journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

A Beer a Day

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Coopers – Sparkling Ale

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Brewery: Coopers
Beer: Sparkling Ale
Category: Specialty Beer (Australian Sparkling Ale) 
ABV:
5.80%
Brewed in: Australia

Coopers Sparkling Ale is technically an “Australian Sparkling Ale” which is not a specifically recognized style of beer by the BJCP. We would hope the next official release of  BJCP guidelines would include this style. For the time being it is specifically referenced as falling under “Specialty Beer”.

In terms of what type of beer it is similar to? I have seen others refer to it as an “English Pale Ale” or EPA.

The beer pours a attractive golden and is cloudy which is a result of the beer being unfiltered and bottle conditioned. In fact, the yeast in the bottle has another distinct effect.

If you are wondering why it is called “Sparkling Ale” – check this out:

The head developed one finger thick and an almost pure white. Retention was very average and minimal lacing occurred.

The aroma I get it sweet malts, some bready yeast, and subtle hints of hops and citrus notes. I think it kind of smells like how it looks if that makes sense.

The taste begins a smooth with a crisp maltiness that gives way to the hops and a more bitter finish. There are definite fruits notes here with citrus being obvious. The other influence is harder to identify – maybe apples or pears. Again, the finish is hoppy. Very balanced overall.

The mouthfeel is light to medium. It is smooth but at the same time quite carbonated.

Overall, I found this beer to be extremely refreshing and thirst quenching possessing some very subtle complexities to keep me interested. I would have never tried this beer if I hadn’t been given that “Beer a Day” book. I am glad I did. This will surely be a staple of my warmer-season beer roster.

I would also add that this beer has the complexities and subtleness to it’s character that most beer geeks would enjoy it but, at the same time, it has the perfect blend of qualities (and price) to give to your non-beer geek friends to get the started on quality beer.

Last comment: next time you want to toast to Australia, put down the damn Foster’s and grab a Cooper’s. Aussie’s will notice and thank you.

Rating:


 

 


Traquair – House Ale

Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brewery: Traquair
Beer: House Ale
Category: Strong Scotch Ale
ABV:
7.20%
Brewed in: Scotland

Traquair House Ale pours a dark chestnut color that is virtually impenetrable by light. The head developed one finger thick even with an extremely aggressive pour. There was minimal lacing and short retention.

My nose is picking up on a handful of similar aromas: roasted malt, toffee, caramel, and molasses. They all balance each other out quite well.

The taste was not as loaded as the aroma. I only really notice roasted and nutty caramel and toffee. It is surely less complex then smelling the beer let on.

The mouthfeel is quite light and carbonation is low to medium. The alcohol content of 7.2% is not any more noticeable than a beer with 5%. It goes down quite easy.

The individual aspects of this beer are less than the sum of its parts. My general overall impression of this beer is quite positive. It has very complimentary flavors, smells, and mouthfeel that combine for a very enjoyable drink.

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Anchor Steam Beer

Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Brewery: Anchor
Beer: Anchor Steam Beer
Category: California Common
ABV:
4.90%
Brewed in: United States

Anchor Steam is a nice medium amber color – even a little tint of orange. The beer pours with a fluffy one finger head with a very long retention that leaves some impressive sticky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of malted barley with some slight hop notes. There is not a lot of complexity to the aroma and I can’t tell if I am “forcing” a smell but there may be hints of some fruits and other grains I can’t identify.

The taste is similar to the aroma consisting mostly of malted barley with the hops taking a stronger presence in comparison. The taste is a little sweet with the fruit notes and a bit of nuttiness coming through. A very enjoyable flavor that is not too heavy. This could easily be a session beer.

The beer is moderately carbonated and the moutfeel is tingly but smooth. Light to medium body.

A very pleasant beer and I would recommend it when you aren’t looking to find something new and crazy but just want a straight up beer with a little class.

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Rochefort – Trappistes 10

Date: Thursday, January 13, 2011
Brewery: Rochefort
Beer: Trappistes 10
Category: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
ABV:
11.30%
Brewed in: Belgium

Pours a very murky dark brown with a fairly large fizzy head. Head retention is impressive but leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is a veritable buffet of dark fruits including raisins, plums, figs and grapes. There are notes of caramel accompanied by yeast, molasses and some brown sugar. It is an incredibly complex aroma that took me several minutes and a dozen sniffs to dissect and I still think there are more notes to uncover.

