Friday, April 29, 2011

Tuatara Bohemian Pilsner

You pretty much can't get any further from the Czech Republic than New Zealand, but today Beer! finds out that this doesn't stop the Kiwis from making a damn good pilsner:

Brewery: Tuatara Brewing Co.
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Style: Pilsner
Rating: A-

Today we cross the Pacific on our quest for great pilsners. Today’s tasting is from New Zealand’s Tuatara brewery. The Tuatara Bohemian Pilsner pours up a deep, hazy yellow-gold color with a frothy, white head. The nose has notes of herbs, apricot and lager malt.

On the palate there is a nice progression that starts with dry lager malt, progresses to a fruity hops note and heads back to dry maltiness paired with bitter hops. The malt flavor is crisp without any skunky Eurolageriness (yes, I just made that word up) going on. There is a lot going on with the hops. There are herbal hops notes with some spice, fleeting sweet fruit hops notes of nectarines and orange juice, and bitter hops that build to a moderate level without being overpowering. The Tuatara Bohemian Pilsner is medium-bodied and crisp. the finish has long dry maltiness paired perfectly with bitter and spicy hops.

This is the first beer I’ve tried from Tuatara and I am quite impressed. The Bohemian Pilsner is a bit on the hop-forward side for a typical pils, but the dry malt never gets lost and is a perfect match to the more assertive hops. While this isn’t a big, full-on Imperial Pilsner, there is some big flavor here. Tuatara has an excellent, well-balanced Pilsner on their hands. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate

Today, The Dark Chocolate Blog finds that you really do get what you pay for:


Manufacturer: Godiva
Rating: D

Today we are tasting a chocolate that is a bit more accessible than most of the others we typically review here on The Dark Chocolate Blog. Today we have the Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate bar. This is the 1.5 ounce bar you typically find at the cash register in book stores and the like. There is no cocoa percentage listed on the package. The bar itself has four rather thick squares embossed with a "G", and is nicely textured with crisp embossing. The bar is a deep mahogany/rosewood color. The snap is notably soft, especially for such a thick bar. The nose has a distinct coconut aroma.

On the palate there is a dominant, very sweet coconut flavor that really buries the chocolate flavor on this bar. There are some notes of chocolate milk and caramel, and loads of sweetness. Chewing the Godiva Solid Dark Chocolate hints at nuts and cedar before another big wave of coconut rolls in. The finish is overly sweet with notes of coconut milk and caramel.

I’ve had several good chocolates from Godiva before, so I was surprised at just how bad this chocolate was. The Solid Dark Chocolate bar was sickly sweet with overpowering coconut flavors, and not much chocolate flavor to speak of. Stay away from this one.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Magic Hat Demo Black IPA

Today Beer! reviews a Magical black IPA:

Brewery: Magic Hat Brewing Company
Location: South Burlington, VT
Style: Lager
Rating: A-

We interrupt our run of pilsner tastings for today with a Black IPA. Today we have the Magic Hat Demo IPA, one of their "IPA's on Tour" set. The Demo pours up a deep cola-black in color with a hint of amber. There is a bit of sediment in suspension as well. The head is mocha in color and frothy. On the nose there is a rich chocolaty porter aroma with a hint of fruity hops.

On the palate there is a slightly sweet mocha note up front paired with dark wheat toast. Bitter hops comes in a wave along with some fruity hops notes. As the hops fades there is a dryer toastiness with raisins and bittersweet chocolate. The Demo is medium-bodied, and feels right for an IPA. The finish has mocha notes, toast and some herbal and bitter hops as well.

I have yet to try a Black IPA I didn't like, and the Demo is no exception. I like the transition on the palate as the experiance goes from a sweeter porter to an IPA to a dryer porter, and finally it all blends together on the finish. There is a nice smokiness here, but it is not so overpowering to affect drinkability. Another highly recommended Black IPA.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Red Hook Rope Swing Summer Pilsner

Today on Beer! - when good Pilsners go bad:

Brewery: Red Hook Ale Brewery
Location: Portsmouth, NH
Style: Pilsner
Rating: C

Up for tasting today is the Rope Swing Summer Pilsner from Red Hook. The beer pours up a deep golden color with some haze and sediment, topped with a foamy white head. The nose has some rather shocking aromas of butter and yeastiness similar to a witbier.

