Archive | March 2012

Big Sky – Moose Drool

Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 5.30%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

My dream career in life is to organize and plan beer festivals all over the country. My second dream career is to work in the rugged outdoors of Colorado, Utah, or even dare I say Montana. Not much can be said of Montana other than its beautiful landscape and being the state that most people forget about. But I can say that Big Sky Brewing is a surprisingly solid beer company that should make Montanaians proud. The label on this beer makes me pine for trail hiking and driving 100 miles without gas stations. The “Moose Drool” name is also pretty awesome, and other than my affinity for Brown Ales, was probably the deciding factor in picking this beer up.

Moose Drool fills the glass with a dark mahogany brown color and almost no head or lacing to speak of. Though that would usually disappoint me in judging the appearance, it didn’t. It sort of reminded me of Montana as a whole –  not in the least bit sexy at all, but still very inviting.

The smell is a nice blend of chocolate, malt, and caramel which stand out pretty well. Some spice in there as well that I couldn’t put my finger on but it was pretty appealing. The taste followed up even better than the nose. It was a really good balance of malty and chocolate sweetness with a slight hop bitterness to finish it off.

I once made out with a moose. This beer was much better than that experience.

Brown ales are usually medium bodied and this follows that formula pretty well. It’s low on the carbonation and very drinkable. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer and can definitely picture sharing this beer with some friends around a campfire telling scary stories.

Overall: 3.75/5 – Big Sky delivers Big Taste!

Big Sky Brewing Company

Boston Beer Company – Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier

Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.50%
Serving type: Bottle into pilsner glass

I don’t know why I keep giving Sam Adams fruit-infused beers my immediate attention as I peruse the liquor store aisles.  I guess I love the idea of a beer with a little something different and I hope that it will blow me away. From what I can tell so far, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I will say I was somewhat surprised by this witbier infused with blackberrys though. I guess my expectations were lowered because of my Cherry Wheat experience, so I wasn’t thinking this would be anything but a blackberry bomb. Well it wasn’t, and I could see why some people really enjoy this beer.

Blackberry Witbier pours a cloudy golden color with a half finger of white head. Not much to say about it really as it looked like a pretty standard beer. I will say it had above average lace retention that I appreciated.

I picked up mild blackberry and wheat scents while breathing it in.  I will admit I was expecting some artificial blackberry smell, but I was impressed that it actually smelled like real blackberrys. Still, it was pretty ordinary and not really shattering my expectations. The taste did beat my expectations though as it had a surprisingly good balance of blackberry, malt, and spice. Naturally it was pretty light in the body and seemed to be strong with the carbonation.

Perhaps I was expecting this beer to be some Willy Wonka type experiment gone wrong. Overall, all I can really say is “the schnozberries tasted like schnozberries!”

I was expecting to bash this beer, but it proved itself worthy enough to finish and possibly recommend to a dumb girl who doesn’t really like beer but needs something to drink. It was a little too sweet to have more than one or two for my tastes, but I could see it being a pretty good beer on a hot summer day.

Overall: 2.75/5 – Unique flavor. Standard offering.

Boston Beer Company

Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan – Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.40%
Serving type: Bottle into weizen glass

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend through my brief journey into the deep depths of the craft beer underworld. Many fellow beer enthusiasts scoff when they ask me what my favorite beer style is and I reply with “soft” styles such as APAs, oatmeal stouts, and hefeweizens. To some, if it’s not a Double IPA that’s bitter enough to make your head explode or an imperial stout with an ABV that gets you drunk after a few sips, then you don’t know what you’re talking about and your street cred is all but lost.  While I agree there is a time and place for these extreme brews, I tend to fall in love with sessionable drinks that I can spend all day sipping on while enjoying them with friends.

My main point of that rant…. this beer is one of the best sessionable beers I’ve come across. Will I argue with people that this beer is over 5.0% ABV so technically it won’t qualify as “sessionable”? No, I refuse to be dragged into internet trolling. It’s close enough for my standards and I doubt  the extra .40% will get me ripping my shirt off and dancing on tables that much quicker. So don’t bother pointing that out. My blog; my incorrect interpretations.

So onto the actual beer tasting!

This lovely beer pours a cloudy golden-yellow color with one of the biggest and fluffiest white heads I’ve ever seen. Some may say this should be the standard of all hefes, though sadly not many look this yummy. Much like the Kardashians, the head on this just wouldn’t go away no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. The lacing on the beer was great and only reinforced my perfect score on the appearance.

The scent was easy to pick up and fit perfectly with what I was expecting from this beer. Huge nose filled with bananas, light cloves, and some lemons. It’s screaming summer and I am hearing it loud and clear. My first sip was just as fabulous. I’m hit with yeast-y goodness up front with lots of wheat and bready notes. Banana and clove tag along but they’re not as pronounced as many of the American hefes I’ve sampled. But then again as the “oldest brewery in the world” which has been around since 1040 I think this would probably be what the style was originally meant to be and others have deviated from it.

As for the mouthfeel, the brew had a light body and was filled with nice bubbly carbonation.  A smooth and creamy offering that has some of the easiest drinkability I’ve come across in a long time. Sipping this during a barbecue or while tailgating at a Sox game is how I picture myself enjoying this over the warmer months. Although I do prefer Sierra Nevada Kellerweis over this, it’s pretty damn close. The determining factor is price and availability. Kellerweis comes in six packs and can be found on most store shelves, where this one takes a little searching for and only comes in single bottles from what I’ve seen.

Can I pronounce the name of this beer? Hell no I can’t!

Can I enjoy every sip of it? Hell yes I can… and I did!

Overall: 4.25/5 – Almost 1000 years of perfecting the style!

Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan

Lagunitas – New Dogtown Pale Ale

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.20%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

So I love me some Lagunitas. And I love me some APAs. So its only fitting that I would love this beer right? Well, not really. Dislike isn’t the word I would use. I think tolerate is a closer descriptor of my reaction to drinking this. It kind of upset me that I wasn’t able to enjoy this as much as others seem to. Oh well, there’s plenty of other good APAs to choose from for me.

This pale ale pours a golden orange color with almost no head and some clear lacing that sticks to the glass. Not the prettiest but it made my mouth water a little bit. It honestly looked damn refreshing with the carbonation and condensation on the glass.

My main problem with this beer is I felt it was too heavy on the hops.  Yes, I know I complain about hops a lot and my beer rating credibility may be lost on all “hop heads” but I just think heavy hop usage should stay where they were invited, in IPAs! That’s the whole point of the style and it should be. I can enjoy hops when I know I should be looking forward to them puckering my mouth up. So imagine my surprise when I took a whiff of this beer and all I could smell was citrus and floral hops. It had a stronger hop smell to it than some IPAs I’ve tasted. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. Not so surprisingly, the taste was also causing me to whine like a little bitch. Its not that its bad, I just feel for the style the bitter hop character is too strong for my liking.

The body of the beer is light, crisp, and highly carbonated. It’s pretty easy to drink and would be easy to put a few back. I think if you enjoy citra and floral hops, you will probably really enjoy this beer. I would be hard to disagree with you, since I can’t say I wasn’t able to appreciate it. This just won’t be my first choice for an APA in the future.

Overall: 2.5/5 – I think they mislabeled this APA

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Bells – Best Brown Ale

Style: English Brown Ale
ABV: 5.80%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

I’ve had nothing but favorable experiences with Bell’s wide selection of beers so I was interested in picking up a nice brown ale for a cold winter night. Well despite the fact that Chicago has not had any winter of any kind up to the point of this post, I was still able to enjoy this beer while imagining winters past where I would have sipped this by the fire. How romantic!

Much like Beyonce, this had a really pretty brown body to it. Smaller butt, though still impressive. Unlike Beyonce, it had a creamy tan top and a perfect two fingers of head with some great lacing. Creeped out by my descriptions yet? Trust me, I’ll refrain from using any Beyonce references in smell and taste.

The nose on this is kind of weak but it does have a good toasted, malty scent. Roasted nuts and caramel make an appearance and it possibly has some dark fruit thrown in for good measure. Not surprisingly, the taste follows the smell fairly close. Toasted malt, roasted nuts, and some hop bitterness to boot. It’s pretty well balanced and can probably satisfy many beer drinkers, whether looking for a dark malty option or just a more flavorful and hoppier alternative to some adjunct lager.

Best Brown Ale had a nice medium body that was tasty but not too filling. Smooth and creamy as expected though carbonation is higher than I’ve experienced in other brown ales. Not a bad thing, just a casual observation.

With a name like “Best Brown Ale” you set the bar pretty high for yourself. I will say they shot for the moon and maybe hit a satellite or something. But as a marketing major in college, I can understand the branding hurdles they would encounter with a name like Bell’s “Pretty Damn Good Brown Ale.” Actually I take that back. That’s an awesome name!

Overall: 4.0/5 – Like Beyonce in a bottle!

Bells Brewery