Sunday, March 20, 2011

018. The Bad Elf ain't that Bad...

I don't really like strong hops... at least most of the time they just seem to add bitterness for the sake of being bitter. In other words, most brew masters -- when they venture into the realm of the heavy-hops brew -- tend to be heavy handed and indiscriminate about adding hops.  Which is probably why I've been putting off sampling Bad Elf Winter's Ale.

Ridgeway Brewing in Oxfordshire produces this seasonal ale, and it was a pleasant surprise. I fully expected the hops to dominate the ale and give me a serious case of "bitter beer face," but it didn't. It has an understated hoppy flavor and hoppier aroma. Considering what it says on the label, this was a VERY pleasant surprise:

"'Tis a heavy hand what adds the hop to this festive golden ale.Truth be told, there's near to three pounds of hops in every barrel of this treasured brew. Pull up a sturdy chair, let's fill up yer best flagonwith the season's finest natural ale, and I'll tell you a dark tale of elf and woe. 'Ere's to your elf!"

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Color: Cloudy copper
Aroma: Complex Hops with a faint hint of citrus
Taste: Lighter than expected, especially after smelling all the hops. The hopes seem to deliver a nice, layed flavor that is more sophisticated than I expected.
Head: Thin and just barely average
Lace: Thicker than expected, considering the weak head
Carbonation: Light: dissipated quickly
ABV: 6%
Despite the lightness of the color, this is a hearty brew that is probably best suited for winter.
I give this a 7.5 out of 10.

Other reviews worth a sip:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hangover Report: Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale

Just thought I'd post a quickie update on the 12th beer I reviewed: Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale.

I was at a party this week and (I will not lie), the hostess had stocked up on this beer. I know it's seasonal, but I've still seen it around here and there. So, we both were knocking them back like I did in my college days on a week night (that is to say, not quickly, but steadily all night) as we and our spouses played a friendly game of Power Grid (that's a super-fun German board game -- if you're not familiar with it, you really should look into it).

So, I was drinking moderately. I didn't get drunk, but I did get a healthy buzz (fret not, my wife drove us home). Maybe the buzz is the reason why I came in third out of four players (but since my hostess had been drinking more than I had, and she won, I kinda doubt it).

Anyway, I didn't pay as much attention to hydration as I should have. Oh, I drank some water near the end of the night, and more before bed, but not as much as I should have to compensate for the amount of beer I had drank.

I'm please to report that I had no hangover effects whatsoever the next morning.  I can't guarantee you'll have the same response, but I faced the morning after with no regrets. Except for a few bone-headed moves I'd made in Power Grid, that is...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

017. Samuel Adams NOBLE experiment

Wow. A month since my last post? I wouldn't blame you people if you thought I went on the wagon. Truth is, I've been sipping without writing. Also, I've been buying so many beers that my wife is thinking about calling those people who do the Hoarders TV show.

With that said, it's time for me to do some quick, short posts to see if I can catch up before June. Not likely, but you never know...

Samuel Adams Noble Pils is in my cup tonight (sorry, no photo of the cup, but here's a shot of the six pack).

This is a light beer with an acidic bite that's not too harsh and brings a bright, cheery note just in time for spring. It has a nice, fluffy white head and a very pale brown/golden body. The aroma is a mixture of hops and citrus, which is just what I want in a spring libation.

What's funny is that I had made all the above observations before reading the text at the top of the neck of the bottle:

"Samuel Adams Noble Pils is one of the only brews made with all 5 Noble hops from the world's oldest growing regions. Its bright flavor and lively, citrus hop character reminds us that the warm days of spring are just a few weeks away. Cheers!"

For once, it appears that I'm right on the money with my analysis.

Thoughts from the Bottom of the Glass:
Color: Golden brown
Aroma: Hops and citrus
Taste: Light, bright, a nice balance of hops, malt and a hint of citrus
Head: Thick & fluffy, very thick
Lace: Thick and stays (rinse your mug before leaving it overnight)
Carbonation: Strong/Medium
ABV: 4.9%
I give it a 7.5 out 10

This is a perfect beer for Spring. This is something I could definitely drink again.

