Sunday, September 29, 2013

054. 1st Street Ale


I'm a little under the weather at the moment, so I'm not drinking much right now. But I was craving a beer tonight. A new beer tonight. So, when I needed a bag of ice, I mosied over to the Spec's Liquor on Cutton Drive in NW Houston and picked up a 6-pack of a local brew that I've never tried before: No Label Brewing Company's 1st Street Ale for about $8.50.

I'm drinking just one tonight, and am going to give you first impressions. I plan to drink another bottle bottle tomorrow (or Monday) and finish a proper review.

First Sip
Popping the top of a cold bottle released a pleasant aroma.I think there are hints of citrus and hops, but I'm a little congested, so I'm not 100% sure. There might even be a trace of pine, but I won't swear to it.I drank this straight from the bottle, so I've no idea how it pours (but there was always a thin head in the bottle, so I have high hopes for it when I get around to pouring it). My first sip brought to mind one word: CRISP.

It has a pleasant bitterness of hops on the tongue that was excited by what seems to be medium carbonation. The first few sips were nice, but after about two-thirds of the bottle, it developed a taste that stayed with me on my tongue in an enjoyable way.

I don't think this is a remarkable ale, but as something to wash down the dog days of summer, I think it's a welcome to any cooler. It's a pleasant ale and I'm looking forward to my next bottle.

From the Website:This Blonde Ale is dedicated to the city of Katy, Texas. Because Katy was known for its rice farming, we decided to brew this beer with a touch of rice, giving it a smooth, clean, and crisp finish. Perfect for all occasions. Come try it at one of our tasting or look for it at shelf near you. 

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Ale
Color: ???
Aroma: Citrus, hops and pine?
Hops: Tart on the tongue
Malt: ???
Head: ???
Lace: ???
Carbonation: Light
Mouthfeel:  Crisp and refreshing
Temperature Sweet Spot: ???
ABV: ???
My Summer Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
To come...

Friday, September 6, 2013

053. Full Sail Amber Ale

There's an almost journeyman quality to Full Sail Amber ale. It's a very good amber -- with everything you expect from an amber -- but nothing that knocks my socks off. Then again, I don't know that I go to an amber (or a bock, for that matter) when I need to remove my footwear.

I drink an amber ale when I want a good, serviceable beer that's not too dark for the summer and not too light and breezy for the winter. In other words, it's a good mid-year beer that has the right combination of flavor and light-on-the-tongue attributes that make it a great way to relax in the evening while watching TV.

But enough dilly dallying, here's the specifics.

The aroma really isn't much to write about. It's not very strong, but it has a nice hint of floral hops and just a hint of citrus that seems to be riding on the malt. The color is spectacular. I really don't think my photo is doing a good job of catching just how amazing the amber/copper color looks. It is brilliant, and so clear that I was able to use the glass (once I brushed away the condensation) as a magnifying glass. Okay, so the text on my monitor looked backwards... but it was big and easy to read.

The lace was incredible. It actually left distinct lace rings to show how much I drank between each sip.

The flavor is another story. It's not remarkable. But it's so danged solid that there's nothing to complain about. The malt comes to the forefront, but not in a dominating way (NOTE: The more I drink, the more I think the malt is "taking charge of my mouth," if you know what I mean). The mouthfeel is silky and pleasant -- no chalky aftertaste. The more I drank, the more of a bready quality I noticed (that is to say, I was aware of the yeast).

I think this is a really solid amber ale and, although it will not make my Favorites List, it would make a list of everyday beers that I would enjoy drinking. In fact, I may just start a list like that. Let's face it, sometimes I just want a beer that doesn't challenge me or get up in my face. I want an old-reliable brew that I can kick back with, watch some television or sip while I play online Ticket to Ride.

This is a beer that I could enjoy drinking almost any day of the year.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Amber Ale
Color: A brilliant, clear amber/copper
Aroma: Faint floral notes from the hops with a tease of citrus riding on the malt
Hops: Tame and in balance with the malt
Malt: Present and strong, but not bitchy about it
Head: Gorgeous 2-finger head
Lace: 17th Century French nuns couldn't make better lace
Carbonation: Light
Mouthfeel:  Crisp and pleasing with the faintest hint of hops bitterness -- just enough to tell you they were there, but without being in-your-face about it
Temperature Sweet Spot: The hops and aroma come alive around 50-53 degrees.
ABV: 6%
My Summer Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
The guys over at Beer Advocate were almost schizophrenic over this ale. Some guys hated it and others loved it. Some said it had no head, others praised the head. I've honestly never seen a beer garner such diverse reactions before. It makes me really question their quality control.