Friday, August 29, 2014

Beer Review: Pirate Bomb!

Reviewing Pirate Bomb! from Prairie Artisan Ales out of Krebs, Oklahoma.

Score: 94

2012 vintage bottle served in a Kuhnhenn snifter and enjoyed on 12/30/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Murky black-brown in color. Pours a finger of tan head that settles to a thin ring around the glass. Not much lacing or retention. 4/5

Smell: Rum, vanilla, cacao, and coffee grounds. No chili pepper. A little booze. 4.5/5

Taste: Tastes just like it smells, with a prominent vanilla-forward rum flavor. Delicious mix of rum, chocolate, and vanilla here. Maybe a hint of chili pepper towards the finish, but there is virtually no coffee or chili pepper flavor here. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, light-plus carbonation. I wish this brew was a tad thicker with a touch less carbonation. Good balance, but sweet-leaning. Oily, slightly creamy mouthfeel. 3.5/5

Overall: A really nice beer that does not have as much nexus to the base beer as expected. The vanilla-y rum is done quite nicely.

Cost: $8 for a 12 oz bottle.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Beer Review: Imperial Raspberry Bu

Reviewing the Imperial Raspberry Bu, a Berliner weiss from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 97

December 2012 vintage bottle served in a stemmed De Garde glass and enjoyed on 01/12/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky pinkish red color with a finger-plus of head that settles to a nice layer. Poor lacing and retention. Lovely lovely color. 4.75/5

Smell: Huge candied raspberry nose with a mineral water backbone. Hint of lemon, dash of vinegar. Simple, but incredibly appealing and bright/fresh smelling. 4.75/5

Taste: Big, tart raspberry character throughout, with a good pucker upfront and dry finish. Light vinegar and zesty lemon. Tastes just like it smells. Simple, but incredibly delicious. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, good carbonation. Awesome tartness upfront, with a lovely, dry finish. Residuals sweetness too. Nice sweet and sour mix. 4.75/5

Overall: De Garde is simply killing it with Berliners. Seek this beer out!

Cost: $10 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beer Review: Sleedoorn

Reviewing Sleedoorn, a gueuze from Uli/Huisstekerij H.ertie out of Germany. This gueuze is a blend of different lambic from Lindeman's Drie Fonteinen, Oud Beersel, Girardin, Hanssens, Boon and Cantillon.

Score: 90

Bottled 02/01/13. Served in a Drie Fonteinen "3" tumbler and enjoyed on 01/12/14. Huge thanks to Paul for sharing this treat with me.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy pink grapefruit color with a darker center. No head, lacing or retention to speak of, but what a lovely color! 4/5

Smell: Has that traditional slightly funky, lemon zesty and oak Drie Fonteinen gueuze aroma with an overlying berriness that I cannot quite pin down. Nice young funk, lightly dank grassiness. 4.5/5

Taste: Zesty berry with a lightly dank, young funk. Lacto-y finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, virtually no carbonation despite an effervescent pour. Surprisingly acidic with a pleasant tartness. 3.5/5

Overall: Good, not great lambic. Not one of Uli's better blends, but still pretty tasty.

Cost: Unknown for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beer Review: Haymarket Smoked Chocolate Coffee Porter

Reviewing the Smoked Chocolate Coffee Porter from Haymarket Pub and Brewery out of Chicago, Illinois. In case the name of the beer was not descriptive enough, this beer is a smoked porter with coffee and chocolate.

Score: 90

Tap pour served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 01/12/14 at Haymarket's anniversary party

Appearance: Cloudy and murky dark brown in color. Served with no head. No lacing or retention. 2/5

Smell: Smoked coffee and bakers chocolate on the nose. Less smoke than first strike, and doesn't smell straight up like bacon like first. 4.25/5

Taste: Tastes exactly like it smells, but less chocolatey. Mostly roast, smoke and chocolate. Good balance. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, slightly under carbonated. Nice smokiness and roast bitter mix. 3.5/5

Overall: A nice smoke beer from a local bar. I would buy another if available next time I stop in.

Cost: $2 for a 4 oz pour, $6 for a 12 oz pour.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Beer Review: Veritas 012

Reviewing Veritas 012 from The Lost Abbey out of San Marcos, California. According to The Lost Abbey, Veritas 012 is a blend of blond sours with cherries that is similar to Cable Car Kriek.

Score: 85

2013 vintage bottle served in a The Lost Abbey teku and enjoyed on 01/12/14.