By the way, thanks to Brew Beat for their observations (and the photo I lifted) on this beer. And, in case you'r wondering, I always write my own reviews before going out there to see what other people have to say about it. In this case, I didn't notice any of the "Syrupy sweet malt character in the background" that they did.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

016. Dr. Zvagho would drink this... But not me.

Baltika Extra Lager Grade 9

This is a very bitter beer. It has a strong taste and nose, and that's not necessarily a good thing, because it tastes like socks and feels like a punch in the nose.  Okay, I'm exaggerating; it's not all bad. Just mostly.

I was drinking this while watching TV with my wife and she saw the expression on my face and asked what I was drinking. I showed her the bottle

My wife said it "Smells like Coors." That's not necessarily a bad thing for some people, but it is for me.

I drink it cold and did not like it, so I decided to test it at a few different temperatures.  Bad mistake: As it gets warmer, the taste gets worse. This maybe only the second beers I was not able to finish. The first was Grand 95. Let's just say, ole 95 was so bad that I actually poured half the bottle on my lawn (some lawn care guy told me that you could pour beer on the ground to cure brown spots on the grass -- and it worked!). By the way: Both of these beers were very high alcohol content. This one had about 8% alcohol ABV, and the Grand is about 9.5% (if memory serves me)

Needless to say, this one of my least favorite beers of all time. I will definitely not be drinking this again.

Color: Yellow
Aroma: Strong, with no hint of the horrors to come
Taste: Ugh. Like old socks.
Head: Medium --  also very loose, not at all prone to leaving any lace on the glass
Lace: Almost none

I give this a zero out of 10 stars.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

015. Comfort that is Southern

"Clarity is overrated."

I was at Spec's Liquor Store in NW Houston tonight,  and   came across another local hometown brew that has a chance of working its  way into my heart. The brewery is Southern Star (from Conroe, Texas, which is just north of Houston) and the beer is Pine Belt Pale Ale.

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure about the difference between an India Pale Ale and an American Pale Ale (which is what they call this on the back of   its tall can), but I like it.  It's not as hoppy and tends to be smoother. Or at least it is in this case.

First things first? The quote on the can is  dead-on  accurate? This is one cloudy beer. Even after giving it plenty of time to settle, it stays cloudy. Not that's necessarily a bad thing.

The ale has a cloudy browinsh/gold color.

The aroma is faintly sweet with a  hint of fruit (probably citrus). Very pleasant.

Although I taste the hops, they are not overpowering.
I definately taste the malt (and really enjoy it).
The head and lace are both highly impressive.
Temperature  Notes --  I really enjoyed this ice cold, but when I let it warm (to chilled) the citrus notes became more pronounced.

I give this an 8 out of 10.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

014. Ayinger Ur-Weisse

"Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

Yeah, it's a quote from Star Trek, but I'm actually quoting it from the parody from the Family Guy episode, "The Road to Rupert." Definitely my favorite episode (yup, I've got it on my Droid). It's what I'm watching while tasting this German import. Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying.

The show, by the way, has nothing to do with the beer (if you're holding your breath, waiting for me to pull it all together... sorry, not gonna happen). I also had a rather spicy meal of sausage and eggs, and I must admit that it was not the best choice of food/beer that I've made this year. It wasn't horrible, but the pairing didn't suit the beer.

I think this beer would pair better with sausage and sour kraut, which is what I plan to have the next time I drink this. I think its malt under tones will serve that well. I think this is a good, lighter beer that has a lot going for it. However, it's not that memorable, and although I wouldn't turn it down in the future, I can't picture myself going out of my way to have it again. All in all, it's a serviceable beer, but not a great beer.

Ayinger Ur-Weisse
From Germany

Our Ayinger Ur-Weisse is an old-fashioned wheat with some fine roasted malt to give it more color and flavor than golden hefe- weisse. It has an immense crown of lovely foam held proudly above a robe of translucent amber. On the palate, malt and yeast predominate, with a delicious balance of fruit and bread-like yeast. The taste is complex, with suggestions of soft fruit, apple, and, in the finish, perhaps, even cloves.

Alcohol content: 5%

Let's hit the usual points:

Color: Golden, but a bit cloudy
Aroma: A nice smell of wheat and citrus (and maybe apple)
Head: Light, dissipates quickly
Lace: Almost none
Carbonation: Light

Very good stuff. 

I give this 6.5 out of 10.

And, from near the end of the Family Guy episode:
"Oh, thank you Crone, you're so pleasant."

You gotta read this review for some info, including serving suggestions: