30 September 2009

Beer Review, Amber Tease

Schmohz Amber Tease (bottle)
Grand Rapids, MI
5.3% ABV

This is a brewery that is clearly new to bottling. Cheap six-pack holders with a label stuck on, inexpensive bottle labels. I say we cut them a bit of slack.

Appearance: Reddish-orange body, thin pink-white head that dissipates quickly. Hazy, no effervescence. 3.0/5

Smell: Sweet with that classic "amber" aroma, but with a slight tinge of sourness. Notes of apples. 3.0/5

Taste: More complexity here. A nice bready malt backbone with a sweet (but still tarty/sour) finish and a very dry aftertaste. No hops to balance. Very slight yeastiness as the beer warms. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, no significant carbonation, no hops. 4.0/5

Drinkability: I can't tell if the sourness here is intentional or a flaw in the brewing/shipping process. Their website claims that their beer is unpasteurized, so it's possible that infection set in between the bottling process and the store, but given the relatively minor distances and times involved this can't be good for the average consumer finding this beer on the shelf. The sourness isn't unpleasant, but it is unexpected and not quite true-to-style, but I'm cutting the brewery a bit of slack since I like to root for the little guy. 4.0/5

(Cute label, though -- almost worth buying just for the artwork.)

Overall: 3.6/5

28 September 2009

Beer Review, Terrapin India Brown Ale

Terrapin India Brown Ale (bottle)
Athens, GA
6.2% ABV

Appearance: Dark brown hazy body, thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Translucent. 4.0/5

Smell: Surprisingly hoppy, a nice crisp bitterness over a nutty malt backbone. Dark and roasty. Very interesting. 4.5/5

Taste: A nice balance of malt and hops. Sweet nutty flavors with a delicate hop bite to finish it off. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, high hops, and a nice carbonation. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Quite drinkable. If this India Brown Ale concept takes off, I will for one be a very happy man. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.1/5

27 September 2009

Beer Review, Stoudt's Oktoberfest

Stoudt's Oktoberfest (bottle)
Adamstown, PA
5.0% ABV

Appearance: Yellow-orange, transparent, with a thin white head that sticks around. Nice. 4.0/5

Smell: Sweet, malty, slightly nutty. Hints of yeast. 3.5/5

Taste: Syrupy sweetness up front with a bitter back-end. Harsh. Slightly cloying. Hints of yeast. Leaves a dry aftertaste. Disappointing. 2.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thin, with somewhat heavy carbonation. 3.0/5

Drinkability: A disappointing example of the style. I usually enjoy Stoudt's, but this Oktoberfest isn't one of my favorites. 2.5/5

Overall: 3.05/5

26 September 2009

Beer Review, Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (bottle)
Milton, DE
7.0% ABV

Appearance: Orange body, completely transparent, no head at all. No effervescence. 3.5/5

Smell: Strong with pumpkin, slightly sweet, hints of spices. Notes of citrus. Inviting. 4.0/5

Taste: Hmm... surprisingly yeasty up front, sweet pumpkin in the middle, with a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Less pumpkin than expected. Slightly hoppy on the finish. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, slightly chewy. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Very mild pumpkin ale, the alcohol is high but barely apparent. Very drinkable. One of the better pumpkin ales. 4.5/5

Overall: 3.95/5

18 September 2009

Beer Review, New Holland Ichabod Ale

New Holland Ichabod Ale (bottle)
Holland, MI
5.5% ABV

Appearance: Very clear, orange/red, with a thin white head that sticks around. Slight lacing. Very slight effervescence. 3.0/5

Smell: Pumpkin. Lots of pumpkin. Also crisp spices, maybe some cinnamon, hints of cloves. Inviting. 4.0/5

Taste: Mmm... very sweet. Pumpkin is definitely there, but much less pronounced than expected. A nice malt backbone and a finish of coriander and cloves round out this beer. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, slightly chewy. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Pumpkin beers tend to not be very exciting, but this one is quite nice. Can't wait to have more when it gets a little cooler outside. 3.5/5

Overall: 3.75/5

17 September 2009

Beer Review, Point Oktoberfest

Point Oktoberfest (bottle)
Stevens Point, WI
5.15% ABV

Appearance: Transparent, orange/red, with thin white head that dissipates quickly. 3.5/5

Smell: Sweet, malty, slightly nutty. 3.0/5

Taste: Rich, heavy with malt, strongly yeasty. Slightly dry on the finish. Actually quite good. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, no particular hoppiness or carbonation. Good, clean. 4.0/5

Drinkability: A nice Oktoberfest. Definitely worth a try for fans of the style. 4.0/5

Overall: 3.7/5

16 September 2009

Beer Review, R.J. King Wingwalker Amber Ale

R. J. King Wingwalker Amber Ale (bottle)
Rochester, NY
5.7% ABV

Appearance: Transparent orangeish red body, white soapscum head. Very slight effervescence. 2.5/5