Appearance: GUSHER ALERT! Pours a slightly pinkish-orange color with a thin layer of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Good lacing, average retention. 4/5

Smell: Cherry, vinegar, funk and buttered popcorn. Some oak and a little brown sugar. This is your classic acidic Lost Abbey nose with a heavy and unpleasant buttered popcorn twist 2/5

Taste: A lot more zesty, tart cherry on the palate than in the nose and virtually no butter. Oak, lite funk, and a dash of lemon. Light vinegar backbone. Finish is acidic cherry vinegar and young funk. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light plus bodied, good carbonation. Nice zesty sourness, with a little sweetness. Acidic, but not to the degree of an Upland sour. 4/5

Overall: A nice sour cherry beer that has a buttery nose and a hunt of butter in taste. While solid, this is certainly no Cable Car Kriek and it is not worth what it costs even at retail (let alone on the secondary/trade market).

Cost: $40 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Beer Review: Madness & Civilization #1

Reviewing the Madness & Civilization #1 from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Score: 75

Spring 2013 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 01/12/14.

Appearance: Pours a black color with one to two fingers of dark tan head that settles to a thin layer. Above average lacing, very good retention. 4/5

Smell: Milk chocolate, oak, hint of vanilla. Touch of brown sugar. Hint of booze too. 4/5

Taste: Sharp, acidic oak-forward bourbon flavor. Chocolate and alcohol finish. 2.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, more carbonation than necessary for the flavor profile. Bitter and acidic. 2.5/5

Overall: Supremely disappointing, particularly compared to Damon and Bourbon Barrel Aged Genealogy of Morals. This was not one of Shaun's better stouts. If you are going to spend big to acquire a Hill Farmstead beer, I recommend considering alternative possibilities.

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Beer Review: Templeton Rye Barrel Aged Nina’s Belgian Abbey Quadrupel

Reviewing the Templeton Rye Barrel Aged Nina’s Belgian Abbey Quadrupel from Haymarket Pub and Brewery out of Chicago, Illinois.

Score: 94

Tap pour served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 01/12/14 at Haymarket's anniversary party.

Appearance: Color is murky/cloudy chestnut brown with a darker center that lightens towards the edges. Served with a tan ring around glass of head. Average lacing and retention. Appearance is pretty much like I expected. 4/5

Smell: Sweet fig, raisin, dark berries, cocoa, toffee, tiramissu, butterscotch, bourbon, oak, and light vanilla. The complexities imparted from the bourbon aging and amplified (dark) fruitiness of the base beer mix wonderfully here. Marvelous integration on the nose. 4.5/5

Taste: Tastes like a decadent dark fruit dessert. Sweet fig, toffee, chocolate and raisin upfront, then brown sugar, oak, light bourbon flavor and a faint spice on the back half. Finishes with a nice sweet dark fruit medley. Really, really lovely. I did not expect to like, let alone love, this beer. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. Nice dark fruit sweetness and decadent richness without being cloying. Dry finish. 4.5/5

Overall: The most unexpectedly awesome beer of the night. I was compelled to purchase a growler of this, I loved it so much. The bourbon flavors and dark fruit work so well here. If you see this on tap, I highly recommend purchasing a pour.

Cost: $3 for a 4 oz pour, $9 for a 12 oz pour.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beer Review: Uber Mathias

Reviewing the Uber Mathias, an imperial Belgian IPA from Haymarket Pub and Brewery out of Chicago, Illinois. This beer is their Mathias (a Citra-hopped Belgian IPA) dry hopped with 10 pounds of Cascade hops per barrel.

Score: 97

Tap pour served in a GLASS and enjoyed on 01/12/14 at Haymarket's anniversary party.

Appearance: Pours a murky pale sunrise color with almost a finger of frothy head that settles to a nice thin layer. Excellent lacing and retention. 5/5

Smell: Nuge tropical fruit nose: tangerine, grapefruit, orange, lemon, pineapple! A little spice, nice dank piney character too. Light Belgian yeast esters too (less than regular Mathias). Smells like Heady Topper with a light Belgian twist. 4.75/5

Taste: Bright and fresh tropical fruit juice with a lovely piney hop backbone and a more prominent Belgian yeast character than than nose, akin to To Live A Rich Life. Nice fruity yeast undertones. Lovely orange and tangerine finish. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Hugely juicy, low carbonation. Dry finish, which makes for a nice mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: One of my favorite hoppy beers brewed in Chicago. I wish this beer was on tap more often.

