Saturday, February 26, 2011

Samuel Adams – Noble Pils and Latitude 48 IPA

Samuel Adams beers are actually produced by the Boston Beer Co., which is one of the biggest craft brewers in America.  The Homebrewer’s Association changed the definition of a craft brewer by increasing the number of barrels produced so the Boston Beer Co. would not lose the classification of craft brewer. 

Samuel Adam’s Latitude 48 IPA has 6% ABV and pours nice golden amber with two finger head that fits perfectly in a shaker pint glass.  The website describes Latitude 48 IPA as “Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA is a unique IPA brewed with a select blend of hops from top German, English, and American growing regions all located close to the 48th latitude within the “hop belt” of the Northern Hemisphere.  The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character.  The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®*, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma.  The hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.”  This is not a bad beer, not my favorite IPA, as I prefer the hoppier West Coast styles.

Nobel Pils has a 4.9% ABV and pours gold with a nice billowy head in a Pilsner glass.  The name comes from the use of the 5 Noble hops (Hallertau, Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter, Saaz, and Hersbrucker Noble hops) used to brew this lager.  The website description of Noble Pils is “Noble Pils is brewed with all 5 Noble hops for a distinct hop character and fresh taste.  Deep golden in color with a citrusy hop aroma, Samuel Adams Noble Pils is a traditional Bohemian Pilsner.  The honeyed malt character from traditional Bohemian malt is balanced by delicate yet pronounced citrus, floral, and piney notes from the Noble hops.”  This is a good Pilsner, but again, my preference is from Colorado with Avery’s Joe’s Pilsner, Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner, and Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yellow Pils.
I appreciate what the Boston Beer Co. has done for craft beer, but I am not a big fan of Samuel Adams beers.  I know Boston Beer Co. is the biggest craft brewer in America, but there is just something in the taste that does not resonate with my palette (yeast, water, hops??)  I think their specialty beers are the best and I recently tried New World Tripel, which is excellent.

Vacation - Seattle and Pacific NW Beers

My wife and I went to Seattle over the weekend of 19th and 20th for a wedding and I had the opportunity to try to tasty beers.  The three highlights were Pike Brewing Co.’s Old Bawdy Barleywine, Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Double Black IPA, and Deschutes Black Butte Porter. 

During the flight, I started the vacation with a Blue Moon Belgian White (5.4% ABV).  On Thursday evening we attended the rehearsal dinner at Ray’s Boathouse and I had a Maritime Imperial Pale Ale (7.5% ABV), Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (5.0% ABV & 40 IBU), Widmer Heffeweizen (4.9% ABV & 30 IBU) and Deschutes Black Butte Porter (5.2% ABV & 30 IBU).  We later went out to Bel Mar in Ballard and I had a Firestone Walker Double Barrel Pale Ale (5.0% ABV).  These were all tasty beers and the standout was Black Butte Porter with desert – an excellent pairing.

On Friday, we met one of Lori’s previous co-workers at Cutter’s and I had Maritime Jolly Roger Christmas Ale and a Mac& Jack’s African Amber that paired nicely with a lunch of fish and chips. Later, I went to the local QFC and picked up Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Double Black IPA (8.5% ABV & 70 IBU).  I had this at the Friday evening party and it is excellent.  If you want to try a Cascadian / Black IPA this is a great one to try, if you can find it.

On Saturday, I tried the Pike Old Bawdy 2008 (10% ABV & 90 IBU) in the afternoon and this is a great beer that I enjoyed.  Later that evening, we met up with George & Mary Lou, and Michael at Wilde Rover in Kirkland for some good Irish food & drink and billiards.  I had a Guinness Stout (4.2% ABV), Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale (4.5% ABV) with a dinner of corned beef and cabbage, New Castle Brown Ale (4.7% ABV), and Kilkenny Irish Red Ale (4.3% ABV).  We had an excellent time and George and I actually won a few matches of pool.  At dinner, I gave George a bottle of Avery Hog Heaven and Michael a bottle of Avery The Reverend.  George replied that he tried and really liked Hog Heaven.