The flavor is a rich combination of the same notes in the aroma. I taste some chocolate that didn’t stick out in the nose along with the raisin, plum, fig, grape, caramel, yeast, molasses, and brown sugar. You can barely taste the 11.3% ABV hidden amongst the flavors but you are reminded it is there with the pleasant warming feeling the brew brings as you swallow. I would describe the beers dominant flavor profile to be sweet rather than bitter. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with medium carbonation.

I find the beer goes done smoother and smoother as it warms to room temperature. A stunning combination of flavors are found in this beer.

I would again highly recommend this beer to any beer nerds out there. I am creating quite a streak of amazing beers this past week. Probably because I just decided to do this blog and have been buying all the superstars.

One caveat to note – this is a big beer. I wouldn’t be serving this to any beer newbies. You need a developed appreciation for beer before you should tackle this giant.

Rating:



Innis & Gunn – Original

Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Brewery: Innis & Gunn
Beer: Original Oak Aged Beer
Category: Wood-Aged Beer
ABV:
6.60%
Brewed in: Scotland

Innis & Gunn OriginalTypical beer pour yielded a quick dissipating one-finger coarse white head. Minimal lacing occurred.

The aroma offered is unappealing giving me the impression the brewer has tried to mask the overpowering skunk smell with copious amounts of vanilla. There are faint smells of oak but the aromas expected from beer (i.e. where are the malts and hops?) are noticeably absent.

My tongue immediately picks up a skunky flavor paired with some bitterness from the hops. Gradually the vanilla hits but is undermined by a metallic aftertaste. The tastes that have the potential to impress are impaired by what tastes like a skunk sprayed some tinfoil. These flavors have no place in a beer.

The beer is light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation in the mouth.

The beer is dangerously close to being undrinkable for my palate; however, I have the distinct impression that the brewer has taken a very sub-standard beer and tried to turn it into a premium brew by dumping it in oak barrels.

History lesson: In fact, that is precisely what has happened. Originally a Scottish company intended to make a scotch whiskey that had a beer finish. To achieve this the distiller filled the oak barrels with beer in order for the barrels to soak up the beer flavors in the wood. The beer was then discarded and the barrel was filled with scotch whiskey.

Some workers of the distillery braved up enough to sample the discarded beer and discovered it was both drinkable and very unique. Innis & Gunn was spun-off to exploit this discovery.

Now Innis & Gunn has the beer brewed by an “unnamed” brewery which is then put in white Bourbon barrels from the United States to age.

Conclusion: An interesting beer to try but I won’t be seeking it out again. I would sample other Innis & Gunn varieties but I would not entertain the thought of buying the Original again unless I found information stating that they have significantly improved their initial beer.

Rating:



Achouffe – La Chouffe

Date: Monday, January 10, 2011
Brewery: Achouffe
Beer: La Chouffe
Category: Belgian Specialty Ale
ABV: 8.00%
Brewed in: Belgium

Achouffe - La ChouffeThe beer pours a cloudy honey color. The head development was rapid and fluffy. Head of about 1.5 inches developed and retention was very good – it seemed to last forever and displayed nice lacing. I have no idea how much pouring this into my new tulip glass affected any of this. I do love unfiltered and unpasteurized beers so I was excited by the appearance.

The aroma was very subtle and I had difficulty actually picking out anything specific to comment on. This may also be a function of my somewhat congested nose but nothing demands your attention in the aroma. There is a faint sugary smell.

The first taste imparted by the beer to me was an understated hint of banana mixed with much more prominent citrus notes. For spices the only one I could easily detect was coriander which strongly influences the taste of this beer.

I would say this beer has medium carbonation – but not on the lighter side. It was very refreshing. As the you drink the beer the fruity citrus notes tend to give way to more of the spice. You taste surprisingly little alcohol in the beer despite that it is 8%.

Be aware – this goes down so smooth you can land yourself in trouble if you have more than one on hand.

In conclusion, I was impressed beyond my expectations with this beer and I would strongly recommend it to anyone – especially if you know you like wheat beer or any unfiltered or unpasteurized beers.

Sidenote: this beer (or brewery) even has it’s own music! Listen to the Chouffe’s music.

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Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Lager

Date: Monday, January 2, 2011
Brewery: Brooklyn
Beer: Brooklyn Lager
Category: Vienna Lager
ABV: 5.10%
Brewed in: USA

Appearance is pale brown with great clarity. Little carbonation visible. A thick 1 inch head developed with minor lacing. Head retention is good.

The aroma is of pungent American hops that are slightly toasted and nutty.

The taste is crisp and clean with a good mouthfeel. Quite carbonated in the mouth.

Initial flavors are of mild malt that give way to dominating bold hops. Bitterness is lingering and satisfying.

Excellent beer and strongly recommended.

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