Monday, July 13, 2009

Beer reviews, round two

Hey guys, sorry its been a while. Was going to try and make the beer review thing a bi-weekly thing, but I just don't drink enough beer for that, lol. Still, figure we should have some beer reviews, whenever I get around to drinking some, that is!

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout:

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass

Appearance: Opaque Ebony with thick tan head over 1". Head recedes quickly with little to no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Dark chocolate, tea, small scent of tropical fruit.

Taste: deeply toasty malt, butterscotch, cola, and a little coffee. Finishes with acidity.

Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy, carbonation very weak.

Smells great, but the taste is kind of unremarkable. For the money, there are better Imperial Stouts available to be had. It would go well with something with dark chocolate. For some reason, I seemed to like this more at Brewfest, but when I settled down and took a whole glass slowly, it didn't really shine through :(

Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier:

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Cloudy amber. Head a creamy white, 1". Receded with no lacing.

Smell: Blackberries all over the place. There's nothing else at all.

Taste: Berries immediately, melting into a nondescript malt, petering off after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Light weight, light carbonation. Pretty average Hefeweizen feel.

I really am not impressed by this. It comes on way too strong with blackberries, and there's nothing else expressed in the character. Even then, you'd think they'd be kind enough to finish astringent or with some acidity or both. Blackberries do that, so why not this beer? Instead, it sort of loses its flavor after the swallow, almost like the taste going out of a piece of gum. Avoid this beer, it's not good. If you're gung ho for a fruit essence beer, you can do a lot better.

Duvel Belgian Ale:

Poured from 11.2 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Very pale blonde color and clear. Beautiful bubbles constantly rise throughout. Head is over 1.5", creamy and frothy white. The head recedes gently, leaving heavy lacing on the glass.

Smell: Champagne grapes and alcohol esters

Taste: Dry champagne immediately on hitting the tongue, then releases a bouquet of perfumed, but not obnoxious hops. Hints of apple and buttery malts upon swallowing, but cleaned up immediately by the hops, leaving a completely cleansed palate.

Mouthfeel: This is where Duvel leaves most beers in the dust. It completely transforms upon hitting your tongue, to the point where you're not sure which part is liquid and which part is foamy deliciousness. So much of the flavor develops in the rich carbonation that you really should drink it in a glass that's good at preserving those bubbles. Once they're depleted, the mouthfeel, and therefore, the taste change. The way that the liquid transmutes into airy foam also has a way of deceiving your tongue into thinking it's a vastly lighter beer than it is. One of the best mouthfeel experiences I've had.

It's a good clean, dry beer with outstanding carbonation and very light weight. I'd be partial to having this with some delicate seafood or anything with simple and seasonal vegetables. To give it a wine analog, I'd think that anything you could drink an Alsacian Riesling with, you could also drink with Duvel. Fantastic beer.

He'Brew Messiah Bold American Brown Ale:

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Opaque dark chocolate body. Head about 1", almond colored. Recedes quickly with little lace.

Smell: A little cherry, vanilla, cola, and oak. Overall muted.

Taste: Deep toastiness, chestnuts, oak. Hops roll to the back of the tongue and it finishes bitter, with some lingering aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, light carbonation. Pretty average compared to other brown ales.

It's a bit earthier than average brown ales, and really doesn't express much caramel or malt, letting the hops at the end do the talking. If you're looking for a really well-made brown it's probably not it, but it's not disagreeable either, and is easily drinkable. I'd pair it with maybe some roast beef or sausage, something with a bit of heft to it. Would do alright with barbecue, and let the hops clean up any sweetness in the sauce.

Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale:

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Nearly opaque, deep chocolate body. Head over 1", well tanned. Heavy lacing retained on the glass as it slowly recedes.

Smell: Butter, a little woodsmoke, cherries, some esters

Taste: Starts toasty initially with good nutty flavor, then becomes incredibly rich, with butter and maple taste coming through and dominating the malt. No presence of hops, just persistent richness. Finishes as it begins on toasted malts, with a lingering crusty bread taste on the tongue. Doesn't fully get rid of the sweet maple, and it mingles and gets a little cloying, with a little acidity.

Mouthfeel: Gentle carbonation, milky weight. Sticks to the tongue after swallowing. Typical of the style to a large degree.

It's completely lacking in subtlety so it's probably not the brown ale you pick if you want a magic carpet ride. Still I can't help liking it. It's heavy handed, juvenile, boistrous, and delicious. I'd totally want this with dessert. A pecan pie ala mode or maybe ice cream with dulce de leche, see where I'm going? The coup de grace would be flapjacks, but that's obvious when you taste it and it feels like you're kissing Mrs. Butterworth. If you want a better crafted brown, Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan or Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar are better quality, but for some reason this is just as fun.

Anchor Breweries Old Foghorn Barleywine Ale:

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Deep ruby, translucent body. Head over 1", creamy, off white. Receded gradually with very slight lace.

Smell: Fragrant hops, oak, alcohol esters, orange zest

Taste: Citrus fruits at first, scented with coriander and lavender. Hops are persistent from beginning to end, very fragrant, but never dominating. Doesn't quite end clean, acidity lingers a little after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Gentle carbonation, and a little more heft than the light flavors would suggest.

First barley wine I've had, and if this is typical of them, I hope I have more! Hops complement the citrus, which is tough for some beers to do. Hops either come up way too strong in most, or are dull and get washed out. There's no bumps on the road, so you get to enjoy both of them. I'd love to grill up some fish like maybe salmon and have it with this one. I bet a good baked chicken or turkey with some fresh green beans or spring veggies would be great.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock:

Poured from 11.2 ounce bottle into pint glass:

Appearance: Nearly opaque mahogany with a nearly 2" head of chestnut foam. Receded gradually with almost no lace.

Smell: Cocoa, cherries, tobacco

Taste: Very rich toasted malts, creamy chocolate sweetness. Finishes with a wash of smoky flavor and lingers a while on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Rich and milky. Carbonation is very gentle and doesn't disrupt the comforting flavor.

Certainly the best bock I've tasted so far. It's a very rich and filling beer, but one that's easy to please. If you could make room for it, it would probably pair a bowl of chili or even gumbo and taste fantastic.

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