Friday, October 29, 2010

Widmer Bros Barrel Aged Brrrbon

Barrel Aged Brrrbon
Brothers' Reserve Series
Brrr aged in Bourbon Oak Barrels
9.4% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Fresh white oak, if there is such a thing. I say fresh and white because the wood character comes off the top edgy and young. Second to the oak you'll find Bourbon notes and alcohol, with the Bourbon slightly winning over. No hop aroma, little to no malt in the nose either. There is an underlying 'rust' aroma, and I don't mean to imply Metallic. Simply an earthy blend of wood and alcohol.

Appearance: The lightest brown to mahogany red with crystal clarity. Head is but a trace of an off-white ring at the edge of the glass. Touches of lacing here and there.

Flavor: Sweet toasted bread malt with the expected wooded bourbon quickly following up the malt. These two flavors dominate the palate, while black pepper, some clove and all-spice blend into the mix. Finish is biting from the bourbon, but the malt sweetness hangs on.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. The carbonation is similar to cask conditioned ales, with only the slightest presence. 9.4% Alcohol hits the back of the throat in the finish

Overall: There is a welcoming Winter Brew character to this beer that fits the season nicely. The Bourbon oak aroma is like sticking your nose in a freshly toasted oak barrel. Typically I find oak aged beers have a deeper wood presence, but the barrel aging here tells of youthful oak. Personally I enjoy the change, but some will find the wood to be too 'green' I imagine.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.

Note: After rating this beer on I noticed my rating carried a deviation of 12% greater than the current norm. Overall, as of this writing, this beer scores a solid “B”. While I am certain I have a bias toward Widmer Brother’s for my own reason, I am also certain there are many people who carry the opposite bias, for whatever reason.

I may choose to write further on this subject. Though for now I can only speculate why I often see negative comments toward this long-running and successful brewery. Perhaps it’s their relatively large size, their affiliation with AB-Inbev, or perhaps because they weren’t going out on a limb with extreme brews for a number of years. Whatever the reason I would challenge any beer dork to blind taste tests with Widmer in the mix, it would probably be healthy for me as well. I would wager the results would be surprising.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oskar Blues GUBNA

Oskar Blues GUBNA
Imperial IPA
On Tap at the 4 Daughter’s Irish Pub. Medford, OR

Aroma: At first, and especially when the beer is cold, the primary aroma is rich citrus and grapefruit hop aroma. Letting the beer warm up, a deeper oragne-peel cooked in bread malt aroma will make itself present, accompanying the straight up hop presence. Light traces of alcohol burn the nose just enough to let you know this beer is 10% ABV.

Appearance: Light diluted copper with a medium amount of chill haze, or more likely a haze from excessive hop additions. A thin white head forms along the sides of the glass, though not across the top of the entire beer. Alcohol presence aids in good lacing down the sides.

Flavor: Sweet malt presence is surprisingly strong with this beer. There is almost the sense of under-attenuation here but thankfully there is enough hop bitterness and alcohol presence to balance things out. Bitterness comes out a moderate amount at the middle, but is more pronounced at the end. Alcohol warmth and bite are probably the most prominent, along with biscuit-malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Prickly carbonation combine with hop bitterness to clean out a sticky-sweet malt from your palate. The finish is an equal balance of the hop bitterness and alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is certainly the sweetest representation of a Double IPA I’ve tasted in memory. In a way it’s overly sweet, as you drink the glass it becomes a bit too much as your palate adjusts. It’s a delicious brew never the less and I recommend it, as it’s a tasty interpretation on this sometimes over-the-top style. Easy drinking, warming and certainly packs an alcohol punch.

I rated this beer a “B” on BeerAdvocate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stone Ruination IPA

The movie How to Train Your Dragon was recently released. My house has been overrun by Dragons. Here they are with Stone's Gargoyle. Note the actual beer to the left...

Stone Ruination IPA
American Double IPA
ABV 7.7%
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Moderate levels of orange peel hop aroma with some pepper thrown into the mix as well. Quite resinous throughout the nose, but not unbalanced or undesirable. Malt is hidden but you can pick up some bread crust if you look past the hop cones.

Appearance: Deep golden to nearly orange with a well retained, but thin, white head. The beer is quite hazy which makes you expect a yeast presence, though I suspect it is from dry-hopping. Good lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: A sting of hop bitterness right off the bat, then there is just a touch of bready-malt sweetness coming through for a moment. More orange peel and grassy hop bitterness and flavor come through in the middle and they hold on to the bitter end.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation. The prickly sensation of extreme amounts of hop bitterness could be perceived as carbonation in a way. Hops attack the tongue and back of the throat with bitterness that both cleans the mouth dry, yet leaves an oil in your mouth that continues to spew bitterness long after the beer flows down the throat.

Overall: The hop aroma in this beer oddly doesn't fully give the full story as to just how bitter this beer truly is. It has a beautiful hop nose, but the bitterness and flavor far out weigh the aroma. This is liquid hops. Citric and grassy hops are highlighted in ways that I've only seen otherwise in fresh hop beers.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10

Stone Brewing Company
Vertical Epic 10.10.10
Purchased at 99 Bottles.

Aroma: Clove, coriander and Belgian yeast phenolic spice all come to mind with the first intake of this beer. A mild alcoholic pepper fills in the background of this generally flowery brew. Hop aroma is not detectable beyond the floral notes, but there is a faint undertone of fresh white bread to bring out the malt here.

