Monday, May 30, 2011

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Today, Beer! sees whether Pabst Blue Ribbon lives up to the hipster hype, or if it's just trailer-park swill:

Brewery: Pabst Brewing Company
Location: Woodridge, Il
Style: Lager
Rating: B-

In recent years, Pabst Blue Ribbon has been seeing a bit of a resurgence in a trendy counterculture "trailer park chic" sort of way. The question is, does PBR live up to the hype, or is it just another mass-market lager with little redeeming quality? Let's taste and see. 

Pabst Blue Ribbon pours from my brown-bottle longneck a clear, straw-gold in color with a white foamy head. The nose detects some grassiness, lager malt notes and a bit of juicy white wine.

On the palate the initial impression is that of crisp, smooth malt with wheat bread undertones. There is a bit of a calcium/lime mineral note, as well as some straw. Hops are fleeting and have an overall grassy flavor. PBR has a light body with decent carbonation. The finish is very short with a malt note that hints at pita bread.

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a prototypical mass-market American lager in that it is smooth and easy-drinking. The flavor does fade very quickly (too much for my liking). What is notable is the lack of any of the "off" flavors I typically notice with the usual Bud/Miller/Coors-style lagers. While it may not fully live up to the renewed hype surrounding it, PBR is still one of the best mass-market/adjunct lagers out there. I have no qualms serving it to guests, and it is always welcome in my fridge.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Duvel Tripel Hop

Today, Beer! reviews the sensational Duvel Tripel Hop: 

Brewery: Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat
Location: Breendonk-Puurs, Belgium
Style: IPA
Rating: A+

Today we bring you something special, the Duvel Tripel Hop. Duvel is widely regarded as one of Belgium's best breweries, and the Tripel Hop is rather novel for a Belgian brewery. This beer is an infusion of a distinctly American-style hop-forward IPA with a traditional Belgian-style ale. The Tripel Hop is cloudy, honey-gold in color with a white, clumpy-foam head. The nose has fruity/citrus and spicy hops along with a background note of yeast.

On the palate there is a nice spicy (black pepper) hops note. The yeast and malt lead to some cherry and wine notes. Citrus/grapefruit hops make themselves known. The bitter hops show up eventually, but take a while to shine through the juicy malt. There is also some woodiness and a hint of sweetness. The Duvel Tripel Hop has a medium-heavy body and is on the juicy side. The finish has citrus and spice along with lingering juicy notes.

When a brewery the caliber of Duvel takes on a beer such as this, good things almost always happen. The Tripel Hop is no exception. This is a fantastic combination of IPA-meets-tripel, and Belgium-meets-US craft brew. The end result is the best of both worlds. This beer is juicy, rich and loaded with complex hops flavors and aromas. Well worth every penny, this is truly an exceptional beer.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blue Point Spring Fling Ale

Beer! takes a trip to Long Island for a taste of the Blue Point Spring Fling Ale:

Brewery: Blue Point Brewing Company
Location: Patchogue, NY
Style: Alt
Rating: B+

We're following up our review of the excellent Otter Creek Copper Ale with Blue Point's own copper ale (and spring seasonal), the Spring Fling Ale. The Spring Fling Ale pours up a clear amber-copper in color with a hint of gold, paired with a foamy white head. The nose finds spicy and piny hops tinged with citrus and steel.

The palate first finds the clinging oiliness of hops, followed by malty notes of dark pretzels. The overall hops flavor isn't quite as prominent as the nose. Oily pine resin and spice are here, but there isn't much fruit on the palate. The hops bite may not be front and center on this beer, but it is still quite sharp. There is a mineral note of copper/steel as well. The Spring Fling Ale is medium-bodied and a bit oily. The finish has resinous hope, a hint of fruit and dry malt undertones.

Blue Point has a nice, well-rounded copper ale in their Spring Fling Ale. The hops give it a nice kick and spiciness, to match the dry malt. This is well worth a taste if you run across it this spring.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Domori Chuao Dark Chocolate

Today, The Dark Chocolate Blog tastes Domori's take on the legendary Chuao:

Manufacturer: Domori
Cocoa Content: 70%
Location: Venezuela
Rating: A

Today I have the pleasure of tasting Domori's Chuao dark chocolate bar. Legend has it that the cocoa from the Chuao region was once reserved solely for kings. It's not hard to see why. Domori's Chuao bar looks to be an equal mix of clay-red and light brown in color. The nose has rich chocolate aromas with honey and caramel.

