Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quck Sip 005. Square Mile Spur & Vine Hopped Apple Cider

Another cider on the menu tonight. I want sure what to expect from the addition of hops, other than bitterness. But I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't overly bitter. The hint of bitterness is definitely there, but it's not too bad.

The color is very light golden yellow with a faint carbonation, so gaunt it's almost not there (not that I think there should be more). The apples are semi-sweet, kind of like a mix of golden delicious and Granny Smith. I don't see this becoming one of my favorite hard ciders (not at $10 for a 1 pint 6 oz bottle), but I would definitely drink this again, and I will definitely try the other offerings from Square Mile Cider.

The more I drink it, the dryer it seems. I think it's a property of the temperature release aroma and flavor from the hops.

My score: 7.5 out of 10

Friday, March 7, 2014

058. Unita Baba Black Lager

It is a very rare March night here in Houston, Texas. The temperature is below freezing and there is icy rain falling down. Just the perfect dirt of night to cozy up with a tall glass (or four) of an ale so dark it can almost bend light. This time I'm diving into an unusual little brew from the Unita Brewing Co. in Utah -- an organic concoction called Baba Black Lager.

Pop a Top for me...
I bought this beer in cans, which is a bit unusual, as I mostly buy bottles these days. I think it was about $13-$15 for the 12-pack. The cans are light-weight and would travel well in a cooler. Of course, where would I be lugging a cooler in these, the icy last days of a long winter? So, in my case I'm just lugging them upstairs to enjoy whilst I putter away on some overdue computer projects.

Popping the top provides a mild odor of malt and not much else, except possible some sweet chocolate. But if the Hershey goodness is there, it's subtle. Definitely under the radar. After writing this review, I went online to read what others have said of it, and a few mentioned some coffee undertones. It may be the power of suggestion, but after reading that I think I smelled a little java, too.

From the Label:
Robust and smooth, this full-flavored lager is exceptionably drinkable and pitch black in color.

Don't fault the Unita Website for being short and to the point. This beer is very dark and does have a full flavor. This is one of the darkest beers I've seen, easily rivaling Guinness and a few Russian beers I've had. The head is a beautiful, light caramel color that's as stiff as a biscuit -- that is to say, it's strong. It also leaves an aggressive lace on the sides of my glass. And all this was from a very conservative, gentle pour. When I made an aggressive pour on my last can, I actually got a four-finger head that was slow to diminish. And, as you can well imagine, it left dramatic lace on the inside of the glass that was just begging to be licked off.

This is one of the very few beers that I prefer to drink very cold (about 42 degrees F). At warmer temps, a few other elements come to the surface and it reveals a dry, chalky aftertaste. For this brew, cold is the way to go.

Closing Thoughts
This is one of the best winter beers I've had in a long time. I can't picture wanting to drink this in the heat of summer, but with the icy winds swirling about outside, this is a fantastic winter warmer that I plan to revisit before the season actually turns again.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Black Lager
Color: Dark, dark, dark brown (let's call it black)
Aroma: Roasted malt with hints of chocolate and coffee
Hops: Mild, but with a nice hint of bitters under the tongue
Malt: Dark roasted to perfection
Head: Thick caramel
Lace: Dramatic and impressive -- 2+ fingers easily
Carbonation: Medium/Heavy
Mouthfeel:  Full body, sweet bready consistency
Temeprature Sweet Spot: 42 degrees
ABV: 4.%
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10
A Winter Favorite

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
Most of the guys over at RateBeer.com agreed with me. This is just boring.