Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hale's Pale Ale

Do you know how much beer I would drink if I lived in Seattle, Washington? All that rain, no sunshine, and the runaway capital of the US? Probably about the same as here, but that is beside the point...

Hale's Pale Ale was born the same year I was, 1983, on Independence Day. It is Hale's flagship brew, and pours a clear copper color with a small lace head that dissipates quickly. Smells a bit like gin to me, earthy and kind of like pine resin.

The flavoring is thinner than I had hoped for, there are some spicy hop notes, and a definite malt base but the mouthfeel is watery. I taste a little citrus in the finish, but there is hardly any aftertaste so I was actually surprised when there was no beer left in the glass. Not horrible, but there are definitely more enticing pales out there!

Random Post...

There are several beers that I have sampled over the years that I am not proud of, and I really don't feel like taking the time to review them individually - because they all suck. I will acknowledge each of them in this post, and leave it at that.

I would highly advise staying away from any and all of these if you wish to be respected by/drink with me...

Amstel Light


Bud Light

Bud Light Lime

Budweiser Select


Coors Light


Corona Light

Heineken Dark

Heineken Light

King Cobra


Michelob Amber Bock

Michelob Honey Lager

Michelob Irish Red

Michelob Light

Michelob Pale Ale

Michelob Porter

Michelob Ultra

Michelob Ultra Amber

Mickey's Malt Liquor

Miller Chill

Miller Genuine Draft (MGD)

Miller High Life

Miller Lite

Milwaukee's Best Light

Modelo Especial

Natural Light

Old Milwaukee

Rolling Rock

Schlitz Malt Liquor

Steel Reserve High Gravity Lager

Tecate Cerveza

Yes, all of these poor decisions...and then there are the Ciders. There is a special place in Hell reserved for those that "brew" these pitiful excuses for an alcoholic beverage - and only the seventh circle is where you find those that actually drink it - my sampling was only on dares and lost bets...but I have special set of posts that will be devoted to them. More to come...

Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout

What is it about a nitro can that makes me go crazy? The beer pours almost like out of a tap from these tall, usually pint-sized cans, and I honestly have yet to try anything from one that I haven't liked.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout pours similar to a Guinness, dark brown with a cascading tan head that foams to the top. The brew smell (quite obviously) like chocolate milk, as it is, "Ale with natural chocolate flavor added."

You can't see through this beer at all, and it is very creamy. It tasted like a chocolate flavored creamer was added to a small bit of coffee - or day I say it - added to a Guinness Draught. The brew has a thinner mouthfeel, but it feels right for this style drink. Unfortunately, it appears that this beer has been removed from Young's production line...All in all, though, another very good stout!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Terrapin Wake 'N' Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

So, in the continual search to find a stout that I DON'T like...I happily strike out again!

Wake 'N' Bake is a jet black stout that has the appearance and consistency of 5W-30. The pour produces a large three-finger chocolate brown head. This brew has a very interesting aroma, it smells spicy like red pepper and very chocolatey. You can taste the milk chocolate and coffee right there in the first sip. The oatmeal sweetness of the brew fades in during the aftertaste.

This brew is incredibly foamy and creamy, and leaves a heavy lace film like drinking chocolate milk. The stout is extraordinarily good, up there with the best I have had - and at 8.1% ABV it will warm you right up! Probably the best part of the brew is Terrapin's coordination with Athens, Georgia's Jittery Joe's Coffee that is added to the freshly brewed beer. I can pick out the individual flavors of the beer, but the blending and complexity is what makes this beer rise above!

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster Imperial Red Ale

This was the first installment of the "Monster Beer Tour", and Terrapin hasn't looked back since! These heavy handed beers have certainly made an impression on me!

Big Hoppy Monster is a dark ruby colored, cloudy brew that smells like a combination of chocolate and hops. It has a tan, foamy head of small bubbles. The first sip is quite hoppy (you think?), but then the HEAVY dark malt swells to the front in this full-bodied beer, just to once again give way to the hops again at the back of the throat. The hop flavoring is extremely complex, with spicy notes at some points and very grassy - almost wet hay, earthy flavors at other points.

The thick malt and 8.3% ABV mixed with the hops give the brew an earthy texture and taste that is unmatched. Hopefully Terrapin never tires of dreaming up the next good beer for this tour!

