Saturday, April 30, 2011

DAB Original, Boont Amber Ale and Alaskan White

Dortmunder – DAB – Export

Dortmunder or DAB Export (5.0% ABV) is a German Lager and it is packaged in a green bottle.  Now a short rant – I do now understand why brewers bottle a product in a container that is affected by sunlight.  The amber bottle or the can is the best packaging for beer because these two containers prevent the beer from being ruined by exposure to sunlight.  Quick rule of thumb – if it is not in an amber bottle or a can – don’t buy it.  Dortmunder pours gold with a two finger head and good carbonation.  I would compare this beer to an American marcro brewery and I was not impressed.  I recommend avoiding this one.

Anderson Valley – Boont Amber Ale

Boont Amber Ale (5.8% ABV and 15 IBU) is an American amber ale.  Boot pours cloudy amber with a vigorous head and I had to let it settle a couple of times while pouring.  I thought this beer was much hoppier than it is when I first tasted it.  This amber ale is better when it warms a bit and I thought it tasted more balanced at the end of the glass than at the start.  This is an unfiltered and is not pasteurized, so keep it cold until you are ready to enjoy.  The website recommends it should be served between 40 – 45 and I agree that the flavor is much better at this temperature that right out of the fridge.

Alaskan – White

Alaskan White (5.3% ABV and 15 IBU) is a Belgian-style Wit beer and I enjoy this style.  White pours gold with a large head – be careful when pouring.  White is a drinkable beer and I could pick up hints of coriander and bitter orange.  Both of these and probably grains of paradise are used in the brewing of this beer.  Using spices during the brewing process are part of the Belgian Wit history.  Another good beer from Alaskan Brewing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sierra Nevada - Kellerweis and Ovila

Kellerweis (4.8% ABV and 15 IBU) is a Hefeweizen from Sierra Nevada and pours gold with a frothy head.  Make sure to leave some beer in the bottle and swirl it to get all the yeast that is on the bottom.  Kellerweis is a very tasty hefeweizen and Sierra Nevada actually uses open fermentation on this beer.  If you are looking for a drinkable beer that would be good on a summer day, Kellerweis should be on your list.

Next up was Ovila (7.5% ABV) and is a Dubbel.  Ovila is a special release from Sierra Nevada and some of the proceeds go to the Abbey of New Clairvaux.  There is a lot of carbonation on this corked and caged bottle and it will give a nice little pop.  Ovila pours copper with a frothy head and has an aroma of dark fruit and cloves.  This is a tasty beer and one can pick up the dark fruit, dark malt sweetness, and a Belgian taste from the yeast used in brewing this beer.  I really appreciate Sierra Nevada trying new and different things and this is a very good beer.  There will be two additional Ovila releases this year, a Saison and a Quad.  I will purchase these and I look forward to sampling these beers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Upslope - Pale Ale and Twisted Pine - Hoppy Boy

Upslope – Pale Ale
Upslope is a start-up brewery based in Boulder and I have tried their IPA and brown ale.  Currently, one more is available in cans and that is the Pale Ale (5.8% ABV).  Upslope’s Pale Ale pours orange / gold with a lacey head that quickly recedes.  I am not sure of the IBUs on this pale ale, but I do not think they are very high.  Upslope has brewed a well-balanced pale ale and the upstart can compete with some of the seasoned veterans.  I still want to do some side-by-sides with Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues.  I look forward to more offerings from Upslope as they grow.

Twisted Pine – Hoppy Boy
Twisted Pine is another Boulder-based brewer and Hoppy Boy (6.2% ABV and 65 IBU) is their IPA offering.  Hoppy Boy is the “flagship” beer for Twisted Pine and it is very good.  Hoppy Boy pours almost the same exact color as Upslope’s Pale ale – orangey gold with a lacey two-finger head.  This IPA is very well balanced and I really liked it.  Twisted Pine describes Hoppy Boy as “It pours a hazy pale orange and has a dry, tart taste with an earthy bitterness.   Pleasant grapefruit and citrus notes are provided by the addition of Cascade hops.  This classic American IPA is brewed with medium caramel malts that play.”  I have tried, and liked, their Big Shot Espresso Stout.  I will try more from Twisted Pine and they may be the next Colorado brewer that I focus on sampling. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2 Pale Ales and 4 IPAs

