Monday, November 24, 2014

Beer Review: The Lily

Reviewing The Lily, an American wild ale fermented in oak barrels with Tempranillo grapes from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 70

2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Perennial wine glass and enjoyed on 06/23/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent dark ruby color with a light purplish tinge with a half finger of cream color head that settles to a thick ring around the glass. Very good lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Graham crackers, strawberry jam and grape! Light oak and little raspberry too. Underneath the fruit character is a lactic acid backbone that is not too intense, but adds a nice zestiness and boldness to the nose. This beer reminds me of a better Madame Rose. I absolutely love the graham cracker and strawberry here! As it warms up, the nose sadly loses a little bit of its zing and brightness. Nonetheless, it remains pretty appealing. 4.5/5

Taste: Less lacto on taste than the nose, with the lacto character mostly limited to the finish. Strawberry seed jamminess, oak and grape upfront with a little vanilla too. Finishes with an unpleasantly funky rubber band flavor with unfortunate lasting power. The upfront flavor is really nice, but this beer leaves you with a lastingly, unpleasant taste in your mouth. As it warms, the funkiness softens a bit, but at the expense of some tartness and in tandem with an exacerbation of its under-carbonation. Based on the reviews and reputation of this beer, maybe I got an "off" bottle? 3/5

Mouthfeel: Thin-medium bodied, under-carbonated. Dry finish. Lasting funkiness. 2/5

Overall: Excellent smell and a good flavor absolutely marred by a unpleasantly funky finish and under-carbonation. Bottle variation? Maybe. But given the hype I'll stick to their more consistent bottles.

Cost: $15 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beer Review: Vanglorious

Reviewing the Vanglorious from the Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois. This glorious Clyborn brewpub creation is their Vanitas (a Belgian-style stout aged in a mix of bourbon and red wine barrels) blended with black raspberries and black cat espresso from intelligentsia.

Score: 97

Tap pour served in a 10 oz snifter and enjoyed on 09/18/14.

Appearance: Deep brown/black in color. Served with less than a half finger of khaki head with a visibly purplish/pink hue to it, which settles to a ring around the glass. Great lacing and retention. Clean in appearance. I am loving the purplish/pink hue to the otherwise traditional stout appearance -- it is really cool and unique. 5/5

Smell: The nose is a lovely mix of raspberry, roast, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, and jammy fruit. Bold and well-integrated. This smells like a masterful blend of Bramble Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout and Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout  4.75/5

Taste: Tastes just like it smells -- a marvelous mix of coffee and chocolate and fruit and jammy raspberry with a light oak character. The barrel character is very subtle overall, and I certainly would not have been able to tell you this was aged in red wine barrels but for the waitress relaying that fact to me. Marvelous integration, with a nice lasting finish of roast and raspberry. While you might get committed to a mental asylum for shouting "raspberry" in response to "coffee" during a game of word association, these otherwise oddly paired flavors totally work here. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Unfortunately, the body on this beer lacks heft (though it is not "thin" bodied). Low carbonation. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. Good balance between the slightly tangy fruit and the bitterness/roast. 3.5/5

Overall: I could drink this keg dry (and pretty much did). I wish that Goose Island had bottled this instead of Grim Vicar.

Cost: $6 for a 5 oz pour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beer Review: The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose

Reviewing The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville out of Boonville, California.

Score: 78

Forgot to check the canning date. Served in a mini nonic pint glass and enjoyed on 10/12/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent, dull dandelion/gold wheat color with a finger of fizzy soda like head that quickly and completely settles. Clean, effervescent appearance. 3.5/5

Smell: Sour grain, corn, lemon and doughiness. A touch of funk. Pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Tart/sour grain/malt upfront followed by sea salt and a hint of lemon upfront. Finishes with sweet corn/grain and little plasticky funk on the finish. I did not care for the finish. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, amply carbonated. Has a good sour bite upfront followed by a sweet and salty middle/finish. Really pleasant, save for the lingering plasticky corn funk. 4.25/5

Overall: A poor man's alternative to Westbook Gose, akin to settling for Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout in lieu of Bourbon County Brandy Stout. It will do the job, but it is no substitute.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz can (bar price).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beer Review: Thrillseeker IPA

Reviewing the Thrillseeker IPA from Beachwood BBQ & Brewing out of Long Beach, California. This "west cost-style" IPA is generously hopped with a mix of Chinook, Summit, Centennial, and Simcoe hops.