Cost: $3 for a 4 oz pour, $9 for a 12 oz pour.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mead Review: The Heart of Darkness

Reviewing The Heart of Darkness, a mead produced by Schramm's Meadery out of Ferndale, Michigan. Schramm's Meadery is a relatively new -- located a stone's throw away from B. Nektar (who released the first commercial iterations of The Heart of Darkness as a collaboration) and a short drive from Kuhnhenn's Brewing Company -- but Ken Schramm is no stranger to great mead. This labor of love mead is comprised of hand-picked and hand-pitted morello cherries that were fermented with black currants, red raspberries and locally sourced honey.

Score: 100

December 2012 bottle served in a stemmed Cantillon tulip and enjoyed on 01/04/14 while on vacation in Mexico.

Appearance: Pours a lovely deep, dark reddish purple color that is evocative of a red wine, with ample ruby highlights and a little fade towards out outer edges. Sticky, oily legs. Swirling tints the sides of the glass with a light reddish purple color. 5/5

Smell: The nose is a fruit parade. Fruity raspberry, a little honey sweetness and currant/cherry. Smells like a lovely, fruity all berry jam with a prominent (but not overpowering) honey twist. Absolutely lovely integration of the fruitiness. A touch of booziness on the nose too, akin to a "greener" red wine. Truly amazing. 5/5

Taste: Fresh, tart raspberry jam hits first, then a wave of fruity currant and then a wave of cherry, with each prior fruit lingering and blending nicely with the latter waves. The honey character is most prominent on the finish, with a touch of booziness in the finish too. These flavors are integrated perfectly. Allowing this delectable elixir to sit on the tongue longer accentuates the tartness and jamminess of the raspberry character, in addition to a bit more of the booze. Great, lasting finish. So delicious. 5/5

Mouthfeel: This mead falls on the drier side of semi-sweet meads. Viscous, jammy body, with a nice tartness. The tinge of booziness and dryness and tartness all mix well to make a really interesting and lively mouthfeel. 5/5

Overall: Although this site is primarily devoted to beer, The Heart of Darkness is an epic libation that demands your attention. I walked into Schramm's thinking "who is crazy enough to buy a $100 mead", and walked out with three bottles after sampling it. This mead is jammy, with a nice tartness, and is dangerously drinkable being on the drier side of the semi-sweet (or maybe sweeter side of dry) meads. You won't think this one is too sweet; you'll only wish it came in a larger format than 375 ml once your glass it empty. Seek this one out with confidence when the next batch is released. You will not be disappointed, especially if you like red wines.

Cost: $100 for a 375 ml bottle.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Beer Review: Michigan Raw Barleywine

Reviewing the Michigan Raw Barleywine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company out of Warren, Michigan.

Score: 87

December 2013 vintage bottle. Served in a Kuhnhenn snifter and enjoyed on 12/30/13.

Appearance: Pours a clean, translucent orange honey color with a thin wisp of off-white head from the pour that settles to a thin bubbly ring around the glass. Below average lacing and poor retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Orangey hops, a little grassiness and big maltiness. Comes off like an orange peel randalled Three Floyd's Behemoth. A faint hint of onion too. 4/5

Taste: Orange, sweet caramel malt, woody pine and a little spice. Has a little bitterness, but not a huge bite. Simple, but drinkable. A little booziness toward finish too, but the alcohol heft goes nice with the bitter and spice. The malt character finishes with a nice linger. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation in a slightly under-carbonated kind of way. Oily mouthfeel. Malty, with a non-biting, mild bitterness. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid beer that lives on the blurred line between a malty double IPA and hoppy barleywine. At $6, the price point was acceptable, but this is not a beer I would spend any effort revisiting.

Cost: $6 for a 12 oz bottle.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Beer Review: Winds of Change

Reviewing the Winds of Change, a bretted pale ale from O'so Brewing Company out of Plover, Wisconsin.

Score: 91

January 2014 vintage bottle served in a Toppling Goliath chalice and enjoyed on 02/02/14.

Appearance: Pours an opaque orange color with two fingers of off-white head that settles to a bubbly ring around the glass. Good lacing and retention, crazy cling factor. 4.5/5

Smell: Bretty peaches, mango, tangerine, pineapple, straw and grassy hops. Lots of tropical character mixed with a heavy hand of Brett and straw. 4/5

Taste: Light tartness upfront, bitter on the finish. Bretty peaches, tropical fruit and straw. Nice lasting hop flavor. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodies, good carbonation. Nice hop bitterness, very juicy with a little dryness to the finish. 4.25/5

Overall: This is the beer that that I expected Hop Savant to be. The price is right, and I would definitely pick up another bottle if I saw it at the store.

Cost: $10 for a 750 ml bottle.