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Wednesday
Apr252012

Stone Pale Ale

 

Stone makes some truly wonderful big beers, but what happens when the brewer of liquid arrogance takes a stab at a lighter brew?  Well if their pale ale is any sign, Stone is far from a one trick pony.  

The beer pours a nice dark red color with a creamy white head that doesn't hang around forever, but long enough to be appreciated.  As far as the aroma is concerned you get hints of subtle hops and biscuity malts.  At the first sip you get those same biscuity malt notes with an undercurrent of grassy hops, but without the floral sharpness that you get in IPA's.  Wrapping things up there's a slightly bitter finish that is almost reminiscent of an ESB.  At only 5.4% abv and with a light clean mouthfeel, you could drink this refreshing brew all night.  Were I to encounter this on tap at the local neighborhood bar, there's no doubt in my mind that it'd become my usual.  Kudos to Stone for proving that you can have a great session beer without sacrificing any of the flavor you expect from a brew with a bit more backbone.

Saturday
Apr212012

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Picked one of these up because I tend to be a fan of most beers Ninkasi brews.  Weighing in at a very drinkable 6.7% abv Total Domination IPA pours with a big creamy head that sticks around for quite some time.  The aroma, while not strong, contains notes of citrusy hops, pineapple, malt, and touch of sour fruit.  For the most part, the flavor mimics the smell, while not being overly pungent.  There's a decent amount of bitterness, dull citrus hoppyness, a few sour notes, and finishes off with a slight grassy hay flavor.  If you like IPAs that knock you over with hops (See: Pliney the Elder) this isn't really going to be for you.  This is more of a session beer (though a high abv one) that you could enjoy several of without getting burned out.  The mouthfeel is a little thick, but somehow not heavy.  While far from my favorite offering from Ninkasi, Total Domination is a very drinkable departure from your typical overly hopped west coast IPA.  I don't love it, but I wouldn't mind having another again soon.

 

Sunday
Apr152012

Lagunitas Our Own Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen

 

Pours a slightly cloudy golden amber color with a white head that fades quickly.  Strong aroma of banana that's carried through to the first sip.  Along with the strong banana flavor, there's a distinctive flavor of bubble gum, as well as a hint of clove and pepper.  It's quite sweet, but with a sharpness to it and a dry yeasty finish.  Weighing in at 9% abv it obviously isn't your typical Doppel Weizen, but rather the style turned to 11 in that classic west coast brewing style.  It's quite good, but I'm not sure it's something I'll buy again.  Definitely worth trying at least once though just to experience a truly west coast take on this classic style of beer.

 

Tuesday
Apr102012

Speakeasy Butchertown Black Ale

 

Butchertown Black Ale is named after the old San Francisco district now known as Bayview where Speakeasy brewing got their start in 1997.  Released in honor of their 14th anniversary, this black ale pours a nice dark walnut color with a fantastic creamy head that has a ton of staying power.  The aroma contains a tiny bit of grassy hops and roasted malt, but mostly isn't very aromatic at all.  With the first sip you're stuck by how thin and watery the mouthfeel is, and yet it's backed up with a a slightly sweet roasted maltyness of a heavier, more substantial beer.  The flavors here aren't terribly complex, but it does have a nice long anise/liquorish finish.  This is a tasty, highly drinkable, refreshing black ale that you could drink all night and never guess that it weighs in at 8.2% abv, until the next morning at least.  I suspect this is going to be one of those love it or hate it beers.  If you're looking for big brash knock you over the head kind of beer, then you'll be disappointed.  But if you'd like a refreshing black ale that isn't heavy, but still has a nice dark maltyness and and alcoholic kick to it, I think you'll be in love here.  Butchertown really does prove that when it comes to beers, sometimes less really is more.

 

Friday
Mar302012

Sam Adams Griffin's Bow

It's often easy to overlook Samuel Adams when thinking about craft brew, but this beer proves that they still have what it takes to hang with the smaller innovative craft breweries.  Griffin's Bow incorporates two beer concepts that I'm a huge fan of; Barleywine and oaking.  As you can see, it pours with a minimal head, typical to the style, and is a nice clear red color.  This is a very sweet oaky barleywine, with notes of caramel, toffee, pineapple, and... I know this sounds a bit crazy, but a hint of popcorn.  The oak flavor tastes a bit artificial and cloying, but not so much that it's offputting.   The ABV weighs in at a hefty 10%, which is what you'd expect out of a proper barleywine, and the mouthfeel has substance to it without being too syrupy.  All in all, this is a pretty great beer, and it's nice to see Samuel Adams still working to release quality innovative beers, despite now producing over 2 million barrels a year.