Bitburger Premium

What else can I say about German beer? - It has all been brewed for years, and even their pale, light stuff is great!

Bitburger is a clear, light-yellow brew with a thin, white head of tiny bubbles that is almost 200 years old! The beer has the smell of the sweetness of tree fruits - I think I pick out apples and pears. The first taste is of bitter hops and a nice thin mouthfeel. The pale malt gives it the taste of a traditional bitter - this brew is very drinkable and crisp. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that this has been voted Germany's #1 draught beer - only because there are so many good old brews from Deutschland  - not because it isn't deserving!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grolsch Lager

I hate a green-bottled beer from Holland...actually, more often that not, I hate beer in a green bottle - period. I do have to admit that the design of the bottle is cool with the swing-top, but it just can't compensate for crappy beer.

The most unsettling fact about this beer, to me, is that its own website shows that throughout all of the 1900s the brewery used brown bottles - it wasn't until the year 2000 that they decided to go back to the iconic green. The problem with this is that it has long been proven that the green glass allows light to filter into the beer, which chemically changes the makeup of the brew. I have actually had a Grolsch on tap, and it is a completely different story! The beer is much more flavorful and hoppy, and it doesn't have the skunky flavor of a beer gone sour.

Grolsch is an old beer, originally dating back to 1615. Innovative even back then, they claim to be the first brewery to incorporate a second type of hop into their brewing process when Peter Cuyper tried it out in 1676. This addition supposedly began the process of hopping for aroma, and hopping for taste. 1897 then introduced the now world-famous bottle, which was originally only green due to the lack of colored glass, and was changed to brown in the early 1900s.

If you are going to try this beer, I highly suggest trying it either straight from the tap, or find a pre-millennium bottle!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Smuttynose Summer Weizen Ale

The pictures from the Smuttynose bottles never cease to crack me up...funny pictures from bygone days give this brewery a certain allure that makes me want to try everything they have.

This wheat ale is also brewed with barley malts and chamomile flowers, giving it a very distinct taste. The brew is a clear, light-yellow color with a thin, fizzy head. Its very thin mouthfeel is deceivingly flavorful and aromatic. You can both smell and taste the flowers, which give an almost honeysuckle vibe to the beer.

Very sweet and citrusy, this brew is lightly hopped just to balance the other flavors and uses a Belgian strain of yeast. The overall result is a slightly tangy, sweet and refreshing beer that is perfect for warm weather!

Magic Hat Summer '10 Odd Notion

Always the most intriguing of the stuff that comes out of Magic Hat, I find myself constantly looking forward to the new Odd Notion...

This Summer's edition is a real-life "ginger ale". The clear, pale-yellow brew smells bready and light, with an airy two-finger head of tiny bubbles. The beer is brewed with ginger root and is very sharp and refreshing. It actually reminds me a little of a citrusy tea, with a bit tangyness and lemon flavors from the ginger. I believe this beer would pair extraordinarily well with Asian cuisine, especially spicy Szechaun or Hibachi.

This beer's crispness and tang is perfect for summer, but I don't know if I could handle more than 1-2 of these...As they say on the website though, it will definitely get to the "root" of your thirst!

Magic Hat IPA On Tour - Blind Faith

So, Magic Hat just put out its Summer Scene mix pack, and as part of it they have decided to present a year-long "IPA on Tour" - where they will release a new IPA each quarter.

This first addition, called Blind Faith, is a golden apricot color with a big, off-white head. The intense smell is immediately floral and grassy. The brew is very well balanced with some dark malts, which adds some sweet with the bitter. The ABV sits at a reasonable 6.2% and the brew leaves some heavy lacing on the glass with its medium-body.

It is definitely crisp, but I expect a good IPA to be a hoppy monster. With that being said, I found this beer to be good, but I certainly can't call it incredible. Hopefully the Fall's IPA on Tour will be a smash hit!

Gordon-Biersch SommerBrau

Gordon-Biersch's SommerBrau is a Kolsch-styled beer, literally meaning "beer from Cologne, Germany".

This light-yellow colored, clear brew has a thin head of tiny bubbles. It smells of grassy hops and pale, biscuity malt. This is actually my favorite of the GB brews I have tried so is brewed with 80% pale-malted barley, and 20% malted wheat.

