Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two excellent seasonal beers from Deschutes

You just cannot go wrong when you purchase something brewed by Deschutes.  The two latest ones I tried were Hop Trip (5.4% ABV & 38 IBU) and Jubelale (6.7% ABV & 60 IBU).  Hop Trip has limited availability from Oct. – Dec. and you want to drink this soon after purchase to capture the freshness of the hops used in brewing this pale ale.  The hops are raised locally to Deschutes and they go from vine to brew kettle in 4 hours.  Hop Trip pours copper gold with a nice two-finger head.  There is a very solid hop aroma and I really expected a hoppy tasting beer.  I should have known that Deschutes would balance Hop Trip perfectly and it a wonderful blend of sweet malt and bitter hops.  This is a fantastic beer.

Website description – “Each year around Labor Day, Deschutes brewers high-tail it over the pass to Doug Weather’s hop fields near Salem for the harvest. After bagging these aromatic jewels, we hustle back and toss them into the brew kettles within four hours of picking. Our reward: a pale ale with a uniquely bright citrus punch and fall spice. It’s something only Deschutes would take past the idle-talk stage.”

Jubelale is a winter seasonal offered between Oct. – Dec. and is a Stong Ale.  I knew when I poured this garnet tan colored beauty that it would be a malty beer.  I has an excellent sweet malt start with spicy notes then a nicely bitter finish from the hops.  Jubelale may be my new favorite holiday beer and I will pick up some more.  If Deschutes distributes in your area, I suggest you picked these up and they will be gone all too quickly.

Website description – “A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family.  The collaborative art of Central Oregon artists Cara Thayer and Louie Van Patten adorns this year's label.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Uinta – Baba

Uinta’s Baba ( ? ABV & 32 IBU) is classified as a Euro Dark Lager and I had to actually look up a description, as I did not recall ever reading this one before.  From The Beer Spot – “The Euro Dark Lager is a slightly stronger and malty/sweeter version a typical lager. The flavors should be notable but still somewhat muted, as the malts overshadow the hops. The aroma should have minimal malt or hop tones. Color should be amber to medium brown.”  Baba (black sheep) pours black and has a nice head that will top off the pint glass.  It is very easy to drink and I enjoyed it.  This is one of Uinta’s organic line and there are 6 styles that are USDA certified organic.  While I am not a big fan of lagers, I do like the dark lagers and I will try more in the future. 

Website Description – “Robust and smooth, this full-flavored lager is exceptionally drinkable and pitch black in color.” 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dogfish Head – Punkin

Dogfish Head’s Punkin (7% ABV and 28 IBU) is a pumpkin beer from the makers of “off-centered stuff for off-centered people”.  Besides the basic ingredients for beer, pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg are added.  Think of this as pumpkin pie in a glass.  Punkin pours what my son described as orange almond brown and has a two-finger head.  One can detect the pumpkin and spices on the nose.  The pumpkin and spice taste is subtle – you know it is there, but it is not over-powering.  Punkin is a very good seasonal ale and it would go very well with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  This beer was featured on the Discovery channel show Brewmaster’s and was interesting to watch.

Website description – “A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. This is the perfect beer to warm-up with, as the season cools.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Left Hand – Fade to Black Vol. 3 – Pepper Porter

I tried Left Hand’s Fade to Black Vol. 2 at the beginning of the year and I really liked the Smoked Porter.  Vol. 3  is a Pepper Porter (7.2% ABC and 1,984 Scoville Units) and I picked up a six-pack when I saw it.  It pours very dark – black – with a lacy head.  One can definitely pick up pepper on the nose and I was somewhat surprised that I did not pick up a strong pepper presence on the taste.  This is a very nice porter and has a great taste, I was expecting a bit more of a pepper bite, which may have been somewhat muted by the spicy dish I was eating.  I think Left Hand brews two volumes during the fall and winter and I will purchase these when I see them.  They are always something a little different, are here for only a limited time, and are always tasty.

Website Description – “Imagine Robert DeNiro sitting in your darkened parlour near the fire in his Louis Cyphre persona smoking a Tuscan cigar. This may be the beer with which to save (or lose) your soul. Dried fruit flavors entwined with smoky pepper and licorice embossed on roasty malt sweetness open on your tongue as the slow warmth of chilis creep up on your tongue and throat, finishing in an herbal smoke ring flourish.”

