Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sierra Nevada XXX Jack & Ken’s Ale (Black Barleywine - 30th Anniversary)

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Style: Barleywine
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Today’s tasting is a Black Barleywine from Sierra Nevada that was brewed for their 30th anniversary. The Black Barleywine pours up an opaque ruby-black with a thick, dark-tan head. The nose is malty with notes of caramel and sherry.

On the palate there is a nice bitter malty/chocolate kick. Wine notes are present, along with sherry and caramel. There is an herbal/grassy hops note, but it is just an undertone to the malt. Hops bitterness starts at a moderate level and builds from there. The beer is pretty dry for a barleywine. The 30th Anniversary Black Barleywine is medium-bodied, and while it seems a bit light for a barleywine, it is full enough for this beer. The finish has cocoa and espresso notes paired with grassy and herbal hops.

The Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Black Barleywine is a unique take on the barleywine style. Much like a Black IPA, the roasted malt adds a unique layer of complexity that works well with the barleywine style. The cocoa and coffee notes add a nice spin on the typical barleywine style. If you can still find this in your area, it is well worth hunting down and stashing in your cellar.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ommegang BPA (Belgian-style Pale Ale)

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Location: Cooperstown, NY
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: B+

Today’s beer tasting is Ommegang’s BPA (Belgian Pale Ale). The Belgian Pale Ale pours up a deep gold in color with a slight haze. The head is huge, white, clumpy foam. The nose detects the telltale grapefruit of Cascade hops, along with some banana and typical Belgian yeast notes.

The palate initially finds a citrus hops note that then moves towards flavors of Belgian yeast (i.e., banana and clove). There is a light bread/pasta dough malt note as well. The bitterness is fairly mild when compared to the typical West-Coast American pale ale. There is some residual sweetness here as well. The Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale is medium-bodied and nicely carbonated. The finish sees hops bitterness paired with pasta dough malt and sweet yeasty esters.

The Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale is a well-executed cross between Belgian and American Pale Ale. The Belgian yeast really combines nicely with the citrusy west-coast hops here. This is a great beer to seek out if you’re looking for something a bit different to try. It also pairs fantastically with aged cheese. I paired this with a 3-year old gouda and the combination was fantastic.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dogfish Head Squall IPA

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Style: IPA
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Today we’re tasting the Squall IPA from Dogfish Head. The Squall IPA pours up a golden amber in color with little head to speak of. The nose finds a big fresh hops note of grapefruit and citrus. There is also a faint malty bread note.

Up front there are grassy and citrus hops on the palate. Bitterness starts out at a moderate level and slowly builds. Piny and spicy hops notes come in a bit later. There is also a faint residual sweetness to fill things out a bit. The Squall IPA has a medium-heavy body that feels pretty full. The finish sees some sweetness with citrus and piny hops notes and a moderate bitter hops kick.

Dogfish Head has never let me down with an IPA, and they continue their run with their Squall IPA. This is an excellent, balanced Imperial IPA. There is a great amount of flavor complexity to the hops, which is to be expected since the beer is dry-hopped with about a half-dozen different hops varieties. If DFH ever brews this again, snap some up as soon as you see it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA

Brewery: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Location: Portland, OR
Style: Black IPA
Brewery Website
Rating: A+

Today we’re reviewing the Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA. The Pitch Black IPA pours up a deep brown, bordering on black, color with a light tan, frothy head. The nose picks up lots of citrusy, west-coast hops. Grapefruit and some apricot are most notable. There are also some very faint roasted aromas.

On the palate the fruity hops lead off with lemonade and apricot notes. These notes fade slowly into roasted malt notes of dark wheat toast. Bitter hops then build back in with some espresso. There is also a faint residual sweetness as well. With a medium-heavy body, the Pitch Black IPA is on the fuller side, but it is still plenty drinkable. The finish sees fruity hops dancing back-and-forth with some lightly sweetened coffee.

In continuing with the “I haven’t tasted a Black IPA I didn’t like” theme, the Pitch Black IPA is just incredible. There is a fantastic flavor complexity here. The flavors are literally dancing back and forth between malt and hops. This beer is very well-balanced between malt and hops, and all the flavors really meld well together in the Pitch Black IPA. There is also a nice hint of residual sweetness here that really makes all the other flavors “pop”. Widmer Bros have nailed it with their Black IPA, this is just a fantastic beer.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale

Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery
Location: Alva, Scotland
Style: Porter
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Today's tasting is Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland. This porter pours up an opaque black color with a brown head the color of hot cocoa. The nose finds roasted and toasted malt notes, cocoa and a hint of herbal hops.

While there are no smoked malts used in this beer, my palate is first left with the impression of a fine Islay scotch, finding peat malt, iodine and bacon notes. The dark roasted malt flavor has a big cocoa note. There are herbal and spicy hop notes with a moderate kick, but not enough to overtake the malt. There is also a hint of juiciness that zips by. Old Engine Oil has a medium-heavy body, but is still quaffable for a porter. The finish finds more roasted malt notes with a hint of hops, along with some Scotch notes in the background.

The Harviestoun Old Engine Oil is a very drinkable porter with some complex roasted malt flavors. My palate finds some notes that remind me of an Islay scotch. Plus there are some great roasted chocolate notes here as well. All of this is well-balanced by some nice herbal hops. This is one of the best British porters out there and is well worth seeking out.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Otter Creek Winter Red Ale

Brewery: Otter Creek Brewing
Location: Middlebury, VT
Style: Amber
Brewery Website
Rating: B

I'm a little late in getting this review posted, but our tasting for today is the Otter Creek Winter Red Ale. The Winter Red pours up a deep amber-chestnut in color with a short, off-white head. The nose finds citrus and herbal hops notes, fresh-baked bread and some malt syrup.

The palate finds a flavor progression that starts with fruity hops, moves to a sharp steely/mineral note and ends up at an oily, bitter hops bite with some pine resin. There is a dry, toasted malt note in the background with a hint of residual sweetness. The Otter Creek Winter Red has a medium-heavy body (a bit heavier than your typical amber) with some resiny astringency. The finish sees the strong mineral bite clinging on with hints of pine, pretzel and malt syrup.

The Otter Creek Winter Red Ale drinks like an amped-up version of their flagship Copper Ale, but it seems a bit out of balance to me. The hops here is all bite with not as much flavor as I would have liked, and the mineral note here is overpowering. The malt ends up being drowned out under all of this. I understand what Otter Creek is trying to do here by having a big amber for their winter seasonal, I just would have liked to see more balance.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Theakston Old Peculier

Brewery: T & R Theakston Ltd.
Location: Yorkshire, England
Style: Old Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A+

Today we're finally reviewing a beer that I've been trying to track down since I started this blog, Theakston's Old Peculier. This is one of my all-time favorite beers, but it has been a bit harder to track down in my area as of late. Old Peculier pours up a deep ruby color with some chestnut-brown tones and a short, tan head. The nose detects rich maltiness with faint notes of caramel, sweetness and roasted malt. There is also a hint of hops with floral, herbal and spicy notes.

The palate first picks up roasted malt notes of dark pretzels. There is a fleeting malt syrup/molasses note that vanishes rather quickly. There is a touch of herbal hops here, but just enough to fill out the malt. A touch of mineral water is notable as well. A hint of juiciness in the middle rounds out the flavor nicely and keeps things from being too dry. The Old Peculier has a medium-heavy body. It is rich and full without being overly heavy. The mouthfeel also has a light fizz of carbonation and a touch of juiciness. The finish finds bready malt notes with spicy and herbal hops way in the background.

Theakston's Old Peculier is a true classic. This is an amazingly complex and flavorful beer, that is still fairly easy to drink. It is quite malt-forward, but with enough hops to balance things out. At 5.7% ABV, Old Peculier drinks like a scaled-down English barleywine. Which is a good thing, because it is really hard to stop at just one of these. If you're a beer lover and haven't had a chance to experience Old Peculier, then add this to your bucket list.