Deschutes – Red Chair - NWPA
Red Chair (6.2% ABV and 60 IBU) is a seasonal offering from Deschutes and is described as a NW Pale Ale.  Red Chair is available January through April and it almost crossed the border into IPA territory.  Red Chair pours golden amber with a two-finger head.  Deschutes uses seven different malts with a citrus focus on the hops.  Red Chair is very well balanced and is another very good beer from Deschutes.   

Alaskan - IPA
Alaskan Brewing Co.’s IPA (6.2% ABV and 55 IBU) pours gold with a small head that quickly recedes.  If you compare the ABV and bitterness with the beer above, you can become confused in the difference between an IPA and a Pale Ale.  IPAs are typically higher in ABV and IBU than Pale Ales and I think Deschutes used the NW Pale Ale designation to categorize the beer between the Deschutes Pale Ale and the IPA.  Alaskan IPA is another well-balanced beer between malt sweetness and hop bitterness with a citrus focus.

Boulder – Mojo and Hazed & Infused
Boulder Beer Co. produces a number of styles and Mojo (7.2% ABV) is their IPA.  Mojo pours golden amber with a vigorous head – I had to pour it a few times to allow the head to recede.  Mojo leans towards bitterness over malt sweetness and Amarillo hops are used in the brewing of this beer.  I could not find information on the actually IBU of this beer. 
Hazed & Infused (4.85% ABV) is a dry-hopped ale that is very popular and is an award winner.  Hazed & Infused pours cloudy amber tan with a small head.  This is cloudy because it is an unfiltered beer.  There are 4 different hop varieties used in the brewing process and 2 are used in the dry-hopping (fermentation addition) phase.  I was expecting more bitterness and was somewhat surprised with the malt forward taste that had a well-balanced finish.  Hazed & Infused is very drinkable and I can see why it is so popular.

Upslope – IPA
Upslope is a new Colorado brewer based in Boulder and they currently offer 3 different styles in cans.  I had sample two at the Winter Brewfest and picked up a can of their IPA (7.2% ABV) last week.  One complaint is their website – there is very little information about the beer or the brewery.  Upslope’s IPA pours amber with a tan two-finger head that quickly recedes.  This IPA is not bad; however, there are others that are much better.  Upslope also brews a pale ale and a brown ale.  The pale ale has received positive notes and it will be interesting to compare it with Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale.  

Anderson Valley – Hop Ottin’
Anderson Valley is a California brewer and they brew a number of different styles.  Hop Ottin’ (7% ABV and  80 IBU)  is an IPA that pours golden amber with a nice head – it took a few pour / recedes before I could empty the glass – just look at the picture.  Very good use of aroma hops for a citrus bouquet.  This is a nice IPA with a focus on citrus hops and a lot of them.  If you are a hop-head, I think you will like it.  I look forward to sampling more from Anderson Valley.

It does amaze me at the variety of color, aroma, and tastes of beers of similar style.  The varieties of malt and hops and the varieties of way they are combined make an almost infinite number of possibilities.  Some you will like better than others.  I tasted these over the course of a week and it is great to be able to purchase mixed 6 packs to sample a number of different beers from different brewers.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Pale, an Amber and a Russian Imperial Stout

Boulevard – Pale Ale

Boulevard is based in Kansas City and I have tried their Nutcracker Ale and their Chocolate Ale.  I enjoy Pale Ales and thought this would go nicely with the tacos we were having for dinner.  Boulevard Pale Ale (5.4% ABV and 30 IBU) pours orange / amber with a large head that I had to let recede a few times and continue pouring to empty the bottle.  Boulevard describes Pale Ale as “a smooth, fruity, well-balanced beer with year-round appeal. A variety of caramel malts impart a rich flavor and amber color, while liberal use of whole hops adds zest and aroma. Pale Ale is the first beer we brewed, and continues to be a perennial favorite.”  It is very easy to drink with the low bitterness and it went well with the salad and tacos.  I look forward to trying more from Boulevard in the future.
Deschutes – Green Lakes – Organic Ale