Tommyknocker – Butt Head Bock

Tommyknocker is a local brewer based in Idaho Springs, CO and is probably best know for their Maple Nut Brown Ale.  Butt Head Bock (8.2% ABV and 33 IBU) is a doppelbock or double bock that is a German lager beer style.  Butt Head pours dark brown with a small head.  This is a malt forward beer with little bitterness.  I would classify Butt Head as all right, not bad, not great, just all right.  It would probably pair very well with sausages and roasted or grilled pork. 

Website description - This award winning , high gravity doppelbock lager is brewed with a generous supply of roasted malts producing caramel sweetness and rich mouthfeel.

Kona – Wailua Wheat Ale

Kona Brewing Co.’s Wailua Wheat Ale (5.4% ABV and 15 IBU) is a wheat beer that uses passion fruit during the brewing process.  Wailua pours crystal clear (has to be filtered) with great carbonation.  It has a nice bouquet and one can easily smell the fruit from the use of the passion fruit addition.  Wailua is very easy to drink and has a distinct taste of a wheat beer with a finish of the passion fruit.  I usually do not like fruit / vegetable beers, but this one is not bad.  The name of this beer is inspired by Wailua falls in Maui and I visited the falls a number of years ago.  It is a beautiful site and one can never forget driving the road to Hana.

Website description of Wailua Wheat Ale -  Swimming in a fresh water pool at the base of a cascading waterfall is what we all imagine we would find in paradise. On Maui, follow the old Hana Highway and you will find such a place – Wailua Falls. This plunging cascade of clear water is the inspiration for our Limited Release Wailua Wheat Ale. This golden, sun colored ale has a bright, citrus flavor that comes from the tropical passion fruit we brew into each batch. Sit back, relax and enjoy paradise anytime.”

Suggested Food Pairing – “It typically pairs well with lighter fare like grilled fish and shrimp, roasted chicken, salads and Asian foods. Perhaps even a dish of vanilla ice cream.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Cider, a Wit and a Stout

While it sounds like that start of a joke, it is not, and these were the last three styles I sampled.  Strongbow Cider (5% ABV) is the best selling cider in England and it pours straw gold with no head.  It has a cider aroma and is easy to drink with a dry finish.  My wife tried it and took my glass, so there was little sampling I completed other than some original tastes.  I will obtain additional ciders in the future to sample and there are a number of craft hard cider producers making some outstanding ciders.  If you like cider, you will probably like hard cider.

Hoegaarden Wit Blanche (4.9% ABV) is a Belgian Wheat beer and InBev owns the brewery.  Wit has won numerous awards in the Belgian-style Wheat/White beer and Hoegaarden's version is right to standard for the style.  Wit pours a cloudy yellow and instructions on the bottle inform you to use the last few ounces to swirl the yeast at the bottom to pour into the glass.  Wit has a lacey white head that takes a bit of time to recede and I filled a 20 oz. glass while pouring the 11.2 oz. bottle.  There is a nice aroma of spices (coriander and orange peel are used in brewing) and Belgian yeast.  This is a quaffable beer and you can easily drink these all day with the low ABV. 

Stout is one of my favorite styles and when I saw Left Hand Brewery’s Milk Stout Nitro (6% ABV and 25 IBU), I had to try it.  Left Hand is now adding nitrogen with the Milk Stout in the bottle to obtain a pour very similar to the pour of a Guinness Stout.  The instructions are to pour it hard and watch.  Milk Stout pours black and a nice, thick creamy head formed in my pint glass.  Milk Stout has unfermentable lactose sugars, so if you are lactose intolerant, do not drink milk stouts – some may be called sweet stouts.  This is a really good stout and I will buy this again.  A few people tried this at a party we had last weekend and they really liked it.  I poured a few beers and this one and Avery’s The Kaiser were enjoyed by almost everyone.  So, don’t be afraid to go to the dark side and enjoy a Milk Stout Nitro. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bear Republic – Big Bear Black Stout

Bear Republic is a brewer based in Cloverdale, CA and Big Bear Black Stout (8.1% ABV and 55 IBU) is an American Stout.  Bear Republic’s web site describes Big Bear Black Stout as, “Big Bear is a big, black, stout you can really sink your teeth into. The bold, roasty, caramel malt flavor is balanced by Centennial and Cascade hops.  Big Bear pours black with a large head and has a prominent hop aroma.  Big Bear has a great flavor with notes as the web site describes - roasty & caramel, and I picked up some coffee note; and then the hops hit you, but not too hard.  It is a little hoppier than many stouts and this would be a good one for the IPA fan to try.  I ejnoyed Bear Republic's Big Bear Black Stout and I would have it again.