On the palate the initial impression is deep chocolate with strawberry jam. There are highlights of almond aromatics here. Along with the strawberry jam, a fruit note of gooseberries is here as well. Complex sweet notes of honey and caramel are notable, along with coffee, mint and a faint butterscotch note. Chewing the Domori Chuao brings forward notes of almond extract, raspberries, pomegranate and caramel. The bar melts with a superb thick, coating mouthfeel. The finish has butterscotch, caramel and jammy notes all fading in harmony.

Domori has once again impressed me with their take on the legendary Chuao cacao. The end result is wonderfully complex, but unmistakably Domori. The finish and complex caramel and honey undertones are reminiscent of a milk chocolate, while the jamminess is signature Domori. This is great stuff and well worth searching out if you don't have easy access to it in your local area.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Otter Creek Copper Ale

Today, Beer! cracks into Otter Creek's flagship beer, their Copper Ale:

BreweryOtter Creek Brewing
LocationMiddlebury, VT

Today's tasting is generally considered the flagship beer from Otter Creek, their Copper Ale. True to its name, the Copper Ale pours up copper-amber in color with an off-white, clumpy foam head. The nose has citrus/grapefruit hops notes paired with a pretzely malt aroma.

The overall impression on the palate is a rich, full maltiness paired with crisp hops. The malt has bready & pretzel notes. Hops have a oily bitter note that coat the tongue with a piny note that hints at copper. There is a bit of citrus fruitiness as well. The Otter Creek Copper Ale has a medium body with some oiliness. The finish has slight residual sweetness with bready malt and lingering hops.

The Copper Ale is Otter Creek's flagship beer for good reason. The Copper Ale has rich, full malt with nice, dry/piny bitter hops as a compliment. I've found that the Copper Ale is even better on tap, but draft quality can be approximated by using a good, firm pour from bottle. If you've never tried the Otter Creek Copper Ale, you're missing out. If you're familiar with the Copper Ale, maybe it's time to grab a sixer and revisit an old friend.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Radeberger Pilsner

Beer! is finally wrapping up our spring Pilsner tastings with one last stop in Germany:

Brewery: Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei
Location: Radeberg, Germany
Style: Pilsner
Rating: B-

Our next stop on our German Pilsner quest is Radeberger. The Radeberger Pilsner pours up straw yellow with a hint of gold. A firm pour ends up with a thick, clumpy white head. The nose is rather light. There are some lager malt aromas along with some floral notes (jasmine comes to mind).

The first taste finds a light, clean lager malt. It takes a while, but some bitter hops do show up at the party after a bit. There is a dry malt flavor of pasta dough with some spice and bitter hops notes. The Radeberger Pilsner is light bodied with plenty of carbonation. The finish finds more dry malt taking on a saltine character along with some lingering spicy hop bitterness.

The Radeberger Pilsner is very clean and crisp, with none of the off-flavors found in some Euro Pils (mainly the green-bottle variety). There is a decent amount of hops once you wade in. But for my tastes, this is just too light in flavor. If you’re a light beer drinker, then this may be a good introduction beer. Otherwise, I’ll be reaching for something with a bit more flavor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Republica Del Cacao El Oro 67% Dark Chocolate

April showers bring May flowers. The Dark Chocolate Blog gets in touch with the floral side of dark chocolate:

Manufacturer: Republica Del Cacao
Cocoa Content: 67%
Location: Ecuador
Rating: B+

On deck today is another chocolate from Ecuadorean bean-to-bar chocolate maker Republica del Cacao. The El Oro is a deep mahogany-red in color. The nose has hazelnut/walnut notes along with floral (jasmine) notes.

On the palate I first pick up orange juice flavors. Next come mint and sweet woody spice of cinnamon. The sweet spice turns to cardamom which becomes a full-blown floral/perfume note. The acidity level is on the mild side with some banana showing through. Chewing the El Oro brings forward notes of cardamom, cookie dough and blueberries. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and just slightly course. The finish has sweet notes and floral aromatics. Nuttiness creeps in as the floral notes fade.