On Sunday, we meet Ben (one of Lori’s former students) at Cutters and I had a NW flight of Manny’s Pale Ale (5.5% ABV & 37 IBU), Diamond Knot Winter Warmer (7.7% ABV & 60 IBU) and Elysian Bifrost (7.5% ABV & 55 IBU).  Flights are a great way to sample different beers and these were approximately 4 – 5 oz. servings for the price of a normal pint.  At the reception that evening I tried Widmer Broken Halo IPA (6.0% ABV & 45 IBU) that was excellent with dinner.

On Monday, Lori and I went to my favorite lunch spot in Bellevue, the King and I.  I ordered Phad Thai Tofu and enjoyed a Pyramid Heffeweizen (5.2% ABV & 18 IBU).  I love Phad Thai and this is one spot to get great Thai food.  That evening, we met friends at Paulo’s in Kent and I had a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (5.0% ABV & 40 IBU) with ravioli in a walnut cream sauce and this was excellent.

We returned to Denver on Tuesday and I took Lori, Jonathan and Donna (Lori’s mom) to NoNo’s and I had an Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager (4.2% ABV & 13 IBU) and a Bridgeport Ropewalk Amber (5.6% ABV) with a dinner of Cajun meatloaf.  This was a nice pairing and it is too bad this beer is no longer being brewed at Bridgeport.

The trip to Seattle was excellent and it was great to see old friends and enjoy good food and drink.  There are some excellent beers in Seattle and the Pacific NW and I was able to do a quick tour of Pike Brewing Co.  If you are in Seattle downtown, stop by Pike – they have a great selection and you can obtain many “goodies” to go. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2011

An American-style Barleywine has large quantities of malt and hops in comparison to English-style Barleywine.  I enjoy the larger beers with malt-emphasis and with hop-emphasis and Barleywine is a great mixture of both – this is a style that is one of my favorites.  Sierra Nevada produces an annual Barley Wine at the first part of the year named Bigfoot.  Bigfoot has an ABV of 9.6% and an IBU of 90.  This one pours a cloudy dark reddish tan with a nice head that takes some time to recede.  I like to allow Barley Wine to warm as this style should be enjoyed at 50 – 55 degrees.  This would be a great beer to cellar and I plan to purchase some more for storage.  The aroma is excellent and filled with malt sweetness – candy like.  Taste is excellent with caramel / toffee and a chocolate undertone, then finishing with a nice balanced bitterness from the hops.  It is a bit hot from the alcohol and hops and I known this will be even better after a couple of years of cellaring.  This is a nice one and I understand why Bigfoot has won a number of awards.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Odell - Saboteur

Saboteur from Odell Brewing that is based in Ft. Collins, CO, made Draft Magazine’s “25 Beers of the Year”.  I had been looking for Saboteur for some time as a few of the larger stores were out of it.  I stopped by a smaller carry-out and they had six bottles left.  Saboteur is a Speciality Ale that does not fall into any distinct style.  The base style is an English-style Brown Ale that Odell then ages in oak barrels previously used for the Woodcut Series, and then injects in brettanomyces yeast for a secondary fermentation.  Brettanomyces is the bane of wineries and they go to great extremes to insure brettanomyces never is allowed in.  However, many craft brewers have embraced brettanomyces as it transforms beer into a funky aroma and taste experience.  This one pours a cloudy brown with a nice one-finger head that quickly recedes.  This is a sipping beer at 10% ABV, with taste of brown ale, tartness from the brettanomyces, vanilla and hints of cherries.  Some note a taste of pineapple, but I did not pick this up.  Odell describes Saboteur as "Our brewer's created an unpretentious, yet sophisticated brown ale.  They they plotted, and dosed this full-bodied ale with brettanomyces, the ultimate adversary of wineries.  Embracing this vitner's nemesis resulted in a complex and wonderfully drinkable beer.  Intense earthy undertones, and notes of vanilla and pineapple come together with a sour silhouette.  Aged in American oak barrels."  I will need to head back to see if any are left.  I would like to cellar a couple of bottles for special occasions and this one should cellar very nicely.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stone IPA