Deschutes is another Oregon brewer that brews a number of different styles and they are best known for Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  I had not tried their organic beer called Green Lakes (5.2%ABV and 45 IBU).  Green Lakes is an amber ale and it pours amber with a large head – be careful pouring.  Deschutes describes Green Lakes as “Environmental pedigree aside, Green Lakes Organic Ale is a finely balanced beer with a mellow malt profile and  subtle hop leading edge. On the  ingredient roster: five types of 100% organic malted barleys and a  complementary dose of Liberty and Sterling hops. It’s a profoundly satisfying, easy-drinking beer.  Organic aside, this is a tasty amber ale and Deschutes does not disappoint.  Green Lakes has good malt taste that is well balanced with the hops.  If you are into organic food, this is a nice beer to add to the list.

Widmer – W11 KGB

Widmer is a Portland brewery that was founded by two brothers, Kurt and Rob in 1984.  I sampled a few of their beers when I lived in Seattle and I thought they did a great job with the various styles they brew.  I had never tried anything in the W series and W11-KGB is a Russian Imperial Stout measuring 9.3% ABV and 65 IBU.  W is the brewmasters series and a different beer is released every year in the W series.  This is a big beer and it pours black with a nice frothy head.  Widmer describes W11-KGB as “Using roasted barley, chocolate malt, and Midnight Wheat, KGB has a color that is as dark as a torrid past, a body as full as a well kept dossier, and a taste as complex as a conspiracy theory. KGB boasts a deep, opaque black color. It has tremendous body and mouthfeel, achieved by the use of roasted barley and other specialty malts. A spicy hop character helps balance the beer out to create a rich and complex warmer.”  W11-KGB represents the style well and this is a nice sipping beer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Big Sky – Moose Drool and Bridgeport – Kingpin

I really like Brown ales and I have wanted to try Big Sky’s Moose Drool (5.3% ABV) for some time.  My favorite is Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale and I consider it my standard for the style.  Moose Drool pours dark brown with amber tones and has a two-finger head if you watch your pour.  Moose Drool has a great aroma of malt sweetness and just a touch of hops.  Moose Drool is the “best selling beer brewed in Montana” per the website and is described as “It’s chocolate brown in color with a creamy texture.  A malty beer with just enough hop presence to keep it from being too sweet.  The aroma mostly comes from the malt with a hint of spice added by the hops.”  Moose Drool is a tasty beer and I would have it again.  But again, I am partial to Brown ales.

I have tried a few beers from Bridgeport and I grabbed Kingpin (7.5% ABV and 65 IBU) as a member of my mixed 6er.  Kingpin pours red with a large off-white head – be careful pouring this one.  Kingpin has a nice aroma of malt and you can really pick up the hops.  Bridgeport describes Kingpin as “a full-flavored, red-colored ale that uses a rarely-grown Willamette Valley Hop varietal known as Liberty Hops from fourth generation hop farmer John Annen of Annen Bros. Farm in Silverton, Oregon. Jeff and his team of brewers also used rye and caramel malt leading to a unique flavor profile; triple-hopped for bitter aroma and a unique dry-hopped character.”  Kingpin is an interesting beer and I would describe it as a cross between a Red ale and an IPA because of the use of hops. 

Great Divide – Samurai and Odell – Red Ale

Great Divide makes a number of different styles and I had not tried Samurai (5.1% ABV) that is a Rice Ale.  Samurai pours cloudy straw yellow with a lacey head.  It is easy drinking and I would compare it to a Hefeweizen or Belgian Wit.  I’ll admit that I prefer the Belgian Wits and I think they taste better and are more refreshing.  Great Divide describes Samurai as “an easy drinking, unfiltered ale that changes the status quo for unfiltered beers. The addition of rice gives Samurai a slightly fruity, crisp, refreshing and clean taste. This is definitely not your everyday unfiltered beer.”  Samurai is not a bad beer; however, I prefer other styles.

