Monday, July 26, 2010

Newport Storm Cyclone Series "Neo" Cascade Pale Ale

Brewery: Coastal Extreme Brewing Co.
Location:Newport. RI
Style:Pale Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A

Up for review today is the "Neo" from Newport Storm's Cyclone series of limited release beers. The Neo is deep, ruddy-gold in color with a short, white, bubbly head. The nose has a notable citrus character with aromas of lemonade and grapefruit. Also present on the nose are some pretzel notes.

The Newport Storm Neo's flavor profile is juicy citrus over bready malt flavors. Bitter hops fades in with time. There is a slight sweetness that holds everything in balance. The bitter hops meshes nicely with the toasted pretzel character of the malt. There is plenty of the signature grapefruit citrus of Cascade hops here, but it doesn't overpower. The finish is fairly long with bitterness, citrus and wheat toast. The Neo has a medium body that holds up well to the big flavors here.

Newport Storm really does a good job with this one. The Neo highlights the Cascade hop character well without being overbearing. There is a nice balance here for a hoppy pale ale and the malt really holds up well to the citrus character of the Cascades.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shipyard IPA

Brewery: Shipyard Brewing Co.
Location: Portland, ME
Style: IPA
Brewery Website
Rating: A-

Up for review today is the Shipyard IPA, which is a British-style IPA brewed with Fuggles hops. The Shipyard IPA is deep gold in color with fine carbonation. It pours with an off-white, clumpy head and leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass. The nose has citrus and grassy/herbal notes similar to a Fume Blanc, as well as notes of fresh bread.

The Shipyard IPA leads with herbal hops notes moving into bready malt and finally into a bit of "Eurolager" notes as the flavor develops. The flavor of salted pretzels is notable as well. There is a mild acidity leading to some juiciness. Hop resin notes lead to a moderate, balanced bitterness. There is an interesting savory character here as well. The finish is a slow fade of juiciness and pretzel malt along with herbal and bitter hops. The Shipyard IPA has a medium body as well as a crisp, almost tingly, carbonated fizz.

Shipyard has a really nice IPA on their hands here. The choice of Fuggles hops really sets this apart from the crowd of IPAs. The Shipyard IPA really has a unique and enjoyable flavor profile that makes this beer well worth checking out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lake Champlain African Blend 80% Cocoa Dark Chocolate

Manufacturer: Lake Champlain Chocolates
Cocoa Content: 80%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B+

Today's tasting is a dark chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates. Their Select Origin African Blend contains cocoa from Tanzania, Ghana and Sao Thome. The African Blend dark chocolate bar is ebony in color with a hint of purple. The initial flavor is a bitter espresso. Acidity builds to a mild-moderate level with blackberry and cherry fruit notes. A wealth of complex flavors make their presence known ranging from peanuts to floral notes to plantains and even edamame.

Chewing the Lake Champlain African Blend bar opens up sweet fruit notes of banana and ripe kiwifruit. The finish has nuttiness, some herbal notes and faint black coffee. The African Blend is thick and creamy in texture, although there is some noticable grittiness.

The Lake Champlain African Blend is a well-balanced dark chocolate with some nice flavor complexity. While I did have some issues with the texture here, this is still a really good dark chocolate that is worth a try.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pralus Ghana

Manufacturer: Pralus
Cocoa Content: 75%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A

Up for tasting today is another selection from Pralus's "Pyramide des Tropiques". Today's selection is a dark chocolate whose cocoa comes from the West African country of Ghana. The Pralus Ghana is deep ebony purple with ruby highlights. A pleasant bitter cocoa presents itself to the palate first. Powerful floral aromatic flavors show up next. The acidity level is on the mild-to-moderate side. Hazelnut and pomegranate flavors are here along with toasted notes and some roasted peanuts.

Chewing the Pralus Ghana dark chocolate releases more complex aromatic flavors including fresh cut grass, floral notes, tobacco and cherries. The finish has dark roast coffee along with some tobacco notes. The mouthfeel has a nice creaminess to it.

The Pralus Ghana is my favorite so far as I work through their "Pyramide des Tropiques" chocolate sampler. There is a nice bitter kick that is well-balanced with the other flavor characteristics. The flavor alternates between roasted notes and aromatics without ever clashing or producing an off-taste. The Pralus Ghana is a great, complex dark chocolate that I recommend highly.

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat

Brewery: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Location: Chippewa Falls, WI
Style: Witbier
Brewery Website
Rating: B

Today's beer up for review is the Sunset Wheat from Leinenkugel. The Sunset Wheat is a hazy golden-amber in color with some large clumps of sediment visible in the glass and a short white head. The nose is loaded with sweet fruit. Aromas of blueberry, orange and honey are present with a faint wheaty malt note in the background.

On the palate, the Sunset Wheat leads with a distinctive sweet berry note. As the initial sweet fruit fades wheat malt becomes detectable along with a yeast note. The finish continues with fruity sweetness similar to "Fruit Loops" cereal, along with some wheat bread. The Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat has a light, crisp, fizzy body that is the perfect match to it's flavor.

The Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat is a perfect "beginner beer". This is an easy-drinking, straightforward beer. It is light and sweet (without being syrupy) with a nice fruity kick. This is a great choice for the wine cooler crowd, and a good choice for the more initiated of us when you want something on the lighter side.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Otter Creek Pale Ale

Brewery: Otter Creek Brewing
Location: Middlebury, VT
Style: Pale Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A

In my glass today we have the Otter Creek Pale Ale. This has long been one of my all-time favorite beers for the summertime, and it's long overdue for a critical tasting.

The Otter Creek Pale Ale is golden amber with a faint haziness. The head is pale tan in color and leaves a nice trail of lace behind it. The nose detects a citrusy hops note along with some pretzels and a slight sweetness.

On the palate there is a sweet, bready malt flavor up front. A bitter hops character builds slowly. There are some nice hops flavors of citrus and herbs. There is a bit of a mineral water character as well. The finish has bitter hops, some herbs and pretzel notes. The finish fades a little bit quicker than the typical hoppy pale ale. The Otter Creek Pale Ale has a crisp, medium body that is smooth, but holds up well to the hops.

The Otter Creek Pale Ale has the perfect balance for a summer session pale ale. There is a nice hoppy "oomph" here without being overpowering. The Otter Creek Pale Ale is flavorful, yet crisp and smooth at the same time. Along with the Smuttynose Pale Ale and the Long Trail Pale Ale, this is one of the best American Pale Ales coming out of New England right now. Highly recommended.