“Beer, if drank with moderation,
softens the temper,
cheers the spirit and
We’re excited to be contributing to “Eat Drink Films”. Check out our review of Speakeasy’s Payback Porter.
Purchased at Curtis Park Market ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.
This “smoked double porter” from Mendocino Brewing Company pours a black tea-like dark brown with a slight sandalwood head, while the nose mixes burnt kindling, savory smoked bacon, and just a little bit of Band-Aid. That slightly medicinal aroma is thankfully absent on the palette, and instead the first swallow offers waves of maple, candied nuts, and some chocolate flavors, with a second charge dominated by bitter wood smoke. The smoked bacon component is also present, but Talon mostly contrasts that maple and praline sweetness against birch and hickory woodiness, and the result should please fans of this style.
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($8.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into mini globe glasses.
This “black rye kölsch” is the first entry in Stone’s “Spotlight Series,” the winner of a blind tasting contest whose entries were sourced from Stone’s own brewers. It pours a glossy, minor key black with a mid-sized sawdust head, and offers a welcoming nose of chocolate-y coffee, licorice, and black bread. Sprocket Bier is surprisingly light and crisp on the palette, and also quite thirst-quenching, with the coffee and roasted nut bitterness riding in only on the finish. The yeasty brightness of the kölsch is counterpointed by the beer’s dark and roasted qualities, and the whole thing is harmonized by the presence of rye, which also adds a nice snap to the aftertaste. It is an excellent intersection of chocolate, coffee, yeasty dark bread, rye, and nuts, and it consistently maintains a light and lovely mouthfeel.
Purchased at Final Gravity ($19.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.
This bourbon-barrel aged sour ale from Kansas City-based Boulevard pours a ruby-tinged rust color with a mid-sized beach sand head, and a fair amount of flotsam in the body. Sour fruit aromas sock you in the nose, including SweeTarts, pineapples, tart berries, and red wine. A big tartness also asserts itself on the tongue, but the beer finishes pretty clean, with grapefruit, slightly immature strawberries, green apple, and even lime coming to the fore. Some of the barrel makes its way onto the palette on subsequent swallows, but the most accurate analogue to the beer is a sour apple-flavored Jolly Rancher. We cellared this beer for 14 months before uncorking, and I did not recall it being this fruit-driven and boldly tart in the spring of 2013, nor this distinct and nuanced. My suspicions were seemingly confirmed by the bottle itself, which includes icons indicating low fruitiness and medium sour-ness, although many Beer Advocate reviewers from the time of release mention green apples, tart berries, and the like. Either way, this beer is fantastic, and should hold up in the cellar for at least another year.
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room (16.9 oz. bottle) and poured into mini wine glasses.
This barrel-aged saison from Denmark brewery Amager pours an apple butter color with a thick white head, and a subtly smoky nose of burnt leaves, cigar ash, and wood. There were not any saison-like notes on the nose in my glass, and it was surprisingly bready and nearly quad-like on the first swallow, fading into dark fruit and caramel, with a woody bitterness in the finish. Smokiness is generally a red flag for a saisons, and it seems fairly certain that this beer was infected, although it’s unclear at which phase the infection occurred. During brewing? During barreling? During bottling? Somewhere in transport? In my fridge? Whatever the case, the beer still remains pretty interesting and drinkable, with notes of brown sugar, apple, scorched wood, and a whiff of hard alcohol, with a finish of bitter kindling that is the only truly unpleasant part. It should also be noted that although this beer was poured evenly between two small glasses, Darcey’s glass did not have that distinctly smoky nose or the woody finish. Hers was more flowery on the nose, similar to chamomile tea, with a bit of a lemony flavor coming in at the finish. I would rate my glass 2 ½ toasts and Darcey’s glass 3 ½ toasts, so I will split the difference at 3 toasts.
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($9.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.
This third Game of Thrones-themed beer from Cooperstown, New York-based Ommegang pours a rusty red with a massive, persistent, off-white head. Through the thick froth, you can make out an interesting nose of dark fruits (especially plums) and chili peppers, along with some notes of Belgian spice. Although this hoppy Belgian red ale has been spiced up with the addition of Ancho chiles (as well as spelt and rye), there is no major heat on the tongue or in the throat, just a consistent chile flavor accenting the base taste of apple, plum, and berry. Fire and Blood is far more drinkable than you would expect from the description, offering delicious but relatively restrained Belgian-style flavors with a lot of depth and nuance.
Purchased through Rare Beer Club and poured into tulip glasses.
This blackberry-aged Berliner Weisse from Charlotte-based NoDa Brewing pours a clear, light gold with a filmy, bright white head. The Rare Beer Club notes suggested aging Tart Attack for a maximum of 6 to 7 months, and this bottle fit right within that timeframe. It offered a berry patch nose of blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and a little mineral water, with some white wine grapes and honeydew melon on the periphery. There is a succulent tartness on the first swallow dominated by berries and other fruits, including green apple and cantaloupe, but it finishes clean and crisp, without a significant amount of mouth pucker. Some dusty funk asserts its presence on the nose and tongue, and a lemon-like tartness appears on the finish, giving Tart Attack the feel of a North Carolina terroir brew.
Purchased at Curtis Park Market ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into Green Flash tulip glasses.
This plainly named hoppy dark ale from beloved San Diego brewers Green Flash pours an espresso bean dark brown-black with a mid-sized and slowly fading tan-colored head. The expected Black IPA aromas of leafy hops and burnt toast are present, but the supporting smells favor dark fruits and berries over the usual coffee-like roast. Green Flash Black IPA offers an excellent mix of fresh hops and scorched grains on the first swallow, with a bitterness that is reminiscent of coffee without necessarily matching its flavor profile. Fresh and assertive hop bittering helps to offset the chalkiness that can sometimes creep into black IPAs, and fans of the style should appreciate this beer, even if the flavors are a little overstated.
10.2% ABV, 102 IBUS, 21 degrees Plato
Purchased at Corti Brothers ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.
This famed Double IPA is part of Avery’s “Dictator Series” (along with their excellent Czar, a Russian Imperial Stout that we reviewed here ), and it pours a deep gold with a frothy, eggshell white head. Classic DIPA aromas make an impression on the nostrils even two full feet away from the glass. Upon closer olfactory inspection, Maharaja offers a very sweet nose of fruit syrup, strawberries, browned toast, and honey, an aroma that doesn’t seem like it could possibly be the prelude to a triple-digit IBU beer. The first swallow follows the lead of the nose, doling out honey-drizzled fruits like strawberry, peach, and pineapple, but ending in a wave of hop bitterness that closes on a note of spiced crackers. Maharaja is thick as tree sap and sweet as syrup, with a malt presence that is overstated for my taste, and an almost tyrannical mix of tastes that varies from spicy to sugary to full-on hop burn.