The bizarreness continues on the palate. There is a bit of tartness, some mild butteriness, and a yeast note reminiscent of a Belgian white or abbey ale. Bitter hops build with time. There are some mineral notes here, as well as dry lager malt way in the background. The Rope Swing is light-medium bodied, with a dry mouthfeel. The finish has lingering yeast with dry malt and hops notes.

I can't help but wonder if something went wrong with the Rope Swing. The butter and yeasty notes are jarringly out of place in a pilsner. This really seems more like an abbey ale in flavor. The sediment really leads me to believe that this beer was contaminated somewhere along the line. Hopefully this only affected a small portion of the batch, as this is not the quality I expect from Red Hook.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Patric Rio Caribe Superior 70% Dark Chocolate

The Dark Chocolate Blog reviews another great bar from Patric Chocolates:

Manufacturer: Patric
Cocoa Content: 70%
Location: Venezuela
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A

Today we are tasting Patric's Rio Caribe Superior dark chocolate bar. This is a single-source bar made from cacao produced near Rio Caribe, Venezuela, a town referred to as "City of the Masters of Cacao". The bar is mahogany in color with orange and red highlights. The nose detects cocoa, espresso and dried fruit.

There is a rich chocolate note up front on the palate. Fruity acidity then builds. There are notes of stone fruit, with a very distinct cherry flavor which goes between bing and maraschinos, along with a bit of nectarine. Nutty notes of walnut and almonds are here along with pistachio. There is a sweet, latte-like creaminess as well. Chewing the Rio Caribe Superior leads to almonds, cherries and leather. The mouthfeel is smooth, thick and creamy. The sweet creaminess carries into the finish and leaves me with the impression of a pistachio sundae covered with chocolate and cherry syrup and sprinkled with nuts.

Color me impressed with the Patric Rio Caribe bar. There is a great, distinct cherry note here that plays well with the rich chocolate, as well as the supporting notes of sweetened coffee and nuts. The construction is perfect as well. This is really a fantastic chocolate that I highly recommend.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Pils

Today Beer! asks the age-old question, can bottled-beer flavor really be found in a can?

Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
Location: Lyons, CO
Style: Pilsner
Brewery Website
Rating: C+

There has been a small resurgence of canned beer in the craft beer community as of late. The question is whether this is merely a novelty or if these beers can really hold their own against their glassbound brethren. The Mama's Little Yella Pils comes in your standard-issue 12 ounce can. It pours up a deep yellow-gold color with some haze and a foamy white head. The nose detects wheat and lager notes on the malt side as well as some herbal and fruity hops notes.

On the palate there is an initial lager malt character that seems to be on the light side. The flavor seems a bit flat to me. There are wheat bread and malt syrup notes. This does seem to have a bit more sweetness than I'd expect from a lighter pilsner. Bitter hops do appear after after a few sips. There is a hint of herbal/floral hops and some fruit hops as well. Mama's Little Yella Pils is medium-bodied, but it does seem a little flat on the carbonation side. The finish has lingering grainy sweetness with faint bitter hops notes.

I really wanted Mama's Little Yella Pils to be good, but I am unfortunately rather unimpressed. This beer reminds me more of it's canned adjunct-lager brethren than a craft beer in a can. There is a bit of a grainy/corny sweetness that, coupled with the can-flatness, really reminded me a lot of the usual fare from Bud/Miller/Coors. The hops component was disappointingly mellow as well. This is definitely an upgrade over the usual mass-market lager, but not by enough for me to want to try it again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stoudt's Pils

Our first review from Stoudt's over at Beer!, and it's - you guessed it - a pilsner. Enjoy, I sure did:

Brewery: Stoudt's
Location: Adamstown, PA
Style: Pilsner
Brewery Website
Rating: A-

The pilsners keep rolling in with the spring. Today's beer tasting is Stoudt's Pils. The beer pours up straw-gold in color with a bubbly white head. The nose has lager malt with fruit and herbal hops notes.

On the palate the Stoudt's Pils has crisp lagery malt up front leading into some sweet notes and an apricot fruit note. Bitter hops build over a few sips and end up providing a nice counterpoint to the malt. Some raisin and wine notes sit in the background as well. The Stoudt's Pils is medium-bodied with some nice carbonation. The finish has lingering hops bitterness with toast, pretzels and a hint of sweet fruit.