Appearance: As gold as a wedding band with diamond clarity. There is a strong presence of carbonation bubbles seen rising to the top. They break to form a solid but thin layer of white head. Traces of lacing.

Flavor: Light pale malt sweetness hits the tongue for just a moment then it's pushed away by a tangy, but not quite sour, grape skin. There is a blend of pepper and spices that constantly crash together in your mouth. Trying to pick out each one is nearly impossible, but I'd say clove and all-spice are prominent. The blend of spices, as well as a touch of alcohol, does tend to confuse the palate if you focus on it too much.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. The culmination of Herbs and Spices in this beer tingle the tongue, roof of the mouth, and back of the throat as it works its way around your mouth. This has a refreshing effect overall. Finish is dry with a final report from the alcohol as it bites the back of the throat.

Overall: There is a mess of flavors in this beer that I admit I am not able to entirely pick out. Looking into each spice can be daunting with a beer like this. And while there is a lot going on, the beer does not come off mottled or overdone. Taking a straight forward sip however, this years Vertical Epic has a cooling and refreshing quality. The spices are crisp with just enough alcohol to let you know it's there. Though I wouldn't have guessed it's the 9.5% as stated on the bottle.

I purchased 2 bottles, and I doubt the second will last in my house 6 months. But if you're the aging type, I'm guessing this beer will mellow quite nicely. But if the spices remain as clearly defined, only time will tell.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.
99 Bottles. Federal Way, WA

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
7% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Prominent nutmeg will hit the nose first with an underlying aroma of pumpkin pie. The label says cinnamon but I get a lot more clove than cinnamon. No notable hop aroma or malt texture.

Appearance: Polished copper with brilliant clarity. The head pours a low layer of white frosting on top of the beer and sticks lightly to the edge of the glass.

Flavor: A delicate balance of malt sweetness blended with candy sugar and light nutmeg. These flavors hit the tongue right away, but as the palate gets used to the sugar and spice the malt sweetness becomes more prominent overall. It's reasonably lightly spiced, which pleasantly allows some hop bitterness through. Finish is dry with traces of sugar sweetness left behind.

Mouthfeel: Medium light body with light carbonation. The body starts out slightly watery but there is the presence of light syrup in the middle which fills things out. Finish leaves some stickiness behind. Little to no alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is a surprisingly easy drinking pumpkin ale that doesn't try to go over the top on the pumpkin aspect. Though on that note I would say they could push the pumpkin in a little more. If you were handed this beer without knowing what it was you'd probably call it an Amber Ale with nutmeg added. Not necessarily a Pumpkin Ale. Definitely a nice drinking beer with an even blend of spices, sugar, and malt sweetness. I'd buy it again. But it could use a little more pumpkin.

I rated this beer a "B+" on BeerAdvocate.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Schell's Barrel Aged Schmaltz's Alt

August Schell Brewing Co.
Barrel Aged Schmaltz's Alt
Batch No.1
Purchased at Blue Max Liquors

My wife went to Minnesota and brought back a few local ales. Here is one of them which she bought because Schell's holds "a special place in her heart" due to Bock Fest.

Aroma: A bright and full nose of red cherries with just a hint of oak following that up. Some dark fruits are also noted. ABV is not stated on the bottle but there is a moderate among of alcohol spice coming off the beer as well. A bit of chocolate is just barely noticeable. No hop aroma.

Appearance: Black body with clear ruby highlights along the edges and top. Head poured about one finger of tan large bubbles, but faded quickly to a trace of a ring along the outside.

Flavor: Light caramel blended with some plum and roasted malt. Sweet chocolate works its way in as well toward the middle where hop bitterness makes a showing ever so slightly. Finish is very clean with a touch of malt sugars left behind for sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Light body with light carbonation. It's either the roast or barrel aging that give a sense of dryness on the palate right in the middle, then the beer ends very crisp and dry. Light visit from hop bitterness in the finish.

Overall: Surprisingly light flavors coming off this beer, especially when you consider the relatively complex aroma. The dark fruit and light cherry character is very nice in the nose, but doesn't fully transcend to the flavor. A nice beer to enjoy on a cool Autumn evening, but still an easy drinking ale.

I rated this beer a "B" on BeerAdvocate.
Blue Max Liquors (Link is to Yelp. Blue Max appears to have no website.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maui Brewing Coconut Porter

Maui Brewing
Coconut Porter
Style: American Porter
5.7% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles.

Aroma: Deep sweet chocolate almost completely dominates the nose. A rustic dry hay-like presence is noted lingering in the background. This can come of as somewhat grainy as well. No hop aroma. No detectable coconut.

Appearance: Black. Black like the shadow of a thousand crows. A light tan head forms after the pour but fades quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass. Light lacing.

Flavor: Sweet chocolate once again up front with a quick follow up of light coconut. The coconut adds a level of tartness, though it is very subtle. Roast presents itself toward the finish as well as a trace of hop bitterness. Finish is lightly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation. I say this because the carbonation comes off a bit 'fizzy'. Roast dries out the palate toward the finish and carbonation scrapes the tongue dry.

Overall: A surprisingly sweet porter with just enough coconut milk presence in the mix to make it noticeable. I would welcome a splash more coconut, but it's probably very easy to go too far with that. Carbonation is too high for me, but it does make this beer refreshing. Even with the thermometer at 90 degrees F today, the beer goes down well.

I rated this beer a “B+” on BeerAdvocate.

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Beer enthusiast and advocate. Recognized beer judge and traveler of west coast beer destinations.