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Mother's Brewing Winter Grind Coffee Stout

Commendably straight forward. Strong coffee flavor without much else going on to distract you from the central theme. Tastes a bit like alcoholic iced coffee. No acidity like other examples of this style exhibit and a thinner mouth feel than you'd expect. If you enjoy coffee stouts this is definitely one worth trying.


John A. Huber Brewing Huber Blonde Ale

Pours a cloudy amber color. No real aroma to speak of other than a hint of malt. Taste is overwhelming malty with a bitter finish. Underhopped given the heavy malt flavor. Extremely minimal carbonation. Not horrible but there are far better session beers out there.


Shiner Bohemian Black Lager


I've mentioned before how schwarzbiers, or black lagers, seem to have really become trendy over the past year or two, and how I'm a fan of the trend given that they make for great session beers.  So, when the folks at Spoetzl Brewery reached out and offered to send me a review sample of their Shiner Bohemian Black Lager I graciously accepted.  Little did they know that I've been enjoying Shiner Black ever since they first debuted it as a limited release beer to celebrate the brewery's 97 anniversary.
The beer pours a nice rich black color with an average head for this style of beer.  While there's no heavy aromas to speak of, the flavor profile features sweet toasted malts with a slight hint of coffee and smoke notes.  This isn't a beer you want when you're looking for something big, exceedingly complex, and heavy though.  As you'd want with this style, this is a rather thin and highly refreshing beer that you could enjoy all night.  Plus at only 4.9% abv you could easily do so.  One thing I've noticed while drinking this beer over the years is that it pairs amazingly well with anything smoky, ranging from good Texas BBQ to a nice smoky scotch like Lagavulin.  
Spoetzl Brewery has always had a special place in my heart since I grew up in Texas, but their Bohemian Black Lager really stands out to me as a quality product that hits the mark that it aims for.  I guess that's why this brew won the German-Style Schwarzbier group at the Great American Beer Fest, as well as its category at the European Beer Star Awards.  It's a great value at the price, and deserves a look by those who would normally overlook a Spoetzl beer.  Not to mention it's always nice to support one of the last American breweries that have been in business for over 100 years without being acquired by Inbev Anheuser-Busch.




Social Kitchen & Brewery Big Barleywine

Pours with a minimal head as a barleywine should. No real aroma to speak of but that may be due to the low tempature of the pour. The first taste is surprisingly complex with a sweet oak primary flavor that sticks around for as long as you drink the beer. Honestly I've never been a fan of the early Social brews so I've ignored them recently despite living a few blocks away, but if this barleywine is any sign that was a mistake. A great beer in a style you love is always something to take notice of. Well done Social, I'll be back for more.




Lucky Hand Black Lager

Black lagers seem to be all the rage lately, and since I’m a fan of the style I picked this one up since I’ve yet to try it.  Lucky Hand Black Lager is actually brewed by Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz, CA for the Lucky Hand Brewing company. 

As far as the beer is concerned, it pours a nice black coffee color with minimal head.  As you would expect with a black lager, it isn’t too viscous and pours rather thinly.  There isn’t really much aroma to speak of other than a little toasted malt and a hint of soy sauce.  These muted flavors are carried over into the taste of the beer, with the soy sauce flavor being a bit off putting.  This flavor is caused by autolyzed yeast in the beer, which loosely means there is too much dead yeast in the bottle.  No real hop flavor to speak of and a very average 5.5% abv.  Other than that, there really isn’t anything to rant or rave about with this beer, other than the fact that it’s certified to be organic if that’s something you care about (I don’t).  It’s rather boring and reminds me of one of those generic brews you’d get at a half-assed brewpub. 

There are plenty of great black lagers (schwarzbiers) to be had out there, but this isn’t one of them.  It’s drinkable, and not to be actively avoided, but given the choice between this and say a Shiner Black, I’d go with the latter.