forward rum, chocolate, and wood. The finish is somewhat crisp, with just a bit of that wood flavor lasting. A touch boozy and heavy on the wood character, in my opinion. As it warms up, the rum develops a nicer finish. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, low carbonation. Nice balance, not very sweet, but watery mouthfeel. 3/5

Overall: While the rum aging has given this delectable stout an epic nose, the barrel treatment caused this beer to take step back in the taste department in my opinion. I like the added complexity of the rum/vanilla notes, but they were not particularly well-integrated and the taste was a bit too boozy/woody for my preference (especially given the lack of a viscous body to back it up). There is clearly a tease of greatness here; some wonderful characteristics (the nose...the is so amazing that I might as well just smell this beer instead of drink it!) with plenty of roughness around the edges. I imagine that if Dieu Du Ciel tinkered with this one a bit, that over time this could become better than Barrel Aged Peche Mortel. I would certainly be interested in sampling future batches of this one. Thank you for the hookup Adam and Marcus! Cheers.

Cost: $8 for a 12 oz bottle.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beer Review: Laird's Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Grande Negro Voodoo Papi

Reviewing the Laird's Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Grande Negro Voodoo Papi in from the Voodoo Brewing Company out of Meadville, Pennsylvania. This beer is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brewed with vanilla beans and cinnamon, aged in Laird’s Apple Brandy barrels.

Score: 98

Bottle #212, dated 09/24/13. Served in a 50/50 Eclipse mini snifter and enjoyed on 12/20/2013

Appearance: Coffee color, with soda syrup highlights outlining the glass. Pours a thin layer of cedar colored tan head that quickly settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. 3.5/5

Smell: Maple, vanilla and smooth apple brandy notes with a lovely cinnamon backbone. A little nutmeg too. Faint notes of chili peppers and a kiss of leather. Rich and robust. Has a nice mix of spices, though the spiciness is muted. 4.75/5

Taste: Big notes of chocolate/milk chocolate, with a very mild and crisp spicy pepper prickliness that dances, but does not linger, on the sides of the tongue. This spicy liveliness intensifies a bit if you let the brew sit on the palate for a bit. Cinnamon and nutmeg throughout, shining mostly in the finish. Not a whole ton of barrel character to the taste, very muted in this regard. Light maple and vanilla notes too. This beer is mostly about the chocolate and the crisp spiciness, but the other subtle complexities complement nicely. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, quite viscous. Perfect low carbonation level. Lovely spiciness that is lively but crisp and not palate wrecking. Quite balanced. 5/5

Overall: This is a really excellent beer that I felt was superior to California Brandy Hunahpu’s. There is a nice mix of spices and spiciness complementing a very-chocolate forward flavor profile that is quite balanced. I highly recommend this delectably crushable brew.

Cost: $25 for a 22 oz bottle.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Beer Review: Remy's Pappy

Reviewing the Remy's Pappy from TAPS Fish House & Brewery out of Corona, California. This beer is their award-winning Imperial Russian Stout aged in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels.

Score: 97

2013 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 04/21/14. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours an inky black color with a thin layer of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. No lacing or retention. Good oily legs. 4/5

Smell: Bourbony chocolate and milk chocolate. Vanilla, coconut, graham crackers, and molasses. Bold bourbon notes present, but not in a boozy/fusel way. Ample dark fruit too. Light caramel and toffee notes. What an appetizing aroma! Bold and well-integrated. 5/5

Taste: Big vanilla-forward bourbon flavor and milk chocolate, with a bold and lasting bourbony finish. Lovely coconut and graham cracker flavor towards back half. Dark fruit comes out in the finish more and more as the brew warms up and breathes. Really, it tastes an awful lot like it smells. Not boozy or fusel at all. The flavors meld nicely! I love how much milk chocolate comes across despite the bourbon-forward characteristics. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel, just a touch dry on the finish. 4.25/5

Overall: My only knock on this beer is that the mouthfeel was lacking relative to its big bold nose and flavor, but it was not a "thin" beer by any means. The bold coconut/vanilla/graham cracker flavors are magnificent. I think I slightly prefer to Trace of Remy due to the relatively better mouthfeel, but both are excellent twists on the normally Heaven Hills-aged Remy (a delicious brew in all its own right). The guys at TAPS really know how to get the most out of a bourbon barrel! Seek this one out with confidence.

Cost: $35 for a 750 ml beer.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Beer Review: Mocha Wednesday

Reviewing Mocha Wednesday from The Bruery out of Placentia, California. This beer is Black Tuesday imperial stout with coffee and cacao nibs added.

Score: 91

2014 vintage bottle served in a Hill Farmstead stemmed glass and enjoyed on 02/22/14. Review is from iPhone notes. Thank you Moe for sharing this brew with me!

Appearance: Soda pop brown in color. Virtually no head off the pour. Decent oily legs, but no head or retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Milk chocolate, fudge, roast and a little vanilla. Big booziness, but not a ton of bourbon aroma relative to the alcohol esters. Simple and boozy, but effectively appealing. 4/5

Taste: Milk chocolate, vanilla, and mild coffee flavor with a nice light bitterness that's refreshing relative to most diabetes-inducingly sweet Bruery stouts. Still, despite this bitternes, this beer is still awfully sweet. Boozy, but more bourbon character than the nose and less sheer alcohol. I thought this was tasty, but it is a sweet sipper that is probably best enjoyed in small doses. My four ounce pour was sufficient for a lifetime. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. Not cloying or nearly as sweet as Black Tuesday, but its on the sweeter side of stouts. 3.75/5

Overall: A really solid stout, but certainly not as good as its reputation would indicate. I prefer Chocolate Rain to this, but felt Mocha Wednesday was better than Grey Monday.

Cost: $40 for a 750 ml bottle.