Stone Brewing in Escondido, CA is known for pushing the boundaries and they have a great product line-up.  I have tried a number of beers from Stone and purchased a 6er of IPA.  Stone IPA has an ABV of 6.9% with an IBU of 77.  This one pours a gold / light orange and has a nice head.  There is a nice hop aroma and bitterness in the taste.  The hops are from the NW and this has a nice citrus aroma and grapefruit taste.  Stone describes their IPA as “An "India Pale Ale" by definition is highly hopped and high in alcohol - you'll find our Stone India Pale Ale to be true to style with a huge hop aroma, flavor and bitterness throughout. If you're a hop-head like us, then you'll love our Stone India Pale Ale! Medium malt character with a heavy dose of over the top hops! Generous "dry hopping" gives this beer its abundant hop aroma and crisp hop flavor. There are a number of good craft brewers and there are a few great ones.  Stone is one of the great ones.  The next time I am in San Diego, I will stop by the Stone Bistro to sample the excellent beer and the wonderful food.  I have liked everything from Stone that I have sampled.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Great Divide - Belgica

Belgica, a Belgian-Style IPA, from Great Divide has an ABV of 7.2%.  This one pours a crystal clear gold and has a nice fluffy head that takes some time to recede.  Be careful pouring as you can pour a large head on this.  The carbonation is incredible and I think it bubbled the entire time in the glass.  The words on the label are “Singular” and “Ebullient”, which means boiling or agitated (for liquid or matter) or cheerful and full of energy.  I can see with the carbonation, head, and taste where both definitions fit the descriptors.  Great Divide describes Belgica as “The Roman name for the Low Counties - is a marriage of the best in American and Belgian brewing traditions. Belgian pilsner malt, a generous amount of American and European hops and a unique Belgian yeast strain combine to give Belgica big notes of citrus and spice, creating a lively concoction perfect for spring in the Rockies - or the Ardennes.”  This is a nice beer and I can taste the Belgian influence as the Belgian yeast strain provides a “Belgian” taste to the beer.  This is a drinkable beer with a very low level of bitterness, but the bitterness is there and makes is distinct and different from a Belgian Golden Ale.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Divide - Titan and Hades

Great Divide’s Titan is an India Pale Ale with an ABV of 7.1% and is a very good IPA.  I am not sure if this is the flagship brew from Great Divide, but it has to be one of the top sellers.  It pours a golden amber with a large and nice head.  This one has a nice hop aroma of pine and citrus and is nicely balanced for my palate.  I take in the nice malt sweetness and then have a balance with the bitterness of the hops.  Great Divide describes Titan as a “big, aggressively hopped India Pale Ale brewed for hop disciples. It starts out with piney hop aromas and citrus hop flavors, and finishes with a nice rich, malty sweetness that is balanced with crisp hop bitterness.”  The descriptors on the label are “Assertive” and “Aromatic” and if you want to know what to expect with a beer from Great Divide, just look at the label.  I appreciate the accurate description’s Great Divide provides on the label of their products. 
Hades from Great Divide is a Belgian-Style Ale with an ABV of 7.8%.  This one pours a clear gold / straw color that reminds me of the color of Pilsner.  This is another nice beer from Great Divide and you can definitely taste the Belgian yeast in this Belgian inspired beer.  The label descriptors are “Golden” and “Spirited” and Hades has a good balance with a little more hops than classic Belgian ale.  The description of Hades is “a Belgian-Style golden ale brewed with a rare Belgian yeast strain that gives a complex spicy flavor and aroma. Noticeable hops and medium malt character make it a very well balanced, crisp ale.”  I am very much enjoying my samplings from Great Divide. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