Score: 90

Bottled the last week of September 2014. Served in a Kate the Great snifter and enjoyed on 10/13/14. Thank you Jazz for sending me this one!

Appearance: Pours a clean, transparent honey color with a finger of white head that settles to a thin, coating layer. Amazing lacing and retention. Quite a beautiful IPA. 5/5

Smell: A big citrus blast followed by a light earthy kick that rounds out the aroma. Orange, grapefruit, citrus, sweet malt, mango, pine and bready malt. A touch herbal too. Quite pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Earthy and bitter upfront, followed by orange rind, lemon and grapefruit on the finish. Lingering grapefruit and bitterness. This is a really pleasant, bitterly citrusy IPA. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, appropriate carbonation. Watery/juicy mouthfeel with a dry, bitter, and slightly astringent finish. This IPA has a pleasantly bitter kick with a lingering finish. 4/5

Overall: An unexpectedly pleasant IPA. I saw Summit on the label and expected to hate this, but I did not get any onion character -- just a pleasantly complex earthiness mixed amongst a nice citrusy, bitter IPA profile. This is my kind of IPA.

Cost: $8 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beer Review: 3-Way IPA

Reviewing the 3-Way IPA, an IPA collaboration among Oregon breweries Block 15, Boneyard Beer Company and Fort George Brewery.

Score: 92

Canned 07/15/14. Served in a Hopslam tulip/snifter combo glass and enjoyed on 08/14/14.

Appearance: Pours a transparent honey color with some hazy floaties. Pours two fingers of head that settles to a thin ring around the glass. Poor lacing, okay retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Pine, grapefruit, oak, black pepper, honey and pineapple. Nice malty sweetness underlying. Appetizingly bold IPA nose. 4.25/5

Taste: Sweet caramel malt, bitter grapefruit, pine, spicy hops and a little black pepper on the finish. Really well done IPA with a nice mix of tropical fruit, bitterness and malty sweetness. Lasting spicy hop, sweet malt and bitter grapefruit. Nice integration. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Oily mouthfeel. Bitter finish with a light sweetness. 4.25/5

Overall: Impressive under-the-radar IPA.

Cost: $9.99 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beer Review: Blueberry Flora

Reviewing Blueberry Flora from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont.

Score: 87

February 2014 vintage bottle from the June 2014 release, served in a stemmed Hill Farmstead taster glass and enjoyed on 08/06/14. Thank you Paul for the chance to tick this one!

Appearance: Pours a murky blueberry juice purple color, with a thin layer of head that completely settles. No lacing or retention, with a little residual oiliness that clings to the sides of the glass. 4/5

Smell: Blueberries and oak. A hint of citrus, and a little bit of wine/tannic character on the back half of the whiff. Some blue cheese/yogurty funk too. 3.75/5

Taste: Tart, but delicate blueberry flavor throughout. A hint of lemon zest upfront, with a wine flavored finish. Has a bit of that cheesy/yogurt funk lingering on the finish too, which I do not love, but which is also not pronounced enough to ruin the beer. Notes of oak and wheat on the finish too, increasingly so as it warms, masking much of the funk. 3.75

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, appropriately carbonated. Has a delicateness to the sourness, without much acidity, though the finish is like a white wine with a mild tannic character. A little bit creamy on the mouthfeel. The dregs of the bottle make the last sips super dry. 4.5/5

Overall: This beer is complex and has an excellent mouthfeel, but I would prefer more blueberry fruitiness/tartness and less funk. I much prefer a blueberry sour more in the vein of Blueberry Flanders to this brew (though they are entirely different creatures).

Cost: $20 for a 500 ml bottle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beer Review: Ghost Face Killah

Reviewing the Ghost Face Killah from Twisted Pine Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado

Score: 40

Unknown vintage bottle served in a 7venth Sun snifter and enjoyed on 08/24/14. Thank you Robbie Moy for the bottle...

Appearance: Pours an opaque, light orange color with a finger of cream-colored head that almost instantaneously settles entirely. No lacing or retention. 3/5

Smell: Fresh jalapenos, chili peppers, salsa, cilantro and a little tropical fruit. It's a bit vegetal, but not bad. The nose gives off the distinct impression that it is going to be pretty spicy. 3/5

Taste: There is not much flavor; just pepper heat. Vegetal chili peppers with a hint of cilantro hit initially, followed by a big spiciness on the front of the tongue that moves up the sides of the tongue before receding back and lingering on the front and top of the tongue. The center of the tongue has a lingering chili pepper flavor. This brew is one note, quite spicy and general unpleasant to drink. I'm sure it has its niche, and heat fiends probably do not find it unpalatable. However, 4 oz was my limit. 1.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, fizzy carbonation that really accentuates the heat. Spicy with a little bit of tropical fruit-like sweetness. The spiciness is long lasting. If big, lasting chili spiciness is what you want in a beer, this is your ale. 3/5

Overall: A hot, vegetal novelty that got tiresome and unpleasant before I could get halfway down the glass. If you are the kind of person that enjoys dumping a full bottle of Dave's insanity sauce on your food, I recommend you give this brew a whirl. I think I can confidently say that all others can life a happy and fulfilled life without ever having consumed this.