Smell: Malty. Corny. Somewhat sweet. Pretty much what an amber is supposed to taste like, but I get the distinct impression of adjuncts used here... 3.0/5

Taste: Sweet on front, some fruity apple flavors. Slightly cloying on the finish and dry on the aftertaste. A bit sweet for my taste, but not terrible. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thin body, but it does coat the palate. Low carbonation. 3.0/5

Drinkability: This beer has a lackluster presentation, but is really fairly drinkable. This is the last of a six-pack I bought in Chicago, and I remember drinking the first five fairly quickly. I was probably just drinking them straight from the bottle... 3.5/5

Overall: 3.15/5

15 September 2009

A Modernizing of a TV Show I Can Live With

Yeah, sure, we've got new versions of 90210 and Melrose Place and all the rest... but I say the times are just right for a new version of an old TV show from the eighties and nineties that might actually be good.

Murphy Brown. I watched this show when I was a kid and remember finding it funny even when I didn't know why. This episode was linked by driftglass earlier today, and it's amazing how much of it still holds up. I'd love to see NBC pair a new version of this with The Office and 30 Rock.

(If you don't want to watch the whole video, just skip to the last eight minutes or so for a classic bit with Wallace Shawn.)

13 September 2009

Beer Review, Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09

Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09 (bottle)
San Diego, CA
8.9% ABV

Appearance: Black body, very thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Body is completely opaque and allows no light through. Head should be much greater for a Belgian-style ale. 3.5/5

Smell: Rich chocolate backbone, some spices (coriander?) on top. Notes of chocolate-covered cherries, sweet, inviting. Some alcohol astringency. 4.0/5

Taste: Alcohol astringency is very present in the flavor, particularly in the finish. Otherwise strong flavors of chocolate malt, with a nice bitterness and some vanilla-like spicy undertones. Finish is strongly of vanilla. No tartness present at all, which leads me to suspect that an American-style yeast was used. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, luxurious. Low carbonation, mild hops. Slightly chewy. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Very nice beer, although perhaps slightly misclassified as a Belgian-style. It'd be interesting to see how it ages (which is, after all, the point). 4.0/5

Overall: 4.1/5

12 September 2009

Beer Review, Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA (bottle)
Boston, MA
9.3% ABV

Appearance: Orange, hazy, thick with carbonation. Thin but persistent white head. 4.5/5

Smell: Crisp hops, some citrus. Notes of orange and grapefruit. 4.0/5

Taste: Hoppy, hugely alcoholic, slightly yeasty on the finish. Slightly cloying with oranges. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, coats the palate. Moderate-to-heavy carbonation, heavy hops. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Harpoon seems to be the kings of making the "eh" beer for me. This isn't terrible -- it isn't even bad -- but it's just "eh." I like it fine, worth a try, yadda yadda, but there are much more impressive DIPAs out there. 3.5/5

Overall: 3.85/5

10 September 2009

Science is Real

I may just have to buy the new They Might Be Giants album.

Catchy, isn't it?

Beer Review, Weihenstephaner Vitus

Weihenstephaner Vitus (bottle)
Freising, Germany
7.7% ABV

Appearance: Yellow-orange body, very thick white foamy head. Hazy, with some effervescence. Lighter than expected. 4.0/5

Smell: Strong yeasty citrus up-front. Some hints of malt and grains buried beneath. 4.0/5

Taste: This is fascinating. At first this tastes like a standard hefe, with a citrus yeastiness and a sweet aftertaste, but very quickly the beer changes character, leaving a maltier and roastier aftertaste. Delicious. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, some chewiness due to yeast, about as expected. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Quite enjoyable. Weihenstephaner's clearly been doing this a while... 4.5/5

Overall: 4.25/5

08 September 2009

Beer Review, Unibroue 15

Unibroue 15 (bottle)
Chambly, Quebec, Canada
10% ABV

Appearance: Orange/yellow body, thin white head that dissipates quickly. Hazy to the point of opacity. 4.0/5

Smell: Sweet, tarty, hints of raisins, grapefruit, almost jammy. Very interesting. 4.0/5

Taste: Strong with Belgian yeast. Again, very tarty. A nice alcohol burn on the way down, but without astringency, almost more like a liqueur than a beer. Smooth. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, low carbonation, low hops. Coats the palate, though. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Definitely worth a try if you can find it. Soon I'll try the 17. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.2/5

07 September 2009

Beer Review, Stone Smoked Porter

Stone Smoked Porter (bottle)
San Diego, CA
5.9% ABV

Appearance: An aggressive pour gives a reddish-black body, slightly translucent, with a very thick foamy brown head. Significant lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Malty, heavy with grains and bread, chocolate. Very highly aromatic, an amazing scent. Gotta give it full points. 5.0/5

Taste: Amazingly well-executed porter. Strong notes of coffee and chocolate, with a rich velvety dry finish. And yes, you can taste the smoke. Somewhat sweet on the aftertaste, hints of dried fruits. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate. Again, velvety, low carbonation, mild hops. Coats the palate well. 4.5/5

