Archive | April 2012

Southern Tier – Hop Sun

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.10%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

If I was playing a game of charades, and I needed to act out the word “underwhelming,” to my partner, I would probably just point to this beer.

I went into picking this beer out with the mindset that A) It’s pretty warm out and a nice summer brew would set the mood nicely; and B) I haven’t had any Southern Tier offerings before so maybe I’ll try something new!

This led to C) I should have grabbed another hefeweizen.

The beer starts off innocently enough with a  cloudy, golden pour with a very thin white head that wasn’t around long. Summer beers don’t normally blow you away with their complex features, but they shouldn’t put you to sleep either. The very mild hop presence blends with a malty backbone well, but it’s standard in every sense of the word.

The taste was mostly wheat upfront with a slight citrus hop flavor fighting to be noticed. It had the littlest of bitter finishes to it, but overall it was smooth as a baby’s bottom. I have to wonder if maybe this is an old bottle. For a beer called “Hop Sun” I was expecting some more hops and a helluva lot more sun! Oh well, I guess I’ll just sip on it and dream of what could have been. To its credit, it had a light body to it and some good carbonation.

Will this beer quench your thirst after mowing the yard on a hot day? Absolutely! But so would water and I can get that shit from the hose. With so many other beers fitting that imaginary “mowing the yard” thirst quenching description equally well, I doubt I would recommend this over any of the others.

To summarize: In all honestly, I doubt I could pick this beer out of a police lineup with a gun to my head. But why in the hell would that scenario ever come up?


Overall: 2.5/5 – Nothing to see here folks. Move along!

Southern Tier Brewing Company


SHANDY SHOWDOWN! – Leinenkugel’s vs. Shock Top

Style: Fruit / Vegetable Beer
ABV: 4.20%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

I’d like to welcome you to a new feature of this blog, where I will pit two similar beers into my custom built Death Dome to square off against each other, leaving only one to survive and be crowned True Beer Champion!

That sounded way more awesomely epic than what will actually transpire. What will actually happen is that I will judge each and decide on which represents the style better. I will put it up to vote and you the readers will decide the true winner.

The inaugural combatants in this beer beat-down are two shandy style beers packed with enough lemons to have you puckering your lips more than a girl’s Facebook profile picture. The point of these beers isn’t to blow you away with their complexities; they are here to be refreshing and easy to drink. With that in mind…

Let the battle begin!

Appearance – Starting with Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, the appearance was a nice hazy yellow color with a finger of bubbly white head. The head on this beer lasted a lot longer than I expected and left some pretty decent lacing. Pretty surprising for what isn’t considered a very heavy or high ABV beer style.

Shock Top Lemon Shandy was almost identical to Leinenkugel’s offering, if you couldn’t already tell by the almost identical pictures above. One finger of head appeared though it faded away much faster than Leine’s offering. And there was almost no lace to speak of for Shock Top, though that isn’t enough for me to distinguish between the two.

EDGE – Even

Smell – Shock Top’s shandy had a scent that was pretty mild and I wasn’t able to make out much besides the lemon and grain. I wasn’t expecting much and it delivered on those expectations.

Summer Shandy was pretty similar though it had some malt notes to it to go along with the grain and citrus. Almost no hint of hops were present in either.

EDGE -Slightly Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, but only because of the hint of malt I could detect in the nose.

Taste – The best way I can describe the taste of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is “summer in a bottle.” I will admit that it’s definitely more lemonade than beer, but I don’t mind. Summer Shandy has malt, citrus, and grain flavors very much like it’s aroma. It’s sweeter than a Lance Bass Christmas special.

Shock Top’s Lemon Shandy on the other hand is like a Joey Fatone Christmas special. It had good intentions, but it failed miserably and made me tear down all my N’Sync posters. Wait what..? Anywho, this beer is more artificial than your girlfriend’s moans in the bedroom. It was mostly false lemon taste with wheat. I’m pretty sure I was getting that oxidation aftertaste of wet cardboard on top of the already forgettable taste. Not pleasant at all to be blunt.

EDGE – Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy in a No Contest!

Mouthfeel – Shock Top was very thin and smooth. I would say it was easy to drink, but the taste made that point moot. There was almost no carbonation to it either which surprises me since “shandy” is basically beer with lemon soda in it.

Summer Shandy might be even lighter than Shock Top. Again, it’s easy to drink though this is loaded to the gills with carbonation. I’ve had this from the tap many times, but it’s never been this bubbly. I’m pretty sure I could burp the “Old McDonald” song if I drank this fast enough… or if I could burp at all. But that’s another story for another time.

EDGE – Slight to Summer Shandy again because of the carbonation.


So now let’s go to the judge’s scorecards for the final results….

MY WINNER – Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy

In a unanimous decision, I choose Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy as the better lemon shandy readily available to the U.S. market. Though very similar in many respects, the taste of each is so far apart that it’s not really close. I have a feeling that Budweiser saw how popular Summer Shandy was getting and decided to get into the mix. Their attempt seems somewhat rushed and half-assed while Summer Shandy makes me long for bonfires, camping, and fishing. It’s the perfect compliment to any summer activity!