Cost: $3.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beer Review: Cerveza de Tempranillo

Reviewing the Cerveza de Tempranillo, a barrel aged wild ale refermented with Tempranillo grapes from Jester King Craft Brewery out of Austin, Texas.

Score: 85

January 2014 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 08/20/14.

Appearance: Clean appearance; red grape/cherry juice red in color,. Pours a thin layer of off white head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, solid retention. Love the color, though its not as vibrant at other fruited sour projects I have encountered in recent memory. 4.25/5

Smell: Sweet grape, must, oak/wood, dusty attic funk and a hint of bleu cheese. The funk seems more present  on some whiffs, while absent on others. Bizarre. 3/5

Taste: Red wine-like, dryly sweet grape flavor with a little bit of cheesy funk on the finish. Vinous and a bit tannic. Cold and right after the bottle is opened, there is a bit of funk that largely breathes out after about 20 or 30 minutes. Tastes more like wine than a (sour) beer. Finishes with a mix of acidity and fusel alcohol, plus a hint of residual vinegar. Not quite what I was expecting, but solid. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, low carbonation (maybe a touch under-carbonated). Modestly sweet profile with a tannic, dry finish. Drinks very wine-like, and unlike a beer. 3.75/5

Overall: Solid, but nothing special. Drinks more like a red wine with a bit of funk than a beer.

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beer Review: Fleur Desay

Reviewing Fleur Desay, a sour farmhouse gruit aged in oak chardonnay beer from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 97

2014 vintage bottle served in a Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 08/20/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky yellow orange color that fades from orange to yellow from bottom to top with a thin layer of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, but good retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Sour melon, strawberry/fruity, grapefruit, orange, lemon, sour wheat, wine, white grape, and a kiss of herbal something or another and lacto. Faint, faint hint of butteriness, but it surprisingly works. Wonderful and complex! 4.75/5

Taste: White grape, watermelon lemonade, citrus fruitiness and strawberry. Spritzy sourness, with a crisp, but sour finish. A little nondescript spice and mild acidity on the midpalate. Perfect integration. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, spritzy carbonation. Nice sourness (accentuated by the carbonation) with a little residual sweetness and good liveliness on the gums. Dry finish. Nice acidity level too. 4.75/5

Overall: One of the best De Garde beers I have sampled to date. I find that Trevor's brews are often hit-or-miss, but man, when they hit... Seek this one out with confidence!

Cost: $10 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Beer Review: Farmer's Reserve No. 1

Reviewing the Farmer's Reserve No. 1, a wild ale brewed with plums and three different types of grapes from the Almanac Beer Co. out of San Francisco, California.

Score: 85

February 2013 vintage bottle served in a 7venth Sun snifter and enjoyed on 08/19/14. Thank you Fabrizio for the bottle!

Appearance: Reddish orange in color with a distinct yellow fade when held up to the light. Pours a half finger of head that settles to a ring around the glass with an island of residual froth floating in the center of the glass. Excellent lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Grape, plum, lemon, must, pear and a little lactic acid. Straight out of the fridge there is a distinctly unpleasant waft of poo poo pediococcus, but this disappears as the beer sits out to breath for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, quite pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Stone fruit and grape upfront, lacto and a residual sweetness on the finish. Sourness comes mostly across in the middle. Slightly buttery on the finish, with a little lasting power. Solid, but unspectacular. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium/medium-light carbonation. Nice, but not strong, sourness. Modestly dry finish. 3.5/5

Overall: There's a bit of off flavor here, most of which airs out as the beer warms up and gets a chance to breathe, but this is/was a solid first commercially brewed (fruited) wild ale from a newer brewery. Later sour projects such as Farmer's Reserve No. 3 and the Pluot sour certainly demonstrate their competence as a local alternative to Russian River.

Cost: $12.99 for a 375 ml bottle.