Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sierra Nevada - Tumbler

My favorite season is fall.  I am not sure if it because I grew up in a farming community with a emphasis placed on the harvest, the beauty of the trees changing to brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, the cooler weather, or a combination of these factors.  One thing to look forward to in autumn is also seasonal beers and there are some good ones.  One of my favorites seasonal offerings is Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler (5.5% ABV and 37 IBU).  Tumbler is described as an “Autumn Brown Ale” and pours brown with a nice head – be careful pouring.  Tumbler is easy drinking and it is just a fantastic Brown Ale.  Sierra Nevada describes Tumbler as, “As the nights grow cool, the leaves on the valley oaks begin to turn and fall. In honor of this yearly dance, we bring you Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale and invite you to enjoy the show.  We use malt within days of roasting at the peak of its flavor to give Tumbler a gracefully smooth malt character. So pour a glass, and grab a window seat to watch as the leaves come tumbling down.”  Grab some Tumbler if you get a chance and enjoy this quaffable brown ale.  One other thing, the artwork on the label is really good and you can see that Sierra Nevada takes care of details – including the labels. 

Firestone Walker - Double Barrel and Union Jack

Colorado is a great state to live in if you enjoy craft beer, as the state has over 100 craft brewers and the number may be over 150.  We also have some good distribution for notable craft brewers out of state and one that has recently came to Colorado is Firestone Walker.  I had Double Barrel (5% ABV) earlier this year during a trip to Seattle and I had Union Jack a few weeks ago at a dinner at a friend’s home.  Double Barrel is a British Pale Ale and took a silver at the 2010 GABF for the Ordinary or Special Bitter category.  The website description is, “A British Pale Ale never tasted so fresh. We challenge our good friends across the pond to match this one. Can’t be done. We’ve honored the traditions of the great British Pale brewers of Burton-on-Trent using our patented Firestone Union oak barrels. You’re left with a mild blend of vanilla and toasted oak flavor touched with an elegant hint of English noble hops. DBA is the flagship of our company and wildly popular.”  Double Barrel pours an orange / copper with a nice head.  The hops used are classic English hop varieties and this is a really nice drinking beer. 

Union Jack (7.5% ABV) pours lighter in color that Double Barrel and also has a nice head.  There are 4 pounds of hops used per barrel and I have a home brew recipe for Union Jack that has the largest hop bill I have ever seen.  Union Jack has won a number of awards and I can see, smell and taste why.  It is in the top 10, maybe top 5 of IPAs that I have tasted.  The website describes Union Jack as, “An instant classic, Union Jack is the recipient of numerous awards including back to back wins at the Great American Beer Festival. Union Jack is abound with hop aroma and character. In fact this well balanced, west coast IPA is dry hopped 3 separate times, each lot giving it more and more of the grapefruit citrus hop aroma and flavor it is known for. Overall it utilizes over 4 pounds of pacific northwest hops per barrel.”  I will try more products from Firestone Walker and I am glad they are in Colorado.

Breckenridge - Lucky U IPA

Breckenridge Brewery’s Lucky U (6.2% ABV and 68 IBU) is an American IPA that pours orange gold with a two-finger head and has a nice floral / citrus aroma.  Lucky U is an easy drinking IPA and has a nice hop bitterness.  There are 7 different hop varieties used in the brewing process and I am thinking they probably dry hop some too for added aroma.  Lucky U is available in cans and bottles.  The website description of Lucky U is, “We like to think this is an ale for everyone who believes you make your own luck. We sure did. And the result is a well-balanced, soulful IPA with just the right amount of hoppiness. An even keeled ale that goes down clean and refreshing, but still lets you know it’s been doted on by the Brewmaster. It's true to it’s IPA heritage, but also highly drinkable. Lucky U. And we seriously mean that.”  Breckenridge brews some tasty beers and I like Lucky U and the Vanilla Porter.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bell’s – Best Brown Ale and Two Hearted Ale

I was recently visiting relatives in Indiana and got to sample some brewers from Indianapolis and I wanted to pick up some brew that is not available here.  I have read some good things about Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI and I picked up Best Brown Ale (5.8% ABV) and Two Hearted Ale (7% ABV).  Best Brown pours brown with a small head.  This is a nice balanced ale between malty sweetness and hop bitterness and it is very drinkable.  Bell’s describes Best Brown Ale as, “A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops.”

Two Hearted Ale is an IPA that uses only one hop, Centennial, in the brewing process.  Two Hearted Ale pours orange gold with a nice large head.  It has very good aromatics and is a very good IPA.  I could taste why some many people have rated this IPA very high.  Bell’s states Two Hearted Ale, “is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.”  If you have not tried something from Bell’s and you get the opportunity, I can easily recommend them.  I will definitely purchase more on my next trip back to Indiana.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lagunitas – Hop Stoopid

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid (8% ABV and 102 IBU) is brewed for the hophead.  I have been looking forward to trying this for some time and I was not disappointed.  Hop Stoopid is a hop-focused beer and it poured a nice golden orange with a large head – be careful pouring.  Hop Stoopid has a very nice aroma and this is a very good double IPA.  I paired it with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes and the bitterness and acidity of the tomatoes brought out the malt sweetness of the beer.  Lagunitas describes Hop Stoopid as “For those mornings when you have to cut right to the chase, this is the one. Sure to blast through just about anything still lingering from the night before, this mouthful of Hops and huge rich Malt has a guarantee built right into the name!  This is another nice beer from Lagunitas and I will try more in the future.

