Archive for the tag “beer review”

The Maharaja – Avery Brewing Company

maharaja_bttl

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.

toasts-3   3 Toasts

Maharaja

 

toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts

Arctic Soiree – Grassroots Brewing and Anchorage Brewing Company

 

grassrootsanchorage_arctic_saison_bttl6% ABV, 12 degrees Plato
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($14.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “ale fermented and aged in oak tanks with brettanomyces, lime juice and hibiscus” is another collaboration beer between Alaska-based Anchorage and Grassroots, a Vermont farmstead brewery.  Arctic Soiree pours a gorgeous, burnished color that is equal parts ruby red grapefruit flesh and ruddy apricot, with a mid-sized, bone white head.  It has a bright nose of barnyard must, brettanomyces, citrus juice, grapefruit, and oak tannins.  Sweet, candy-like citrus and white wine grapes push to the front on the first swallow, backed by tart and flowery notes courtesy of the lime juice and hibiscus.  Papaya, oak, aspirin tablets, cantaloupe, and other more rounded melon flavors emerge on later swallows.  This is a very refreshing and original beer, a worthy successor to last year’s Grassroots/Anchorage collaboration Arctic Saison, with none of the potentially offensive and discordant components over-asserting themselves.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

ArticSoiree

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Black Hand – Speakeasy

BlackHand_bttl6.9% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market in Sacramento ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

This milk stout “brewed with cacao nibs” pours an impenetrable ebony with a short, brown head.  Big chocolate cake and heavy cream smells greet the nose upon first sniff, along with a curious mineral scent and a little bit of graham cracker, coffee, and milk chocolate.  The first swallow is dessert-y and delicious, with chocolate and milk mingling on the palette alongside a grassy taste that (if I know my old-guard West Coast breweries…) is probably courtesy of an amped-up hop profile.  The mouthfeel gets milkier on the finish, with flavors of chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, mineral water, and half-and-half also entering the picture.

toasts-4   4 Toasts

Speackeasy_BlackHand

toasts-4   4 Toasts

Valley of the Hearts Delight – Almanac Beer Company

almanac_valley_bttl7% ABV
Purchased at Corti Brothers (12.68 oz. bottle) and poured into mini-wine glasses.

This “ale brewed with apricots, loquats, and cherries and aged in used wine barrels” pours a pale, citrus juice gold with a tight ivory head and some fruit flotsam in the glass.  Sour fruit aromas beckon you on the nose, with a fantastic fruit bowl of smells that includes grapefruit, kumquat, kiwi, sour grapes, banana, and even watermelon.  Valley of the Hearts Delight offers lovely tart and sour fruit flavors on the first swallow, but it’s refreshing instead of face-puckering.  Except for the steady presence of oak tannins, all of the flavors are fruity – pulpy pink grapefruit, sour cherries, assorted juicy berries, lemon zest, kiwi, and guava.  This ambitious and brilliant beer hits a wide variety of notes on the palette, and all of them are perfectly in key.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Almanac-ValleyHearts

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Vieille Artisanal Saison – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

vieille-bttl

4.2% ABV
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room (12.7 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “artisanal saison aged in oak barrels” pours a clear, pale grapefruit juice yellow with a slight, bright white head.  It lovingly socks you with major farmhouse and tropical fruit aromas in front, and those are backed up in the nose by sour apple, hay, and earthy hops.  Well-rounded citrus dominates the first swallow, ending with a juicy finish of wet grass, mango, and lemon peel.  There is not much sourness here, just some citrus-y tartness, along with green apple, pineapple juice, dry crackers, and hops.  Vieille is one of the best beers I’ve had from Crooked Stave, a delicious and refreshing saison with a delicate touch on the palette.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Vieille-CrookedStave

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Sour in the Rye with Kumquats – The Bruery

bruery-sourrye-kumquats-bttl7.6% ABV
Purchased through The Bruery Provisions (25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into wine glasses.