The addition of the wheat adds light overtones and flavoring, which are almost certainly enhanced with some added citrus. The finish is pure hop flavor, adding some crispness that makes this beer very refreshing to drink. Awesome for a barbecue or for lounging by the pool!

Gordon-Biersch WinterBock

Another strong, dark, sweet brew from GB...

This WinterBock is a dark brown, heavily malted double bock brewed in the Bavarian style that monks perfected to help them make it through long fasts. The full-bodied beer is heavy in malt and nutritional content, not to mention a hefty 7.5% ABV, to help them feel full and provide sustenance.

The beer is very creamy and smooth in texture, with caramel sweetness. It produces a tan frothy head about two fingers high. The four different types of malt utilized give the beer a bready, biscuity flavor, but the most noticeable attribute to the brew is the strong warming sensation you get as it goes down. There is a small, hoppy aroma and taste in the finish, but other than that the malt presence is foremost. Good, strong brew from a consistently good brewer in San Jose, California!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gordon-Biersch Marzen Amber

Marzen beer is the traditional style that has been served during Oktoberfest each year since 1868, when King Ludwig I and Maria Theresa of Spain were married and started the annual festival. This beer is historically brewed in March each year and lagered in cellars until the celebration in October.

Just like the old recipe of this beer, Gordon-Biersch's Marzen Amber is very heavy on the malt...The beer was brewed very dark and strong to survive the long months in unrefrigerated cellars. The heavy emphasis on roasted and caramelized malt gives the brew a bittersweet, nutty taste - I liken it to lightly brewed, hazelnut or amaretto flavored coffee. It is a full-bodied brew, and is quite filling. There is very little hop flavoring, so the beer is grossly slanted towards the malts. I tend to enjoy a more hoppy brew, but this beer was good, and different which I can appreciate. Definitely best for colder weather!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Genesee Cream Ale

Man, the fact that Genesee Cream Ale can live up to its website is quite a testament to this brew! An All-American, Baseball and Apple Pie type of story line with a blistering blues lead-in, this brewery supports local musicians and has recipes for cooking with its beer.

The brew's catchphrase is pure genius: "While other beers went light and low-carb and metrosexual, Genesee Cream Ale bided its time and waited for the world to come to its senses again."

The golden, frothy brew is a cross between an ale and a lager. The beer is warm-fermented, then krausened (fresh fermented wort is added) right before it is cellared for "lagering". This gives the beer a very unique, full flavor while still retaining the smoothness of a lager. This is a process that many other brewers should look into, as it allows a thinner, paler beer to have extremely robust flavor characteristics.

Once nicknamed, "The Male Ale", this brew is a World Beer Cup gold medal winner. It certainly has my vote!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Foster's Premium Ale

Trying to pick a winner in the battle between a Foster's Lager and a Foster's Premium Ale (both in an oil can, of course) would be like trying to pick a winner in a guitar duel between Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. They are both incredible, and are both considered "Bluesmen", but the styles are vastly different.

The copper colored brew from the green can stole my heart the minute I saw it...Its big foamy head beckoned for me to leave my once beloved blue monster to sip from a "classier" beer. The caramel maltiness is a bit sweeter and more complex, and has a slightly higher alcohol content.

From time to time I cheat and go back to ole' blue, but in a perfect world it is a "menage a trois" with them both...

Foster's Lager

With probably the coolest beer commercials in the past decade, Foster's exploded into a household name in the early naught's...Then with the introduction of its 25.4 "oil can" in the US, everyone began to learn "how to speak Australian."

One of my fondest memories of this brew is laying by the lazy river at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas...the hotel had a short-lived promotion of $6 buckets of 5 beers; you could get Coronas, the domestic standards or Foster's - in the oil can. Obviously for the same price as the other 12 oz bottles, you could get more than twice the brew for the same moolah. That day began my love affair for this brew.

In one of the few times I have poured this brew into a glass, you can notice that it is a bright golden straw color. It is highly carbonated and produces a thin head of white bubbles that stay with you for the duration of the glass. It is bitter in taste, but incredibly crisp. The only downside is that you get the metallic taste of the can, but in something so big it encourages me to drink faster before it warms up. This leads to unparalleled sessions - and a perfect poolside buzz.