Friday, July 31, 2009

Downtown Produce Craft Beer Fest

Last weekend we just happened to be going to our local beer supplier (I guess they have more than just beer), Downtown Produce. As we pulled in, we noticed the parking lot was overflowing.
"What the? Oh! There's a beer tasting going on today! Sweet!"

They had a pretty nice little setup with various brewery reps pouring samples at stations throughout the store.

I managed to try (some for the second time):

Orange Blossom Pilsner - A locally owned beer that's brewed by Thomas Creek in Greenville, SC. Tastes the way an orange blossom smells.

Dogfish Head Midas Touch - wacky stuff, saffron, grapes - supposedly from an ancient beer recipe.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron - truly strange. A brown ale that smells like sawdust and tastes like cedar. But in a good way.

Abita Satsuma Wit - Mmmm...fruity. Refreshing. Part of their seasonal harvest series.

Abita Amber - Pretty light and non-descript. Not offensive, but nothing to write home about.

Brooklyn Local #2 - A Belgian strong dark ale, very tasty.

Harpoon Summer - This is actually a kolsch, I believe. Seemed kind of flavorless next to the other selections.

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils - Nothing too special. Standard pils, but without much hop bite.

Oskar Blues Old Chub - Great Scottish ale, with a hint of smokiness.

Sierra Nevada Porter - solid porter, very tasty.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nøgne Ø Pale Ale

Another offering from Nøgne Ø, this time the Pale Ale, 6% abv from Grimstad, Norway.

After trying the brown ale, I was pretty excited to see what else Nøgne Ø has available. Unfortunately, this is the only other style I can get around here at the moment, which is probably a good thing, since this 500ml bottle is $5.50.

The glass pours a hazy reddish brown with a nice off-white head that fades to a thin coating.

The nose is pretty floral, with some grassiness and malt sweetness peeking through.

The hops are right up front in the taste, but there's a surprising balance of malt. You kind of expect this to assault your palate, but it immediately eases up with some nice breadiness. The Northern Brewer hops add some earthiness, while the Centennial hits you with some citrus tartness. It finishes fairly crisp, with some slight puckering grapefruit at the very end.

Tasty stuff, and the more you drink, the more subdued the bitterness becomes.
It's really an interesting variation of the American Pale Ale.

Victory Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey Tripel from Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA, 9.5%

Pours a hazy golden yellow with a slight reddish tint and a modest head that quickly disappears.
It smells pretty spicy, with yeast and maybe some orange - the alcohol is pretty obvious from the scent.

The taste is pretty spicy, too, with some good hops up front, and a pleasant fruity/hoppy aftertaste. The alcohol warmth is throughout, but there's a nice crisp peppery & earthy phenolic finish.

Very drinkable, especially for such a high alcohol content.
I certainly wouldn't turn down one (or two) of these again.

New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale

Fat Tire Amber Ale, and American amber ale, 5.2% from New Belgium Brewing Inc, in Fort Collins, CO.

I was pretty excited to try this one, since we don't get New Belgium stuff in Florida yet...but Georgia has it! So when we went to Cari's uncle's lake house in Georgia last week, I was able to try a commemorative Georgia 22oz bottle (basically the same label, but with a "Georgia" banner slapped on it).

This beer is pretty famous as kind of a gateway craft beer...the beer that new craft beer drinkers list as their favorite, and old beer snobs dismiss as overrated.
My expectations may have been a little high.

The beer pours a deep red/copper color, with a nice thick head, and crystal clarity. The smell? Hmm. I thought it might be somewhat Belgian-y, what with the company name and all. Nope. "This smells like a dirty bathroom," Cari said.
It's a little grassy, a bit peppery... and yeah, some urinal cake smells going on there. Not super-pleasant.

The taste? Pretty biscuity. Usually the maltiness of a beer is described in a range from bready to biscuity to toasty and so forth. This is a pretty good example of biscuit flavors.
Mouthfeel is a little thin - there's some toastiness, but also some veggie/corn business, with a slight metallic edge.

I gotta say I'm not a big fan. I drank a few, and it wasn't completely unpleasant, but I'm hoping some of their other offerings are a little better.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Southampton Publick House Altbier

Altbier Düsseldorf-Style Ale from Southampton Publick House (NY) - 5% abv.
I was extremely excited to find an altbier when I took a side trip to ABC Wine & Spirits recently...they're impossible to find! Plus, I had just read a blurb somewhere about Southampton Publick House, so I was anxious to try one of their brews for the first time.
Not to mention this is a style I'm hoping to brew next, since it traditionally features Spalt hops (from the village my family comes from).
What's an altbier, anyway? It's a German brown ale, translating literally to "old beer"... referring to the long period of conditioning, which mellows out ale's fruitier flavors. Marketing folks don't really want to put something out as an "old beer", so a few examples exist as a "Copper Ale" or "Amber Ale" in the States.
This particular example pours a deep copper/amber/brown, with crystal clarity.
It smells like ... a honey graham cracker, maybe a little grapey? It's super-sweet.
The taste is pretty much in line with the smell - sweet, sweet, sweet caramel malt with bready light hops way in the background. The aftertaste is delicious.
Cari took one sip and declared, "Oh, that's good. That's really good."
It may be a little on the sweet side for the style, but it still remains fairly crisp and refreshing.
I think Cari and I will be fighting over the last one in the six pack.