Odell’s Red Ale (6.5% ABV and 50 IBU) is an American style Red Ale.  Red pours red / amber with a frothy head.  Red has a nice aroma with good bitterness levels from the hops.  I think this is a well-balanced ale and is another good ale from Odell.  Odell describes Red ale as “The Rocky Mountain Goat is no ordinary goat.  Just like Odell Red in nor ordinary red.  We took the American style red to a whole new level by adding a variety of aggressive American hops giving this ale a distinctive fresh hop aroma and flavor.  We think you’ll agree this red has some serious kick.”  This offering is seasonal from January to April.  Odell is a good Colorado brewer and they have some tasty beverages. 

Lagunitas - Pils and Alaskan - Summer

Lagunitas Pils is a Czech-style Pilsener (6.2% ABV and 38 IBU) that pours yellow / gold with a little head and great carbonation.  I do not think it stopped bubbling the entire time I enjoyed it.  This is a nice fizzy yellow beer and is definitely not a “macro” beer.  Pils has a crisp clean taste with a bready malt character and low bitterness.  Pilsener are one of the harder styles to brew because there is little that can be used to mask any mistakes.  Another nice one from Lagunitas.

Alaskan Brewing Co. is one of my favorite brewers and I had not tried Summer (5.3% ABV and 18 IBU) for a while and I was able to pick one up in a mixed six.  Summer is a Kolsch-style ale and is called Kolsch-style because only German brewers in Cologne can label their Kolsch beers Kolsch.  Summer pours golden straw with a nice head and is a drinkable beer.  Summer is a session beer with the low ABC and bitterness.  It could be described as a “lawnmower” beer and enjoyed during the summer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hefeweizens - Paulaner and Hofbrau

Hefeweizen is a German wheat beer that originates from southern Germany.  The blend is typically 50% wheat / 50% barley, but more wheat can be used in brewing this beer.  This beer is also cloudy because of the yeast (Hefe) that is present in this unfiltered beer.  Hefeweizen is a popular style, especially in the summer, because it is light and refreshing with tastes of banana, cloves, and bubblegum.  Some people put lemon wedges in hefeweizen – do not do this if you are in Germany – this is an American thing.  I tasted two classic German brewers – Paulaner (5.5% ABV) and Hofbrau (5.4%), which is actually brewed in Kentucky (go figure).  Both beers pour cloudy gold because of the yeast in the beer and both had a large head.  I made sure to swirl the bottles near the end of the pour to get the yeast from the bottle into the glass. I liked the Paulaner best and it had a great taste of wheat, spice, bananas, and yeast – it is a very tasty beer.  There are many American brewers that brew Hefeweizen or similar styles of wheat beers.  I enjoy Belgian Wits too and these typically have flavoring of coriander and curacao orange added that give them a unique flavor.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Achel – Bruin Bier

Achel Brewery  - Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis - is a Belgium Trappist brewery and is the smallest of the seven Trappist breweries.  I had not sampled anything from Achel before and Bruin Bier is a Dubbel with an ABV of 8%.  Bruin pours amber brown with a large head and has an aroma of spices, caramel and what I term a Belgian yeast aroma.  Bruin has nice malt sweetness, tastes like a beer from Belgium with a good balance.  I think Westmalle, Orval, Rochefort and Chimay are better.  In no means is Achel bad, I think the others are just better.  I purchased the new Ovila Dubbel release from Sierra Nevada and I think it will be nice to compare it with the classic Belgian beers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Anchor – Porter and Deschutes – Obsidian

Anchor is the oldest craft brewer in America that began in 1896, survived prohibition, and Fritz Maytag saved near extinction in 1965 when the brewery had a bank balance of $128.  First, thank you Mr. Maytag for this purchase as this is one of the breweries that started the craft beer revolution.  Anchor is best know for Anchor Steam – a California Common Beer – was first released in 1975.  Flash-forward to today and Anchor has five styles available year-round and special seasonal and project releases.  Lori made a nice birthday dinner last night of grilled rib eye, sautéed green beans and fried potatoes.  I was confident that Anchor’s Porter (5.6% ABV) would be a perfect pairing and it was. You cannot go wrong with pairing a porter with steak.  Anchor Porter pours very dark with a nice thick head.  This beer has great aroma and has a wonderful taste of chocolate and coffee that went beautifully with the grilled rib eye. 