This variation on Sour in the Rye was aged in oak barrels with kumquats, and it pours a muddy, peachy copper with a vaporous white head.  The somewhat perplexing aroma contains sour candy, a little vinegar, puckering citrus fruits, and oaky wine tannins.  Sour in the Rye with Kumquats has a surprisingly refreshing sourness given all of the elements in play, with the intense kumquat juiciness asserting itself on the second wave of flavor.  Oranges, lemon peels, and papayas are all present on the tongue in addition to the kumquats, and while the rye never emerges as an independent flavor, it does seem to have imbued the citrus flavors with an extra intensity.

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SourRye-Kumquats

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CELLAR SERIES: Double Eye PA – Mikkeller

mikkeller-double-eye-bttl14.0% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($6.99/11.2 oz. bottle), cellared for 11 months, and poured into taster glasses.

This super-sized double IPA from Mikkeller pours a cloudy butterscotch color with a tight, dirty white head and some flecks of yeast floating on the surface.  It has a super-strong nose of boozy citrus, mostly oranges and tangerines, along with some lemon and wood notes.   The first swallow is a wallop, with butterscotch, hard alcohol, and kindling wood most notably emerging, but there is also a grass and pine bitterness on the finish.  Double Eye PA goes through a number of flavor phases, and while 11 months in the cellar has not dulled the intensity, it does re-emerge from its slumber as more an intensely hopped blonde barley wine than an Imperial IPA.  However, the complexity and masterful storytelling have not diminished, as everything from blonde caramel, crackers, citrus fruits, brown sugar, honey, and whiskey makes an appearance on the tongue.

See our original review here.

toasts-5-small   5 Toasts

MikkellerDoubleEyePA-Cellar

toasts-5-small   5 Toasts

Scotch Silly Barrel Aged – Brasserie de Silly

ScotchSillyBarrelAged9% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($15.49/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This barrel-aged Scotch ale from the Belgium-based Brasserie de Silly pours a prune-ish brown with a tight, off-white head.  The boozy nose offers alcohol-doused caramel chews, plums and other dark fruits, as well as raisins and other dried fruits.  Barrel Aged Scotch Silly has a relatively light mouthfeel for the style, with some woody bitterness on the aftertaste, and an alcohol flavor reminiscent of apple brandy.  There is a bit more toffee on later swallows, with slightly more nuanced raisin and dried apricot flavors coming to the fore as it warms in the glass, at which point the alcohol taste begins to resemble dark rum.  It is quite tasty if you’re in the mood for a big beer, with flavors that get progressively better.

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ScotchSilly

toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts

Tripel B – Adelbert’s Brewery

tripelb_adelberts9.3% ABV
Purchased through Rare Beer Club ($/25.4 oz.bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This bottle-conditioned Belgian tripel from Austin-based Adelbert’s pours a cloudy cantaloupe juice orange with a minimal, bright white head.  It smells of grass, toffee, some farmhouse funk, melon, cantaloupe, and tropical citrus.  There is a lovely warmth and restrained sweetness on the first swallow, with the expected tropical and melon flavors given a biting contrast from the peppery Belgian yeast.  Adelbert’s Tripel B is very heavy for a Belgian tripel, reaching more into the realm of a strong Belgian gold.  It’s not a boozy beer, but while some cracker-like grains, spice, caramel, and marmalade flavors are present, the overall taste is fairly neutral and tiring on the palette.

toasts-3   3 Toasts

Adelberts_Tripel

toasts-3   3 Toasts

Coming Home 2013 – Grand Teton Brewing Company

CHHA13-bottle7.5% ABV
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room and poured into goblet glasses.

This year’s Grand Teton winter seasonal is brewed in the style of a Belgian dubbel, and it pours a burnished gold with a tight, dirty white head.  The sweet nose offers fairly standard-for-the-style aromas of dark fruit, Belgian candied sugar, red apple, and a little caramel and butterscotch.  Toffee and caramel flavors take the lead on the first swallow, backed up dark fruits, and fading into an unexpected crispness on the finish that makes Coming Home 2013 lighter than a classic Belgian dubbel.  A little bit of spice comes in on subsequent sips, but it mostly holds the sweet fruit and toffee flavors throughout, indicating this beer would be a compatible mate with non-chocolate desserts.

toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts

ComingHome2013toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts

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