Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing)

11% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea and poured into miniature wine glasses.

His Notes:

The legendary limited release Imperial IPA from Russian River pours a clear, pale, hay yellow with a minimal white head.  It smells of citrus trees, melons, freshly cut pine, and a little bit of bubblegum.  Pliny the Younger offers a very complex mix of bitter and sweet notes on the palette, but it’s subtle and nuanced on both sides of the equation.  The pine bitterness is so fresh it’s practically zesty, with more pine needles than palette-wrecking pine resin in the long and lingering aftertaste.  There is a dry, cakelike texture to the sweetness, as well as a mixture of melons and citrus fruits, but it’s the oily bitterness that dominates the tongue as those other flavors fade.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4.5 Toasts


Autumn Farmhouse Pale 2011 (Almanac Beer)

7 % ABV, 29 IBUs
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($16.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

His Notes:

Brewed with pesticide-free plums from the Central Valley, Almanac’s Autumn Farmhouse Pale pours pale honey gold with a fluffy white head.  The utterly appetizing nose blends Belgian yeast and barnyard funk with orchard fruits, including plums that smell like they’re bursting out of their skin.  There is a little more spiciness than expected on the tongue, but it’s backed up beautifully by bittersweet plum and citrus rind flavors.  Although there are fewer of the farmhouse/saison qualities than the nose would suggest, this beer is fruity and refreshing from first sip to last, and the addition of unrefined wheat lends it a distinctly summer-y feel.

  4 Toasts

Her Notes:

4.5 Toasts


Old Guardian 2012 (Stone Brewing Company)

11% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

The 2012 vintage of Stone Brewing’s annual “Barley Wine Style Ale” pours a transparent dark orange with a thick body and a minimal off-white head.  Old Guardian’s unexpectedly fruity nose is fairly similar to a prototypical west coast IPA, with just a little wood in the background.  It offers orange candy syrup on the first swallow, gradually getting more bitter and woodsy as that initial sweetness fades.  It’s essentially a hopped-up version of a barleywine – a thick mouthfeel, the taste of barrel wood, some brown sugar, plenty of hops, and a mild alcohol burn on the retreat.  This brew is very drinkable and delicious for fans of strong beers, but with all the complexity and muscle you’d want from an American barleywine.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

    4 Toasts


Guinness Draught

4.2% ABV
Purchased at Safeway ($6.99/6-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

The iconic “Pasteurized Stout” from Guinness pours a murky black with a decent-sized tan head.  There are few roasted and toffee notes on the nose, but mostly it’s that strong, apple-flavored malt common to “classic” British brews.  The mouthfeel is more watery than suggested by the dark hue, but it’s well-balanced by mild coffee, toffee, and nut flavors.  Brewed in Dublin since 1759, Guinness Draught is eminently smoothe, drinkable, and creamy session stout (and less sweet then you might think given the smell) but the tepid flavors and overall lack of depth grow fairly tiresome after a while, as does the flat aftertaste.

  3 Toasts

Her Notes:

   3 Toasts


Alpine Spring (Samuel Adams)

5.5% ABV
Purchased at Target ($12.99/12-pack) as part of the Samuel Adams Brewmasters Series and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

This new spring seasonal from Sam Adams pours sunrise yellow with a bright white head.  The airy nose has cooked lemons, hay, and just the slightest bit of funk.  Alpine Spring’s sweet and tangy taste prominently features fermented citrus, but also a notable sweat sock funkiness not uncommon to the keller bier style.  The taste is essentially a more citrus-inflected version of a light pilsner, and what it lacks in innovation it makes up for with its refreshing finish and warm-weather drinkability.  This is a beer to quench your thirst, not your sense of adventure.

  3.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  3 Toasts


Readers’ Reserve: Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Abbye St. Remy)

11.3% ABV
Gifted by Kyle T. and poured into tulip glasses.

His Notes:

This legit Belgian abbey beer pours slate brown with creamy, swirling highlights and a fizzy, cola-colored head.  It offers up a beautiful nose of freshly pulled caramel and taffy, wood, and cooked cherries, but there are subtle changes with each new sniff. Trappistes Rochefort 10 is sweet and dusky on the palette, with more cooked berries, some toffee, and additional warm and chewy candies.  There are licorice and raisin flavors as well, along with a certain Belgian barnyard quality.  The texture and flavor profile are very desert-like, but unlike an imposing desert wine or port, this brilliant and highly drinkable beer hides its huge alcohol content with grace.

  5 Toasts

Her Notes:

   5 Toasts


Hoptologist DIPA (Knee Deep Brewing)

9% ABV, 102 IBUs
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shop ($8.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

His Notes:

This brew from Lincoln-based Knee Deep Brewing won the Double IPA Festival during San Francisco Beer Week.  Hoptologist pours golden amber with an ivory head, and offers a tropical and fruity nose similar to strawberry syrup, along with a surprising maple glaze scent.  It has a very unique taste for an Imperial IPA, with very little of the expected pine, citrus, or floral flavors upon first swallow.  Instead, Hoptologist is honeyed and woody, with almost a graham cracker character to the mouth-coating finish.  Only after those original and intriguing flavors fade does the palate-crushing bitterness come in and take over the tongue.

  4 Toasts

Her Notes:

    4.5 Toasts


Winter Welcome Ale (Samuel Smith’s)

6.0% ABV
Purchased at Corti Brothers and poured into tulip glasses

His Notes:

Like all of Samuel Smith’s beers, Winter Welcome was fermented in their trademark stone Yorkshire squares, and the resultant brew has that mossy, distinctly British character.  It pours a golden orange with a tight, white head, looking very summery for what is described on the bottle as a “contemplative” winter ale.  The sweet, apple-syrup aroma and unpleasantly heavy malt flavor, however, are more in line with what is expected from a prototypical English winter brew.  It’s just apples, some pears, and lots of syrupy malt on the nose and palette giving way to mild bitterness and a fairly gross tongue-coating sensation.

  2 Toasts

Her Notes:

  3 Toasts


Hazelnut Brown Nectar (Rogue Ales)

6.2% ABV, 33 IBUs
Purchased at Davis Bottle Shoppe ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

This popular beer from Rogue pours walnut brown with a thin, desert sand-colored head, and gives off the subtle and smoky smell of ripe nuts, tobacco smoke, and dried leaves.  With the deep and rich flavor of brown nuts, cigar ash, and a soothing dollop of honey, Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a great fall beer that could also be a great winter beer.  Hazelnut extract has been added to the brew, but it doesn’t taste gimmicky or fake, and doesn’t overwhelm your palette like Sierra Nevada’s similar autumnal offering Tumbler (it should pair well with hearty meat dishes and stews).  It finishes beautifully, with the smoke and leaf flavors rounding out into a smoky and smooth retreat.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

    4.5 Toasts


Labyrinth Black Ale (Uinta Brewing)

13.2% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($14.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into globe glasses.

His Notes:

Utah-based Uinta’s Labyrinth pours an oozy, inky black with a small but frothy tan head, and the deep nose contains coffee, dark chocolate, wood-fermented yeast, and molasses.  The initial flavor is strong, earthy, and oaky, with the creme brulee-style sweetness turning to alcohol bitterness and throat burn.  Its’ first sip delivers on the promises of the nose, but it takes you on some labyrinthine twists and turns afterward.  The licorice that has been added during the brew comes through mainly in the aftertaste initially, but gets stronger and stronger as the beer slowly warms.  Labyrinth goes through a number of changes on the tongue, from sweet molasses to sturdy oak to bitter chocolate and licorice, getting less sweet and more smoky-bitter with each sip.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4.5 Toasts


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