The Stoudt's Pils has a good malt flavor paired with a nice hoppy kick. The touch of sweetness here may not be typical for a pilsner, but it leads to some nice complexity, especially given that this isn't a huge imperial pilsner. The Stoudt's Pils is definitely worth a taste.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Theo Madagascar 74% Dark Chocolate

The Dark Chocolate Blog reviews a Madagascan chocolate from the coolest Theo that is not a Huxtable:

Manufacturer: Theo
Cocoa Content: 74%
Location: Madagascar
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

Today's chocolate is a 74% cacao dark chocolate from Theo. This bar is made from Madagascan cacao beans. The bar is a light mahogany in color with some orange highlights, which is typical for Madagascan chocolate. The nose has woody cocoa aromas.

The first impression on the palate is chocolate with bright citrus notes. The acidity is immediately present, but it is not overpowering. Citrus notes of lemonade, fresh squeezed lime juice and orange juice are all present. Other fruit notes are blackberries and juicy red wine. Other flavor notes include vanilla and some woodiness. Chewing the Theo Madagascar highlights lemonade, cherries and brownie batter. The mouthfeel has some slight grit/graininess. There is a touch of cooling sensation as well. The finish has lemonade, marshmallow and oak.

Theo has a bar that really makes for a good reference for the typical Madagascan chocolate. The color and the citrus flavor are classic Madagascan characteristics. There is some nice fruitiness without ever losing the chocolate flavor. My only compalint is that the texture is a near miss. If you're starting to get into single origin chocolates, I highly recommend the Theo Madagascar as a reference for what good Madagascan chocolate brings to the table.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mikkeller Czechet Pilsner

Spring. Beer! Pilsner. Boom goes the dynamite.

Brewery: Mikkeller
Location: KĂžbenhavn, Denmark
Style: Pilsner
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Today we sample a Czech-style pilsner from Danish brewery Mikkeller. The Czechet Pilsner pours up a deep, golden yellow color with some haziness and a short white head. The nose detects winy lager notes, bread and highlights of both fruit and herbal hops.

The first impression on the palate is crisp lager malt with some fizz followed by fruity hops notes. The malt has notes of pizza dough and pasta. The hops have apricots and herbal notes that transition to a piny bite. The Czechet Pilsner has a light-medium mouthfeel with a fizzy tingle, making this beer crisp and refreshing. The finish fades rather quickly to a mild note, but sweet bread/cereal notes couples with fruity and bitter hops hang around softly for a while.

I really enjoyed the Mikkeller Pilsner. It has great balance. There is a nice lager malt with typical pils flavors, but not even a hint of skunkiness. This beer is nicely hopped without ever overpowering the malt. This is really a fantastic pilsner.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dogfish Head My Antonia

More pilsner love over at Beer! today. Here's the Dogfish Head My Antonia:

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Style: Pilsner
Brewery Website
Rating: B+

As my loyal readers know, pilsners are one of my favorite styles of beer. I was quite excited to see that Dogfish Head, one of my favorite breweries, recently released the My Antonia pilsner. It is not often that Dogfish Head produces a lager, so I was really interested in trying this out. The My Antonia pours up yellow-gold with a faint haze and a massive, white, clumpy foam head. The nose is almost all hops with citrus being the dominant note along with some herbal and floral aromas.

At first taste the hops really coat the tongue. There is a balance between citrusy West Coast hops and the herbal fruitiness of European noble hops, with some bitter resin at the end. The malt definitely takes a back seat to the hops. There are some lager notes here, but they are barely discernible. There is a slight sweetness that does pair well with the hoppiness. The mouthfeel is medium-heavy with clinging, syrupy hops. The finish has a complex balance of hops notes that linger with fading sweetness.

My overall impression of the Dogfish Head My Antonia is that it is fairly 1-dimensional. It would be nice if a bit more of the malt peeked through. This beer is a great display of hops, but it needs a little more Pils character from the malt. This is a good beer by anyone's standards, but we're all a bit spoiled by the folks from Dogfish Head. I was hoping for greatness and this falls a bit short for me.