The Bier Brewery and Sun King

I was back home again in Indiana (no pun intended) to visit relatives and celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  On Friday, 5 August, we stayed at Karen and Darren’s home.  Darren had went out earlier to the Bier Brewery and picked up a growler of Weisengoot and a liter of Apricot Wheat Bier.  The Weisengoot is a Hefeweizen and both poured cloudy yellow with a nice two-finger head.  I enjoyed both of these very much and I thought the Weizengoot reminded my of Avery’s White Rascal with a taste hints of spice, banana and perhaps a Belgian yeast taste.  The Apricot Wheat Bier was the first fruit beer that I can say that I actually enjoyed.  I wish I had stopped by the brewery to sample more of their biers, but the schedule was too tight.  I have since learned the Bier Brewery was awarded the Indiana State Fair Champion Brewery this year and I have traded email with the brewer congratulating them on their win and brewing some mighty tasty bier. 

I also had the opportunity, thank you Darren, to try Sun King’s Wee Mac (5.3% ABV and 23 IBU) a Scottish-style Brown Ale that is described as a “Scottish Style Brown [with] a nice hazelnut character and with rich toffee undertones”, which was awarded the “Gold Medal, 2010 Indiana Brewer’s Cup, English Brown Ale”.  This one poured from the can dark tan with a nice head.  This is a really nice tasting beer and easy to drink.  I can see why Sun King was named one of the ten brewers to watch in 2011 by Draft magazine. 

I was really impressed by these three samplings from Indiana craft brewers and I look forward to trying more from them on the next trip back to Indiana.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lagunitas - The Censored and Anchor - Liberty Ale

Lagunitas The Censored (6.75% ABV) is described as a “Rich Copper Ale” and is an American Amber / Red Ale and The Censored pours a beautiful copper color this is a malty beer and it has some nice bitterness with it.  I enjoyed this one and Lagunitas is a great brewer.  The web description of The Censored is, “The original name of this original ale was originally derived from an origin so heinous that we cannot reveal its aboriginal oregeny. sorry. Actually, it's an easy drinking malty Copper Ale that goes easy on the hops. Whatever.”  Side note – Chronic is slang for Marijuana – I am not sure if this is what they are referring to.

 Anchor Liberty Ale (5.9% ABV) and was first brewed to commemorate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s famous ride.  Liberty Ale pours golden with a large head.  This is another tasty beverage from Anchor.  Anchor is a great brewer and I really appreciate them leading the craft beer revolution.  The web description of Liberty Ale – “First introduced in 1975, Liberty Ale® is brewed strictly according to traditional brewing methods, and, like all Anchor Brewing Company products, uses only natural ingredients — water, malted barley, fresh whole hops and yeast.  A special top-fermenting ale yeast is used during fermentation and is responsible for many of Liberty Ale's subtle flavors and characteristics. Carbonation is produced by an entirely natural process called "bunging," which produces champagne-like bubbles. Dry-hopping (adding fresh hops to the brew during aging), imparts a unique aroma to the ale. It is a process rarely used in this country today.”  Note – There are a number of brewers that use the dry-hopping technique today.  These are the craft brewers and I do not know if any of the macro-brewers use this technique.

Boulevard Brewing Co.

I have been on vacation and needed to catch up with a few entries into the blog.  Recently, I tried three from Boulevard Brewing Co., based in Kansas City, MO.  The three I tried were Unfiltered Wheat beer (4.4% ABV and 14 IBU), Bully Porter (5.4% ABV and 49 IBU), and Single-Wide IPA (5.7% ABV and 57 IBU).  These were all good and I really enjoyed the Bully! Porter.  I was in the mood for a porter and it went well with strawberry shortcake, vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate syrup.  Boulevard does a great job with the descriptions of their beers and they provide the ingredients, recommended pairings, awards, the “stats” on beer, and a Sensory Profile that is very accurate.  Below are pictures are from me; as well as, the descriptions and sensory profiles from the Boulevard web site.

Description - Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. This easy drinking American-style wheat beer has become our most popular offering, and the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest.  
Sensory Profile - A slightly cloudy, light-bodied, straw colored beer with a sweet, bready malt flavor, low hop bitterness and a hint of citrus.

Description - Bully! Porter - A dark colored, medium-bodied beer with a prominent burnt, roasted malt aroma and flavor and an equally prominent hop aroma, flavor and bitterness.   The intense flavors of dark-roasted malt in Boulevard’s rendition of the classic English porter are perfectly balanced by a generous and complex hop character.
Sensory Profile - Bully! Porter’s robust nature makes it the ideal companion to a variety of foods, from seafood to chocolate.

Description - Boulevard Single-Wide I.P.A. is our take on a style that originated in 18th century Great Britain. This American version—inspired by our Smokestack Series Double-Wide I.P.A.—boasts a heady combination of six varieties of hops, some of which were employed for dry-hopping.
Sensory Profile - A golden colored beer with a prominent flowery, grapefruit hop aroma, a moderate caramel malt flavor and a dominant hop bitterness and flavor.