So now I’d like to hear your opinion. If you’ve had both, just one, or hell – even if you accidentally got redirected to this blog post by some computer virus, I’d love to know your opinion. Who is the one and only Shandy badass?!

Leinenkugel Brewing Company

Shock Top

New Holland – The Poet

Style: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 5.20%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

As a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe, I feel pretty bad for him lately. First, I see he is being portrayed by John Cusack (ugh) in a new movie that will probably be going from the theater to DVD faster than I can finish this sarcastic eye roll. Then, I stumble across this beer that’s name references Poe directly and is a play on his work “The Raven.” Perhaps it was done in tribute, or perhaps they just thought it was a theme that would sell beers. Whatever the decision was, I can respect the label and theme but the beer is just average in most respects and doesn’t do the Poe-ster the credit he definitely deserves.

This bottle poured pitch black with about a half finger of dark khaki head that was gone in an instant. It was a pretty standard appearance for an oatmeal stout honestly. It didn’t disappoint, but it didn’t “wow” me either.

The beer gave off an aroma of chocolate mixed with dark fruits and some burnt coffee. This was followed up with a sweet cocoa taste highlighted with hints of that very same coffee. It’s hard to explain for me. It’s like I can appreciate what they were going for and they did a respectable job, but with so many delicious oatmeal stouts readily available, I wouldn’t rush out to pick this one out. It doesn’t set itself apart enough for me to seek it or order it by name at a bar. The mouthfeel is slightly lighter than I was expecting but to its credit is very smooth and creamy as I was hoping.

Not a bad beer in any respect. I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is somewhere in the middle of the pack in my opinion in regards to oatmeal stouts. I’ve only come across perhaps four or five beers by New Holland, though I’m starting to see a trend in that they don’t impress me enough to search them out. If you’re looking to try something new and want a peek at what the standard for a particular style is, New Holland is a good first choice as they are usually the one brewing that beer.

Overall: 3.0/5 – How often will I search this out? Probably “Nevermore”

New Holland Brewing Company

Founders – Dirty Bastard

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV: 8.50%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!

Well this beer isn’t exactly Scottish, but it’s a great American take on a Scotch Ale, or also known as “Wee Heavy,” which just so happens to be my favorite name of all the numerous beer styles. I liked the name “Dirty Bastard,” which recently caused such a ruckus in Alabama that they banned the beer from the state. As if they weren’t already ass-backwards on everything, they now add banning a beer due to its funny name to their list. It sucks for the Alabamians(?) who appreciate good beer, as this was a pretty solid offering and the 8.5% ABV would have had them kissing their cousins in no time!

This “Wee Heavy” poured absolutely beautiful! Much like a true Scotsman’s beard, this brew was a deep dark red color that wouldn’t allow any light to pass through it. The only difference was the nearly two fingers of tan head, where as a true Scotsman posses ten (or possibly nine) fingers and a pale-as-a-ghost complexion.

The smell was dominated by lots of toasty malts and raisins. It was definitely a unique scent that I enjoyed very much. The smell was followed up with a taste that had a nice blend of malt, dark fruits, and slight alcohol. The beer even has a hint of hops in the finish. It seems to hit square on the head all the flavors it was trying to convey.

The beer was pretty smooth drinking and possessed a medium body. A good amount of carbonation makes the drinkability outstanding.

I would say this was a beer that I could drink this all day! The flavors come together great, but the somewhat high alcohol volume keeps you from enjoying too many too quickly. If you’re like me, you could probably do two or three over a night out. If you’re like the “Dirty Bastard” on the label, you’ll pour this on your cereal.

Overall: 4.0/5 – I tilt my kilt to this beer

Founders Brewing Company

Smuttynose – Old Brown Dog Ale

Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 6.50%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

What more can I say about this beer that it’s name and label doesn’t already perfectly convey. Much like an old dog, this beer is reliable and can be your old trusted friend that you’ll always want by your side. I’ll give the beer an edge over an actual dog because it won’t hump your house guests or lose control of its bladder on your nice rug.

This Smuttynose offering pours a real lovely maple color but is actually more mahogany when it’s held to the light. It had one finger of pretty tan head that faded away rather quickly. It left some nice laced rings on the glass after sips.

Old Brown Dog Ale has some amazingly awesome malty scents with some lighter notes of fruits and roasted nuts. It’s basically what every brown ale aspires to be… or at least its what they should be aspiring to be. The smell translates very well to the taste which hits you with some sweet malty and brown sugar flavors. The body of this beer was a smooth medium texture and it had the perfect amount of carbonation to make it superbly drinkable.

Overall I really enjoy the American Brown Ale style a lot and especially this beer in particular. I would definitely search this one out again. Now go Lassie! Find me another one of these to drink!

Nevermind. Just keep sniffing that other dog’s butt instead. It’s a better use of your time.

Overall: 4.25/5 – One Brown Ale to rule them all!

Smuttynose Brewing Company