Republica del Cacao has quite a unique chocolate here in the El Oro. It is a bit too much on the floral side for my tastes, but this is a true showcase of someplace unexpected that you can take a dark chocolate. Well worth a try.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Paulaner Premium Pils

More pilsner lovin' over at Beer!:

Brewery: Paulaner Brauerei
Location: München, Germany
Style: Pilsner
Rating: B

We continue the pilsner hunt in Germany. Today's find is the Paulaner Premium Pils. Paulaner's offering pours up golden yellow with barely any haze and lots of carbonation. The head is bubbly white and fades fast. The nose has wheaty malt, dry white wine and straw.

The palate leads with a dry lager maltiness. There is a touch of acidity and juiciness that hints at a dry white wine. There is also some lightly toasted white bread and a touch of hops spice. The Paulaner Premium Pils has a light-medium body and is well carbonated. The finish has dry malt notes with a faint hoppy bite.

Paulaner's Premium Pils is a pretty good pilsner. It is slightly more fully-flavored than the typical Euro-pils. I appreciate the choice of a brown bottle, as there is no skunkiness to speak of. Paulaner's Premium Pils is dry and refreshing. It is an excellent choice for green bottle fans looking for a step up in flavor.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Einbecker Brauherren Pils

More German. More Pilsner. More Beer!:

Brewery: Einbecker Brauhaus AG
Location: Einbeck, Germany
Style: Pilsner
Rating: B

Next up from Germany is the Einbecker Brauherren Pils. The Einbecker Pils is clear, straw-yellow in color. An aggressive pour yields a clumpy white head. The nose has a distinct green-bottle skunkiness, along with some dry pasta and herbal hops.

The palate finds less skunkiness than the nose (thankfully). There is a dry lager malt that has pasta dough and grainy components. There is a nice bitter kick on the back end that shows up after a sip or two. The Einbecker Pils has a light, smooth body. The finish has more pasta dough with a lingering hop bite.

The Einbecher Brauherren Pils is exactly what I'd expect Heineken to taste like if it had a hoppy kick. It's a shame that it comes in a green bottle, because the skunkiness really does a number on this one. I'd love to try this on draft, because the potential is really there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ikea Choklad Mörk

The Dark Chocolate Blog reviews Ikea Food's Choklad Mörk, which, appropriately enough, rhymes with "Börk Börk Börk!":

Manufacturer: Ikea Foods
Cocoa Content: 60%
Rating: B

During a recent trip to Ikea, I saw their private label dark chocolate bar by the register and had to give it a try. The bar is labeled as minimum 60% cocoa and is made in Germany for Ikea Food. The bar itself is dark purplish-brown, near ebony in color. The nose detects sweet cocoa with some walnuts.

The main flavor impression on the palate is a roasted, nutty chocolate note. There are sweet notes of caramel and a liqueur note that reminds me a bit of Kahlua. Other sweet notes are sweetened french toast and cinnamon. Coffee and walnut flavors are here as well. Chewing the Choklad Mörk opens up flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and walnuts. The melt is smooth and thick, but I did notice a few crunchy crystals. The finish is fairly long and has lingering roast notes with sweetness and caramel.

Ikea's Choklad Mörk is a decent dark chocolate for a private label. At 60% cacao, it did seem a bit sweet to me. I found that some flavor is buried behind the sweetness. The roast on this bar was very nice. I think on the lower percentage chocolates the roast component really plays well with the extra sweetness. While this isn't the most complex chocolate, the Choklad Mörk is worth a taste next time you find yourself in Ikea.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jever Pilsner

It was only a matter of time before this spring's pilsner tastings brought Beer! to Germany. Check out the first of many German pils reviews:

Brewery: Jever
Location: Jever, Germany
Style: Pilsner
Rating: A-

Our spring pilsner lovefest continues with some true German representation of the style. Today we taste the Jever Pilsner. The Jever Pilsner is clear straw-yellow in color, looking similar to an unoaked sauvignon blanc, with a short white head. The nose has a prominent lager malt character with grassy/herbal notes and some straw.

The first impression on the palate is dry crispness. There is the usual lager malt note, with a faint hint of green-bottle skunk. Hops take on an herbal note along with a nice bitter bite. There are notes of wheat toast, grass and baled hay as well. The Jever Pilsner is medium-bodied with a nice, crisp fizziness. The finish has long, lingering hops paired with trailing notes of malt.

The Jever Pilsner is a great European Pils, too bad it comes in a green bottle. This is well-hopped for a Euro pils. There is a distinct grassy/straw flavor that pairs quite well with the dryness. If you normally drink any green bottle beers, this is a huge upgrade that you owe yourself to try.