Archive for the category “Ale”

Coffee Brown – Saint Archer

starcher_coffee_bttl6% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($4.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

Brewed by San Diego upstarts Saint Archer, Coffee Brown pours a black coffee color with a mid-sized, sawdust-colored head.  The nose is more sweet than roasty, not unlike coffee candy, with aromas of coffee, amaretto, milk chocolate and toffee.  Coffee Brown gets sweet on the first swallow as well, with a flavor that feels a little too artificial, and although it finishes with a nice coffee and cream richness, the aftertaste is a little thick and syrupy.  There is some nuttiness from the brown ale base, but I would have preferred more bitterness, and a coffee flavor that was slightly more authentic.  We have really enjoyed some of the hoppier offerings from Saint Archer, but this one just misses.

   2.5 Toasts



   3 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


toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

William Shakespeare “Pour-trait”


Edgar Allan Poe “Pour-trait”

Poe was a master of macabre, but there was nothing ghastly about his love for beer.

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chambers of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies,
Come to life and fade away:
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

– Edgar Allan Poe


Hellion – Gigantic Brewing Company


8.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “dry-hopped Belgian-style golden ale” from the exciting Portland, Oregon brewers Gigantic pours a straw-like gold with a tight, bright white head.  It has the expected Belgian golden nose of strong grains, a little bit of barnyard floor, and some vague tropical notes.  The first swallow is rich with de-sweetened pineapple and papaya, building in candied flavor until subsiding into a wave of bitterness.  A nice, rum-like burn settles in on the long finish, along with some honeyed fruit, ginger root, and dry crackers.  Hellion is a very good beer, bringing a welcome earthy quality to this often overwhelmingly sweet style.

toasts-4   4 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts

19th Anniversary Ale – Great Divide Brewing Company

19th_GreatDivide10.2% ABV
Purchased at Best Damn Beer Shop in San Diego and poured into mugs.

Denver brewers Great Divide made this beer to celebrate their 19th anniversary, although their wares are still rarely if ever seen on Sacramento store shelves.  19th Anniversary Ale was “brewed with birch syrup and aged on birch chips”, and it pours a clear honey gold with a tight white head.  The nose is certainly unusual, boasting an indefinite sweetness that is hard to pin down, although honey, banana, graham crackers and green apples eventually come into focus.  This beer wallops the palette with desserts and tree branches on the first swallow, coming off like a wood-fired caramel apple.  Some wood chips and cracker-y spice linger on the tongue, finishing off a beer that is tasty and original, but a lot for the palette to handle.

toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts


toasts-3   3 Toasts

Coffee Ale – Boulevard Brewing Company


9.3% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($9.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This ale was brewed by Kansas City, Missouri-based Boulevard with coffee provided by their neighbors at The Roasterie.  The succinctly named Coffee Ale pours a raisin juice brown with a tight, light tan head, and an eye-opening nose of nutty black coffee and dark fruits.  There are also some berry notes inherent to African coffee, and overall it was a bold choice to make this Smokestack Series beer into an ale instead of a stout or porter.  The end result is fairly similar to a coffee-infused nut brown, but I liked how the floral and berry notes played off of the hops and biscuit-y malts.  It’s a lot like pairing a coffee and a flaky pastry up front, then chasing it with a coffee-and-cream candy on the finish.

toasts-4   4 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts

Oud Bruin – Grand Teton Brewing Company


6% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($10.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This anniversary-related re-brew from Victor, Idaho-based Grand Teton pours a ruby-tinged copper with a minute, off-white head.  Oud Bruin has an interesting and fairly inscrutable nose of wood, caramel, mixed berries, and pie crust.  The taste is richer than the aroma suggests, emphasizing bread and toffee flavors, and without any significant tart or fruity notes.   Some Belgian esters and a touch of hoppiness come in on the finish, but the most dominant flavor here is the caramel/toffee malt overtones, balanced out by buttery yeast.  I’m usually an enthusiastic fan of the Grand Teton Cellar Reserve series, but Oud Bruin is more curious than satisfying, and needed more carbonation to prevent its fairly neutral flavor profile.

toasts-3    3 Toasts


toasts-3    3 Toasts


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