German Lagers and Wild Raspberry Ale

Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel has an ABV of 5% and pours a nice dark tan with a head that quickly recedes.  This was poured in a Bavarian-sytle Pilsner glass.  Ayinger is a brewer in Bavaria and is close to Munich.  Altbairisch Dunkel translates to "Old Bavarian Dark Beer." [and] This is the most traditional style of beer in Bavaria.”  I enjoyed with roasted pork tenderloin, roasted potato, and a salad.  This is a great beer to have with food and it paired nice with the pork and potatoes.  I think it would go great with sausage and any German food for that matter.  While I typically pick ales, I wanted to sample some German lagers.  Lagers have a different taste profile compared to the ales and I am sure it is due to the different yeast used in the brewing process.  The German beers I sampled also were lightly hopped, with just enough to balance the sweetness of the malt.

Paulaner is based in Munchen, Germany and Salvator is a Doppelbock with an ABV of 7.9%.  This is a nice beer that pours an orange / tan with a head that quickly recedes.  This was poured in a Bavarian-sytle Pilsner glass.  The taste emphasis is malt and with hints of dark fruit, chocolate, and smoke.  Paulaner Salvator is known as the beer that represents Doppelbock I enjoyed it.  Paulaner’s website describes Salvator as “The Paulaner monks used to drink Salvator as a food substitute during Lent and since beer is “liquid bread” it makes since the monks would brew and drink Salvator during Lent.

Great Divide’s Wild Raspberry Ale has an ABV of 5.6% and is a raspberry infused ale.  I am not a big fan of fruit beer, but I appreciate Great Divide making this beer for people who do enjoy fruit beers.  I poured this into a no-nick pint glass and it was clear with a pink hue, which has to be attributed to the black and red raspberries used in this beer.  It has a nice head and you can easily pick up raspberry in the aroma.  Great Divide uses descriptors of “Flavorful” and “Refreshing” on the label and the website states, “Wild Raspberry Ale is a unique, thirst-quenching ale fermented with real red and black raspberries. Its balance of malt and fruit flavors make it a beer lover’s fruit beer.”  This beer has won a few awards and I think it would compliment a chocolate desert with raspberry sauce nicely.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Great Divide - Denver Pale Ale

Denver Pale Ale is Great Divide Brewing Company's English-Style Pale Ale and has an ABV of 5.4% and an unknown IBU.  This one pours a crystal clear light amber / gold with great carbonation and wonderful effervescent bubbles visible in the no-nick pint glass.  I know these are traditional served in a shaker pint, but I prefer the no-nick pint glass.  DPA has a very nice aroma and nice malt taste with low bitterness as with the English-Style vs. American-Style Pale Ale.  This is beer is very quaffable and with the lower ABV, I would categorize this as a session beer.  Great Divide describes DPA as “a world-renowned, classic pale ale with a malty middle and an equally hearty complement of hop aroma, flavor and bitterness.  The words “Brilliant” and “Balanced” are on the sides of the label and I like how Great Divide uses these descriptors on each of their beers.  It gives the buyer an idea of what they are buying because Great Divide is very accurate with these descriptors.  Great Divide is another excellent brewer in Colorado.  This beer along with many others has won a number of awards over the years, and I look forward to sampling more from Great Divide.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sierra Nevada - Hoptimum

Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum is a “whole cone” Imperial IPA with an ABV of 10.4% and an IBU of 100.  I knew I would be in for a “hop-bomb” and I was looking forward to it.  This one poured a beautiful light amber with a nice head.  Be careful as you pour because it is very easy to pour a huge head with this beer.  Hoptimum is crystal clear when holding up to a light with bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass - very nice eye appeal.  Aroma is excellent with nice grapefruit and pine/resin.  The taste was hop-forward, but I thought it was a nice balance and the grapefruit / tropical fruit notes had a very nice dry finish.  Sierra Nevada’s website describes “Hoptimum as “A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas. Resinous "new-school" and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar, and tropical fruit—all culminating in a dry and lasting finish.”  This is a great beer and if you like IPAs and consider yourself a “hop-head”, go buy this limited run.  I think that Sierra Nevada should add this to their year-round collection.