For desert, Lori had made my favorite, German Chocolate Cake.  I was confident that a stout would pair nicely with this and I choose Deschutes Obsidian (6.4% ABV and 55 IBU).   This stout pours black and has a great nose with taste of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate.  This is a very nice stout and I really enjoyed it with the cake.  Obsidian has won many awards ove the years and I can taste why.  I like everything I have tried from Deshutes and they are one of my favorite brewers.  When I get back to Portland, I will stop by the tap room.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Alaskan - Imperial IPA and Odell - Myrcenary

Alaska Brewing is one of my favorite brewers and I have enjoyed a number of their wares over the years.  Their Smoke Porter, Amber, and Barley wine are some of my favorites and recently I tried the Double Black IPA and it was very good.  Imperial IPA is part of the Pilot Series and has an ABV of 8.5% with an IBU of 60. Imperial IPA pours golden amber and has a nice citrus aroma.  This tastes very good and is very well balanced.  Imperial IPA is not as hoppy as some Imperial IPAs I have tried and I like this beer.  The website describes Imperial IPA’s flavor profile as “Rich in color and full in flavor, Alaskan Imperial IPA is packed with Pacific Northwest hops over a sturdy malt body. Designed with balance in mind, the aroma features hints of tangerine and other citrus with the toasted sweetness of crystal malt. The green and resinous aromas of Chinook and Amarillo hops waft over the robust bitterness of Centennial hops before finishing with the dry warmth of an imperial strength IPA.”  Alaska Brewing has brewed another very good beer and if you have the opportunity to try it and you like IPAs, I think you will enjoy it.

Odell’s Myrcenary is a Double IPA (9.3% ABV and ?? IBU) is available now in a 4 pack.  The beer is “named after Myrcene, an essential oil in the hop flower, Myrcenary Double IPA is our tribute to those who revere the illustrious hop, and their unyielding exploit to craft hop forward beers.  Brewed with a blend of hops containing the highest levels of Myrcene, this Double IPA prevails with a tropical fruit-like flavor, a pungent floral aroma, and a clean getaway.” (From the website & on the label).  This one pours gold and has a nice citrus and floral aroma.  I am not sure, but I think it has a higher IBU than the Alaskan Imperial IPA.  This is a good IPA from Odell and I have three more to enjoy.

Murphy's Red Ale

I had not tried this beer before and I think Murphy’s Stout is not bad, so I picked one up for my mixed 6 pack.  Murphy’s Imperial Red Ale has an ABV of 5.0% and pours reddish amber with a nice head.  Murphy’s Red has a nice aroma but I was disappointed in the taste.  It reminded me too much of a macro beer.  It is not a terrible beer, but it is not a great beer and I will not buy it again.  I looked it up on Beer Advocate and it has a C+ rating.  I find the ratings fairly accurate and A’s and B’s are the ones you want to try.  If it has a C+ or less, avoid it.  Granted, everyone tastes are different; for me, I would choose Murphy’s Stout over Red Ale.

Avery - Karma

Avery Brewing Co.’s Karma Ale (5.2% ABV and 10 IBU) is available April through September and is a Belgian Pale Ale.  Karma pours golden amber with a nice head that takes a bit of time to recede.  This beer is very low in bitterness and has a good fruity taste with a nice dry finish.  Avery describes Karma Ale as “We believe in Karma. We suspect most of you do, too. It truly is a global concept. Very simply put, "you get what you give." Inspired by this principle and the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, we've created Karma Ale, a decidedly fruity and estery ale, intricate in body and nose, all driven by a unique Belgian yeast strain. Remember, good things DO happen to good people. Here's to being good!  I think this is another good beer for the non-beer drinker or the new to craft beer to try because it is drinkable.