Drinkability: Another amazing winner from Stone. I didn't expect to like this one as much as I do. 4.5/5

Overall: 4.6/5

06 September 2009

Beer Review, Round Barn Oak-Aged IPA

Round Barn Oak-Aged IPA (bottle)
Baroda, MI
Unknown ABV

Appearance: Somewhat hazy yellow-orange body, thin white head that leaves some foam on the sides of the glass. 4.0/5

Smell: Citrusy, slightly hoppy. Seems sweet and well-balanced from the nose. Somewhat dry. 4.0/5

Taste: Sweet on the up-front, with a dry hoppy middle, and whoa! here comes the oak on the finish. Strongly woody aftertaste, very dry, but somehow it works together with the rest of the beer. The oak is present but not quite overwhelming. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, no real carbonation, hops a little lower than expected. 4.0/5

Drinkability: This would be more of an occasional treat for me. It's a weird idea, an oak-aged IPA, but the execution makes good on the promise. Worth a try for any fan of IPAs, and those who are also a fan of oaked beers will find a nice treat. 3.5/5

Overall: 3.95/5

05 September 2009

Beer Review, Lost Coast Eightball Stout

Lost Coast Eightball Stout (12 oz bottle)
Eureka, CA
6.3% ABV

Appearance: Dark black, opaque, slight reddish tinge to the bottom, thin brown head that dissipates quickly. 4.0/5

Smell: Sweet, malty, hints of raisins and chocolate. Tartier than expected. 4.0/5

Taste: Sweet, slightly astringent. Some tartiness. Strong flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. Tastes more like a porter than a stout. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Reasonable thick, coats the palate nicely. 4.0/5

Drinkability: This is a good beer, but feels slightly misclassified. Enjoyable, but a bit too sweet and tarty for my taste. 3.5/5

Overall: 3.75/5

04 September 2009

Beer Review, Highland Black Mountain Bitter

Highland Black Mountain Bitter
Asheville, NC
Unknown ABV

Appearance: Very clear, slightly yellow body. No effervescence. Soapscum on top is the whole of the head. Disappointing. 2.5/5

Smell: Bitter, dry, slightly hoppy, with a malt backbone. Very much like a standard English bitter. 3.5/5

Taste: Very clean, almost tasteless. Notes of malt, strong aftertaste of corn. 3.0/5

Mouthfeel: Thin, low carbonation, no particular hop presence. Bog-standard for a bitter. 3.5/5

Drinkability: Lacks character. It's drinkable, but it's just not all that great. 2.5/5

Overall: 3.0/5

03 September 2009

Beer Review, Boont ESB

Anderson Valley Boont ESB
Boonville, CA
6.8% ABV

Appearance: Hazy orange-red with a thick foamy white head that leaves significant lacing. Very nice for the style, very engaging. 4.5/5

Smell: Rich, malty, bitter, grainy, with a hint of hops. Notes of caramel. 4.0/5

Taste: Somewhat sweet, notes of caramel, rich with grainy malt. Yeasty on the finish. Almost a primer on what a good American-made ESB can taste like. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, low on carbonation, very moderate hops. Somewhat chewy. 4.0/5

Drinkability: This is an amazingly drinkable ESB, a very pleasant surprise. Worth a purchase for fans of the style. 4.5/5

Overall: 4.15/5

02 September 2009

Beer Review, Witkap-Pater Abbey Singel Ale

Witkap-Pater Abbey Singel Ale
Ninove, Belgium
6.0% ABV

Appearance: Very aggressive out of the bottle, a little too aggressive. Slightly hazy whitish-yellow body with a very thick foamy white head that leaves significant lacing. Head is way too thick due to the aggression of the beer. 3.5/5

Smell: Sweet, with a clear Belgian "funk." Hints of banana. 4.0/5

Taste: Very yeasty, very tart, hints of citrus and a touch of cloves. Tasted a bit like a witbier, a very slight bit of oranges and coriander here. Interesting. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, slightly chewy. Low carbonation, very low hops. 3.5/5

Drinkability: Not a bad Belgian Pale. I could see putting these away quite handily if I ever get to Belgium and this sort of thing is widely available. 4.0/5

Overall: 3.85/5

01 September 2009

Beer Review, Longshot Traditional Bock

Samuel Adams Longshot Traditional Bock
Boston, MA
6.8% ABV

Appearance: Transparent brown body, one-finger foamy khaki-colored head. No effervescence. 4.0/5

Smell: Nutty, sweet, more like a brown ale than a bock. Some coffee and hoppy notes buried deep down. 3.5/5

Taste: Very sweet, syrupy, a bit cloying. Finish is tarty and nutty. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Very thick, again syrupy. Carbonation heavier than expected. 4.0/5

Drinkability: This is a very good beer, but it definitely tastes like someone's homebrew. Good, worthy of inclusion, but not spectacular. 4.0/5

Overall: 3.7/5