The fruity citrus character of this beer makes it a natural pair for Madagascan chocolate. My choice was the Amano Madagascar and that worked well. Other good pairs would be the Michel Cluizel Mangaro Noir, the Patric Signature Blend, or for the real daring the Pralus Le 100%.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dagoba Eclipse 87% Dark Chocolate

The Dark Chocolate Blog takes on the Dagoba Eclipse. Do sparkly vampires make for good chocolate?

Manufacturer: Dagoba
Cocoa Content: 87%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B-

I never thought I'd be reviewing a chocolate bar named after a book in the Twilight series, but I when saw "Dagoba" and "87%" on the label I knew I couldn't leave Whole Foods without this chocolate. The Eclipse is mahogany in color with lots of clay-red coloration. The nose has a chocolate liqueur aroma with highlights of wood and herbs.

On the palate there is a bitter note up front that hints at espresso. The bitterness is rather sharp, although not necessarily out of place in an 87% cacao dark chocolate. There is some acidity here, but it sits in the background. There is a hint of orange-citrus notes along with some woodiness. There is also a notable, tannic red wine note. Chewing the Eclipse brings forward notes of oak, cherries and cinnamon. The mouthfeel is astringent with some cooling sensation. The melt is mostly smooth with just a faint hint of grit. The finish has espresso and wine with woody undertones.

Having recently tasted several excellent chocolates in the 99-100% cocoa range, I must admit I was a little disappointed in the Dagoba Eclipse bar. At 87%, the bitterness level seemed higher than some of the better 99-100% chocolates. There was quite a bit of astringency, reminiscent of a red wine with loads of tannins. I found this to be a bit much and it definitely seemed to throw the chocolate out of balance. What it boils down to is that the Eclipse meets my expectations of a chocolate bar named after a sparkly vampire movie, but I was hoping for much more from Dagoba.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Saranac Bohemian Pilsner

Spring is here, and the wave of pilsners are starting to roll in over at Beer! Check out the Saranac Bohemian Pilsner:

Brewery: The Matt Brewing Company
Location: Utica, NY
Style: Pilsner
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Spring is here, and to me there is nothing like a good pilsner on a sunny spring day. Today's beer tasting this the Saranac Bohemian Pilsner and this surely fits the bill as a good pilsner. The Bohemian Pilsner pours up a light gold in color with a fizzy white head and very fine, profusely effervescent carbonation. The nose detects lager malt, wheat/semolina grain and some fruity hops notes.

The first impression on the palate is that this is a mostly dry, European-style pils. There are malt notes of bread and pasta. A distinct mineral water flavor is present as well as some "Eurolager" notes. Hops are notable with both herbal and citrus aromatics along with a touch of piny bittering hops. The Bohemian Pilsner has a light, fizzy body that is quite refreshing. The finish has pasta with lingering hops and just a hint of sweetness.

Saranac has a fantastic pilsner on their hands here. This is a light, refreshing Euro-style pils that doesn't hide the hops. The Bohemian Pilsner is balanced, flavorful and refreshing. You can't ask for much more in a Pilsner.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gulden Draak Ale

Today Beer! slays a golden dragon. Check out their review of Gulden Draak:

Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
Location: Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A

In my glass today is the Gulden Draak Ale, one of Belgium's best-known dark ales. The beer pours up a hazy amber-mahogany in color with a foamy, light-tan head. The nose detects wine, mineral water and whole wheat flour.

On the palate there is some sweet cereal up front along with some malt syrup. The malt also gives notes of doughy bread as well as brown rice and rice candy. There is a yeast note typical to Belgian Ales, as well as some wininess. Hops are here and give both herbal and piny notes. There is also a note of stone fruit such as cherries and apricots. The Gulden Draak has a medium-heavy body with some slight syrupiness, plenty of carbonation and a bit of a warming sensation. The finish has lingering cereal sweetness and a bit of a tingle (from a combination of fizz and alcohol).

The Gulden Draak Ale is a great Belgian Ale that even those of you who aren't into Belgian-style beers will enjoy. There is just the right amount of residual sweetnesss here without becoming over-syrupy. This leads to some really nice fruity notes. The Gulden Draak is a well-balanced, complex beer that I highly recommend.