Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale

Brewery: Tröegs Brewing Company

Location: Harrisburg, PA
Style: Amber
Brewery Website
Rating: B+

Today's beer tasting goes out to all my friends in the Harrisburg area. On deck today is the HopBack Amber from Tröegs (umlaut will be omitted henceforth for ease of typing...). The HopBack Amber is a golden/ruddy brown in color with a short, off-white head. Lots of fine bubbles can be seen rising in the glass. The nose detects sweetness along with some citrus that combine to give the impression of lemonade. A faint aroma of wheat bread sits in the background.

On the palate there is a citrus hops note up front. Wheat bread and pretzel maltiness build. The hops give a moderate level of bitterness and more of the lemonade flavor to match the nose. There is some notable sweetness here as well. The HopBack Amber has a medium body with a nice carbonated fizziness. The finish is fairly short with more pretzel and lemonade, along with a light bitter undertone.

Troegs HopBack is a nice hoppy amber with a solid maltiness. The only thing I'd change is to roll back the sweetness here which I think is a bit too much. The Troegs Hop Back is a very good drinkable amber, but there is definitely the potential for excellence here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie 86% Cacao

Manufacturer: Ghirardelli
Cocoa Content: 86%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: B-

Today's tasting is Ghirardelli's dark chocolate bar with the highest percentage cocoa, the Midnight Reverie. The Midnight Reverie is deep ebony in color with some reddish-orange highlights. The initial flavor impression is unsweetened cocoa. There is notable espresso-like bitterness. Acidity starts out mild and builds to a moderate level with notes of orange, sour cherry, blackberry and citrusy hop flowers. There are some herbal and earthy undertones as well.

Chewing the Midnight Reverie brings out notes of citrus along with faint spice and earthy notes. The Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel that is slightly drying. The finish has espresso, citrus and herbal notes.

The Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie is a decent chocolate with some nice flavor. It is somewhat lacking in the complexity department, and it is missing the powerful chocolate flavor I would expect from a chocolate in the 80%+ cocoa range.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pralus Madagascar

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

Today's tasting is the Pralus Madagascar dark chocolate bar. The chocolate is deep ebony in color with red undertones. On the palate there is a rich cocoa flavor up front. A lively acidity highlights red fruit notes and fresh bing cherries. There is a sweet herbal note of fresh mint and a faint roasted peanut undertone.

Chewing the Pralus Madagascar gives vanilla, mint, sweet cherries and tobacco flavors. The Madagascar has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. The finish fades with cocoa and maraschino cherries. This is another great chocolate from Pralus's "Pyramide des Tropiques" collection. The acid and fruit notes plays very well with the sweet minty undertones in this chocolate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Belhaven Scottish Ale

Brewery: Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.
Location: Dunbar, Scotland
Style: Scottish Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A-

In my glass today is Belhaven Scottish Ale. The Belhaven is a deep amber-brown in color. It pours with a short, off-white, bubbly head. On the nose there is a mineral water characteristic along with dark wheat toast. Faint aromas of wood and wine hang in the background.

On the palate there is a distinct flavor of dark pretzels up front. A pleasing near-burnt wheat toast character from the malt takes center stage. There is a mild, herbal hop bite that plays a complimentary role. Faint wine notes and slight residual sweetness round out the flavor. The Belhaven Scottish Ale is medium bodied with a juicy mouthfeel. The finish has sweet juiciness over dark toast.

The Belhaven Scottish Ale has some great, deep toasted malt flavor that is balanced nicely by a juicy mouthfeel with supporting hops. The result is a beer with rich, distinct maltiness that is very drinkable and not overpoweringly heavy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Equal Exchange Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate (80% Cocoa)

Manufacturer: Equal Exchange
Cocoa Content: 80%
Manufacturer Website
Rating: A

After a bit of a hiatus, we should be back on track with a bit more regularity in our postings here. We're kicking things off with a fantastic chocolate from Equal Exchange. This is an 80% dark chocolate bar from Panama. The bar is a deep ebony in color with ruby highlights.

The Equal Exchange bar leads with a rich, deep cocoa note, followed by a pleasant bitter kick. The acidity slowly builds to a moderate level with currant and blackberry notes. There is a touch of sea salt and roasted peanuts along with floral highlights and a black pepper spice. The finish has espresso with spice and light roasted undertones. Chewing the chocolate opens up flavors of vanilla, bell pepper, tobacco and a flavor that reminds me of strawberry-flavored licorice. The texture is thick and mostly smooth with some barely perceptable coarseness.

Equal exchange has a great thing going here with this 80% chocolate bar. There is a rich chocolate flavor with plenty of complexity and a nice spice note. This is by far one of the most "snackable" dark chocolates up in the 80% cacao range I've ever had. Highly recommended.